My daughter puts everything into her mouth, so when it came time to brainstorm toddler activities for sensory play, I knew I needed some that were edible and/or taste-safe. I'm thrilled to share our top 5 edible sensory activities we've been doing using her favorite food of the moment: grapes from Chile, our sponsor for this post. Right now, most grapes you’ll see in the grocery store are from Chile. This is due to the counter-seasonality of Chile; their seasons are opposite ours, and because of that, we are able to have delicious, crunchy, healthy grapes when they’re out of season here in North America.
These activities were an absolute success with my 15 month old! Most are actually low mess, though a couple can get pretty messy. For those, I'd recommend putting a plastic tarp down (can use a shower curtain liner) or going outside. Either way, after this I’m sure you’ll be picking up some grapes during your next grocery trip!
Whenever handling food items (particularly those that are not shelf stable), you should follow the 4 hour rule. Meaning don't eat it after it's been at room temperature for four hours. That time includes travel from the grocery store, sitting on the counter, etc.
Safe way to slice grapes for toddlers:
As always, follow your pediatrician's recommendation for serving food or edible items to your toddler. Be aware of choking hazards and always slice your grapes down the vertical middle (so from where the stem is down to where the little dot on the butt it). If you are unsure about serving a specific food to your child, please contact your pediatrician.
5 Ways To Use Grapes For Sensory Play With Toddlers: Taste Safe, Edible, Food Activities I Do With My 15 Month Old
Activity #1: Sensory tub peeled grapes
My daughter LOVES grapes. She literally taps on the fridge asking me to open it so she can have her daily dose. They keep her entertained and engaged for so long. So I decided to take her favorite thing of the moment (grapes) and one of my favorite games from Halloween, where you'd put your hand in a box and had to guess what was inside. Does anyone remember that? Well there was always the bowl of peeled grapes that felt like eyeballs and I was obsessed.
So I combined her favorite snack and my favorite pastime into a little sensory tub.
Step 1: Prepare grapes for peeling
Rinse your grapes in water and vinegar then remove from stems. Next you need to chill your grapes to make peeling them easy. You can either freeze your grapes the night before (recommended) or if you're in a time crunch, can soak them in very icey water. And if you're in a real time crunch, you can truly skip this altogether and just jump to step 3!
Step 2: Peel grapes
Grab your chilled grapes and start peeling from the butt (opposite the stem end). I just find this end to go much easier, it sort of pop's the grape out of the skin this way.
Step 3: Slice your grapes
Always, always, always practice food safety! For young children that means slicing grapes vertically down the long end. For toddlers, you may want to slice it into quarters that same long way for added safety as I show in the video.
Step 4: Assemble sensory tub
Get a container of your choice (can be a big tub that you put your toddler in, can be a smaller tupperware you give your toddler, totally up to you!) and then some painter's or masking tape. You're going to just tape off the top of the container in different directions to make it a little challenging for your child to get to the grapes. My daughter also loves spoons, so I made one of the areas a little larger to fit the spoon ladle with some maneuvering on her end.
Step 5: Play!
My daughter had a blast snacking on the grapes, trying to fish them out with the ladle, and transferring them between containers. This kept her entertained on her own for about 40 minutes or so!
Activity #2: Edible Paint
For this, all you'll need is some yogurt and food coloring (brushes and paper optional)
Simply mix your yogurt and food coloring into a container (I used a muffin tin) and let your toddler have some fun.
If you want to kick it up a notch (or as your child gets older), you can slice a grape in half vertically and use it as a stamp. This is great practice in finger dexterity. You can have them use their fruit stamp to make a picture of what the fruit looks like. As with most new activities, you'll need to model this for your child a few times probably.
Activity #3: Jello Dig
For this, you'll need a gelatin mix, container, and some items to go into the “dig.” I used sliced grapes, a spoon, half an easter egg, and some teethers.
Simply prepare the gelatin mixture according to the instructions and pour into a container. I let it sit in the fridge for an hour before adding my items and then let it sit for another few hours to firm up.
For the container go with something that has a wide surface area and is a bit more on the shallow end. You want your toddler to be able to see the items in the container so they'll go digging for them!
Activity #4: Rainbow Spaghetti
This is one of my daughter's favorites! You don't need a lot of pasta either like in my full tutorial. You can set aside a handful of spaghetti when making dinner one night and simply dye that with some water and food coloring. My daughter prefers to walk around with just a handful of spaghetti in a container over the giant baking dish of rainbow spaghetti anyway.
You can add different items to the spaghetti to make it more entertaining too. Again, I added sliced grapes one day which she loved. She added some dog food into the mix as well. She liked hiding it in the pile and then finding the pellets again.
Activity #5: Edible art grape and toothpick sculptures
Growing up, one of my favorite activities was building shapes out of unexpected objects. I remember in 5th grade we had to use newspaper and tape to build a geodesic dome and fit our entire team inside of our structure… it was SO much fun.
Anyway, I thought a similar concept could work using grapes and toothpicks to make edible art!
I was a little nervous because when I first introduced this activity to my daughter, she was only 14 months. I wasn't sure if it would be too advanced and not hold her attention, but as you see in the video it totally did so I suggest giving it a try! You'll want to do this activity with your child since you're using whole grapes. It is a fantastic example of how kids learn through playing, so narrate what you're observing from shapes to concepts as you go. As you can see in the video, I narrate that I'm making a square and a box. Once I built a cube, I showed “in and out” by putting another grape inside of the cube and when she broke the square I just narrated that. So many concepts are being taught with this simple exercise!
As you can probably tell from this, the key to keeping a toddler entertained (at least my daughter) is using her favorite food item (grapes), and finding ways to reinvent containers and spoons. The rainbow spaghetti on it's own kept her entertained for a little, but putting it in a small container with some spoons kept her entertained all day. Same with the sensory tub of peeled grapes. She played with that for SO long on her own. Actually all of these really kept her entertained and engaged for so long. In my experience, toddler's will always play/stay engaged longer if you are playing with/near them.
Once you find something your toddler likes, just get creative with ways to add or revamp it (I may try dying grapes when she gets bored with the sensory tub).
What edible sensory play activities does your toddler love?!