Encouraging Reading Through Food Art

Reading with your toddler is a special time to grow closer and nurture their love of words…and food too. So why not add reading during mealtime? Using words in food art can be a fun way to bring something novel to the dinner table! Here are some great ideas for encouraging reading through food art.

Reading Food: Help your toddler learn that written words in food art have meaning and can be yummy too! Here are a few tips to guide you.

  • Use cookie cutters to add a word to your child’s meal. I like to use cheese slices, fruit, veggies or bread to make the “cookie cutting” easy and fast.
  • Start off with are two-to-three letter words such as mom, dad, me, dog, up, you and go. Making food art with these easy sight words will make the words come alive for your kids and make mealtime more memorable!
  • During the meal, point to the written word. Sound out the word while running your finger slowly under the word. Then, have your child try sounding out the word while you run your finger slowly under the word. Finally, read the word while quickly running your finger under the word.
  • Prior to munching on the delicious letters, ask your child to point to and say the word.
  • Eat the word. Yum!

Reading Themes with Food: Have your child create the food art with you. They can choose a reading theme, like we pictured here with highlighting the letter ‘M’ with melons, muffins and mac – oh my! Such a fun and perfect ‘letter’ theme. Don’t forget the “mmm” sound too!

  • For more mealtime inspiration and food theme ideas, check out our book, Making Mealtime ezpz: Fun Ways to Fill the Happy Mat. It also has tools and tips on how to make food art ezpz!
  • If a holiday is coming up, try using holiday themed words. If it’s Halloween, words like boo, eek, cat and bat are fun. Christmas words like ho-ho-ho, elf and joy can make mealtime part of the holiday cheer. Your toddler will be tickled to see and eat these festive words on their plate!
  • What is your kiddo digging this week? Cars, a particular movie / show, animals, space or bugs? Using these themes and words can build their attention span for reading AND eating!
  • When your child helps you make a meal to eat and read, try to avoid making additions or changes to it. It's critical for an early reader and eater to feel a sense of accomplishment and ownership over their creation.

I hope these reading ideas will help encourage you and your kids to enjoy the process of making food art - then reading and eating it! #ezpzfun #ezpzbook

Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP


Dawn Winkelmann, a.k.a “Ms. Dawn”, has treated thousands of kids across the globe by helping families overcome picky eating stages and food refusals, while adding new foods into their diet. Her high success rate is attributed to Ms. Dawn bringing her education, experience, sense of humor and her favorite feeding products to the family dinner table.

You will find Ms. Dawn’s expert feeding advice to be positive and fun for the entire family! She adapts complicated feeding/swallowing research and makes it practical and easy for parents! Get ready to learn the science behind your favorite feeding products and ways to bring happy family mealtimes back!