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Playing Preschool - Unit 5: Food

Updated: May 26, 2021

A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum

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A Tasty Treat

My toddler and I had so much fun playing with food! One of the highlights for me was getting to make stone soup. We made it together in the morning and it simmered in the crock pot while he napped. When he woke up the house smelled delicious and he ate carrots, celery and onions and asked for more! I definitely noticed that learning about food had the added benefit of my toddler being curious about and willing to try new foods!

Building Background Knowledge

Depending on their age, children will come with varying levels of understanding and vocabulary knowledge about food. What I found valuable was the conversations that were sparked about the classification of food and where it comes from. I also noticed that by intentionally involving him in kitchen, it carried over into his independent play. Win-win!

Video Links

Suggested Books

*Books with an asterisk are my Top 5 Picks to Add to Your Home Library for this unit

Additional Book List

Books in bold are also the suggested books in another unit.



Culturally Diverse Food and Characters

Additional Resources/Activities

Play Kitchen

  • My husband and I (naively) bought my son the Step2 Espresso Bar Play Kitchen for his first birthday as his "big" gift because we wanted something small. Little did we know, he was a long way away from any imaginative play. After the novelty of taking everything out of the bins and cabinets wore off, it sat untouched for a while before we moved it to closet. I pulled it back out for this unit and was so happy to see him engage with it in a whole new way! We played with it every day and frequently since. If you don't have a play kitchen, you may want to consider getting one to take the learning to a new level. If I had a playroom and the funds, I would buy this one: KidKraft Farm to Table Play Kitchen Set, Large, Multicolor


  • You'll want to get some accessories for your child to play with. A word of caution, when it comes to play food, don't get the cheapest plastic set as it can warp easily. I prefer wood for durability and handling but they can be pricey. I've added to our collection over time, but if you're looking for something cost effective, I've read good things about Learning Resources Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set

  • This Melissa and Doug Slice and Toss Salad Set was great for practicing cutting. It comes with a child-safe knife and cutting board that we used to cut bananas and avocados.


  • Developing life skills: take your child grocery shopping and find ways to let them help! Let them pick out/bag the produce or find an item on your list from the shelf. Talk about the food groups as you navigate the store. Allow them to put the groceries on the conveyor belt. You might be surprised how their behavior improves when you give them meaningful purpose.

  • Field trip: depending on the time of year, give your child a hands-on experience with where food comes from. Take them the orchard to pick apples or the pumpkin patch in the fall, a blueberry patch in the summer, a nursery in the spring or a dairy farm year-round. Helping them make connections to the real world is so powerful!

  • Cooking Activity: Make pizza bagels while reading Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party. Let your toddler choose the toppings (from a pre-selected menu of options). You might be surprised at what they choose!

  • Easy Craft Paper Plate Spaghetti and Meatballs (or pizza or cookie, whatever your child likes)

  • Bonus Letter Review: read If You Give a Pig a Pancake and make pancakes and pour the batter in the shape of different letters. They won't be perfect but it will be fun!


  • When it comes to making the bread in a bag, read the instructions carefully. I measured out all the ingredients and forgot to add a cup of flour at a time, working into the yeast before adding more so my bread didn't rise well.

What was your favorite part of this unit? What other books did you read? What other activities did you do? Please share your photos and feedback in the Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler Curriculum Facebook Group in Photos/Albums/Year 1 Themes Food

Until next time, may your coffee be warm and your toddler be busy!

Up Next: Playing Preschool: Unit 6 - Five Senses

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