Classes in Harrogate
Low Fell Messy Play

Playing with food!


There’s lots of talk about the morals of ‘playing with’ and ‘wasting’ food in tuff trays. Some schools and nurseries have banned using food which I think is such a shame. I use a lot of food in my trays so here’s my justifications.

First of all I don’t look at it as ‘playing’. It may look like it’s just some fun but it’s actually learning. It’s important to give our children as many different textures, smells and tastes to experience. Some might argue that you can do that without it being food, and I do agree to a certain extent, but when you deal with young babies whose instinct is to repeatedly put everything in their mouths it important that it’s edible.

I also don’t see it as ‘waste’. The food in my trays may not have been used in the conventional way but it certainly hasn’t been wasted. As said above, this food is helping your child develop. At Little Learners your child will be encouraged to use hands, fingers, feet and toes to make marks in our trays which will help to strengthen their core muscles and develop their gross and fine motor skills.

A lot of the food substances in my trays do end up being consumed but what’s left isn’t wasted either. Any left over cereal I give it to the children in class so they can spend some time feeding the ducks or birds which is more learning and outside time. I reuse any flour/moondough and make that into play dough for future sessions and if any edible stuff does go in the bin then at least I know it’s compostable and will safely rot away quickly, unlike some non food substances.

Research shows that exploring food is good for fussy eaters and Little Learners is recommend by health practitioners as it desensitizes children to textures and smells. It helps children with food anxiety and more likely to try new things therefore they are more likely to have a more varied diet.

I also agree somewhat with the argument that some families can’t afford to eat properly so it’s not right to use with food. I have great sympathy with these families and often buy an extra tin of beans or packet of pasta and pop it into a food bank trolley. But where do you draw the line? Some countries don’t have fresh water so do we stop all water play too?

I make my own play dough out of foodstuffs, does this count as playing with food? Is that food wasted?

Another argument is allergies…..I understand that many children suffer from allergies but at Little Learners we will always ask for medical info when booking and can cater for your child’s needs in class.

Anyway these are just my thoughts, I understand we all have different opinions and points of view so if you choose not to use food in your trays then I respect that.


Little Learners Wearside & Hartlepool.

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