Ages 4 to 5
When the kids are hungry and waiting for the main course, lay out a variety of colorful cut-up raw veggies — and a challenge. Shout out a theme, like faces, vehicles, or homes, and have the kids use peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and more to create edible art. Once the designs are done, admire or snap a photo, then chow down before the next challenge. (Bonus: Research shows that serving vegetables as a first course increases kids’ consumption of produce.)
Encourage some performance art at the table. Have each family member select a different food item from their meal to serve as inspiration for a silly haiku. (Remember: It’s five, seven, then five syllables.) It’s a great way to slow everyone down as they focus attention on colors, aromas, and tastes. If you’re not into poetry, play a few rounds of Would You Rather — Food Edition. Take turns asking each person questions like “Would you rather eat frog legs or snails?” Or: “Would you rather eat hot dogs at every meal or never eat them again?” Laugh riots guaranteed!
Another way to make dinner an event? Dress up in your finest jewelry!