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Playing With Food Words:  Teaching Mindfulness to Preschoolers
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Playing With Food Words: Teaching Mindfulness to Preschoolers

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Author: Maya Talisman Frost

Article source: Used with author's permission.

The most powerful way to instill a love for language and an awareness of health in young children is to help them use specific words as cues for mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply paying attention, noticing new things, drawing distinctions, and shifting perspectives. It is the very essence of fun, and all children have a natural tendency to be mindful. That's how we learn from the time we are infants!

As children reach the age of three or so, they become fascinated by words and the sounds they can make. As a parent, you can significantly boost your child's linguistic intelligence by pointing out certain words whenever they pop up in conversation or even on TV or radio.

For example, you might choose the word "crunchy" as your secret word. Turn it into a game, much like "Slug Bug!"—that road trip challenge to be the first to notice any Volkswagen bugs. You want to help your child notice your secret word, and celebrate the fact that they noticed it.

Whenever they hear the word "crunchy" they simply say, "That's crunchy!" From there, let them notice what kind of crunchy it is. Like celery? Like chips? Like an apple? Is it juicy crunchy or salty crunchy of sweet crunchy? This helps your child build important connections and draws their attention to the subtle differences that can be found in crunchy foods. It's an engaging and entertaining way to have an ongoing discussion about nutrition!

You can adjust the words depending on the age, language skills and interest of your child. Other suggestions for secret words include: "fruity," "juicy," "chewy," "tender," "mouth-watering," or "bite-sized." Don't be afraid to introduce a word that might be above their level, especially if it's fun to say. Why not try "succulent" or "luscious"?

Playing the secret word game is a fun way to focus on food, and you'll find yourself becoming more aware of delicious words, too!


Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse and mother of four in Portland, Oregon. She has taught thousands of preschoolers how to play with words. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she offers creative and powerful eyes-wide-open alternatives to meditation for all ages. To subscribe to her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage, please visit

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