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Serving the food



Suitable for children: 
Child peeling a banana with an adult

What will you be having for lunch today and how will you serve it?

Ask your child to help you serve the food. This might include making decisions around how to cut up the fruit or the sandwich. Talk about what type of bowl or container to use. Can your child remember what tools you use to serve the spaghetti from the bowl or whether you put ice-cream into a bowl or a cone?

Materials you will need

  • Spoon
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Tongs
  • Ice-cream scoop
Skills this activity improves
Why does this matter?

This activity develops an understanding of number, shape, size and quantity.

What does this lead to?

When children help to serve food they are learning about fractions and division. They are learning that a whole object can be divided into different parts. They are also learning about space and perimeter.

'What shape dish do we need to serve the food in? Is the food solid or liquid so will it stay in the middle of the dish or ooze out to the edge?'

As children start to think about these mathematical concepts they are beginning to notice differences, make predictions about what may happen and identify possible choices and solutions.

Language to use
  • More, less, enough
  • Too little, too much
  • Square, circle, triangle
  • Big, little, large, small
  • Deep, shallow, long, narrow
Questions to use
  • How many?
  • How big?
  • How much?
  • How full?
  • Do you want more or less?
Useful tips
  1. If your child is under three they will just be beginning to listen and respond to questions and instructions so keep them simple.
  2. If your child is under three they will find it easier to grasp and hold smaller and lighter items.
  3. Young children developing hand skills and hand dominance might swap tongs or large serving spoons from one hand to the other.
  4. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.
Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Count objects together.
  • Set up a sand or pouring tray with differently sized containers for filling and emptying.
  • Add measuring jugs and containers to the bath at bath time. Talk about the numbers on the side of the jug and what they are used for.
  • Borrow puzzles and books from the local toy library.

Three to five year olds

  • Go on a shape hunt around the home and see if you can cut your sandwich into the shapes you found.
  • Go on a number hunt and see if you can find different numbers or collections of numbers around the home.
  • Make jelly and set in differently sized containers. Predict how many containers you will make from one jug of liquid. Make predictions as to which container of jelly will set first and which will take the longest.
  • Borrow puzzles and books from the local library.

Questions to use

    • How big?
    • How many?
    • Is it full yet?
    • Do you need more?
    • Which is the biggest one?

    Questions to use

      • Which has more? Which has less?
      • What do you think could happen?
      • Why did that happen?
      • Which one would be the heaviest?
      • What would we need to do to change the shape?