Sandwiches are, by definition, a mixed texture (something between two slices of bread). They can be hard to eat because what’s inside is hard to chew, or hard to eat because there are really different textures that are hard to chew and control together (like tomato and bacon) or they can be hard to eat because all of the ingredients get really sticky together and hard to chew (peanut butter and jelly), or because they’re hard to bite through either because they’re big or the bread is hard. You get the idea: sandwiches can be hard.
Sandwiches can also be hard to eat for kids who don’t like their foods touching, kids who like to eat one food at a time and are overwhelmed by different foods peaking out of a sandwich. Now, some kids with very sensitive sensory systems love sandwiches because they don’t have to touch the insides of the sandwich and they don’t have to look at it. But to get to this point, they need to be comfortable with what’s inside the sandwich.
Because sandwiches are such a huge part of American food culture, it can be hard to think of how to replace them, but there are lots of ways to pack school lunches without a sandwich and there are lots of ways to work up to eating sandwiches, too. Check out Nami at Just One Cookbook and her post How To Make Bento for a great tutorial on how to put together nutritious, delicious, varied, interesting and beautiful bento lunches. And I hope you enjoy some of the ideas below to help your child become more comfortable with sandwiches.
Start with a sandwich put together, so your child can see it all put together. Then deconstruct the sandwich. Put the different foods in piles (this doesn’t work so well with PB&J, but you can take those apart to see what’s inside, too). You can continue to deconstruct and explore the parts of the sandwich. Tear the lettuce into strips. Shred up some turkey.
Then you can build the sandwich back up. start with the bread and pile everything else on top. You can also work up to this food play by pretending to make sandwiches with play food in a play kitchen.
Or start with cookie cutters and make shapes with different foods. Then stack up your shapes in different combinations. Does the bread always have to go on the outside? try a sandwich with cucumber ‘bread’ pieces or cheese ‘bread pieces’. When I was a kid I liked to make peanuts and raisins into sandwiches (my little joke on PB&J) with two peanut halves around a raisin. Have fun playing in the sandwich theme and making all sorts of foods into sandwiches!
Put your sandwich in a Panini press to melt cheese and smush down a sandwich with a few ingredients so it’s easier to bite through.
Add A Song:
Sing a song about putting a sandwich together or what you’re putting in your sandwich. Or sing this cute sandwich song from Jonny and the Raindrops that I found on youtube.
Add A Concept:
Making a sandwich is a great sequencing activity. Use ‘First, Then’ phrases and practice putting a sandwich together. First a piece of bread, then a slice of cheese, then a slice of cucumber and on and on.
What do you put in your sandwiches? How do you make them fun? Comment and share your creations!
Enjoy! Happy food play!