Last Updated: 8 July 2016

Food explorers is the name of the workshops I have designed for 5-9 year olds.  I love that these older children (particularly those with food aversions) get to EXPLORE food with their senses – yet not in the “baby-ish” way I play with the toddlers and preschoolers in Breaking Down Barriers to Eating Through Play. (Contact me for group inquiries or see the current individual services here that you can book)

During a Food Explorers workshop we made smoothies and I thought that I’d elaborate on some of the sensory steps we covered at this point of the program.  This is to give you a taste (pardon the pun) of what this session can do for your and your child.  Please take this activity and try it for yourself too.

  1.  We all talked about and “engaged” with the raw ingredients.
  2. We had the auditory sensory challenge of listening to the blender do its work.
  3. We watched the ingredients transform and colours change into one liquid.
  4. We listened to the pouring of the liquid into the cup – it even sounded quite viscous.
  5. We each had a look at the smoothie within our own cup.
  6. We took a smell of the liquid in our own cup and talked about what smells were coming through the strongest (remembering the smells of the raw ingredients)
  7. I demonstrated making a smoothie moustache on my lips 3 times in a row.  I talked about how the smell was stronger as the smoothie touched my lips.  I also demonstrated various ways to remove the smoothie – I wiping it off into the provided wipe, licking it straight off and holding it there for a few seconds longer before I licked it off.  We watched as I tried to make the biggest moustache that I could with the smoothie.
  8. The children were invited to try making the moustache too or discard the smoothie at the sink.  (These options are based on where the child is sitting on the steps to eating hierarchy with this particular new food item – I look carefully for non-verbal and verbal cues from the children in the lead-up actions before making these suggestions.)

So, would you see this as a great step forward?  Well, yes!  Every time we are presented with a new food, it means that the sensory system is about to be bombarded with a whole lot of new information.  By taking it slowly and exploring the whole range of sensory inputs, we can start to help our kids on a much better level.  They have the chance to focus, prepare, categorise and evaluate all of these inputs.

sensory smoothie

I’d love your food explorer to make this “Super Sensory Smoothie” – not only does it change colour but it also changes texture!

Super Sensory Smoothie
Prep time
Total time
Fun sensory exercise for kids - talk about colours and textures of the raw materials, the noise and colour changes in process, the smells and then what happens over time.
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 500ml
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 handful of washed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 punnet (or 200g) of strawberries, trimmed
  • 300ml milk (of your choice)
  • 50g ice (or just some additional milk if the noise of the ice in the blender is going to be too much sensory overload)
  • (If you really want to add some extra sweetness try some honey or maple syrup to your liking)
  1. Discuss the look, feel and smell of each raw ingredient as you put it into the blender
  2. Blitz in the blender for 2-3 minutes
  3. Pour into 2 glasses taking note of how "runny" the mixture is
  4. Try making moustaches, smelling or drinking one smoothie now
  5. Check the other smoothie after 15 minutes, discuss what has happened to the colour. Using a straw you can see what has happened to the texture. The chia seeds would have started to go "gluggy" and make the smoothie thicker.

What did you think of this smoothie?  Do you have another favourite smoothie recipe?

Other recipes that Food Explorers LOVE include:

Chia & Chicken Balls | Why they are great for fussy kids | Play with Food

Baked Donuts | Play with Food |

Chocolate Peanut Crackles | Play with Food

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