Instead of reprimanding kids for playing with their food, why not see what kind of creations they can come up with using food items.
This past Monday in my Asian Studies class, Cuisine and Culture in Asia, we talked about the arduous Japanese tradition of mothers making obento boxes for their children. Pictured above, these obentos are boxed lunches with small portions of rice, meat, and vegetables, packaged very carefully into a designated container. WIthout going into too much detail about the cultural implications behind this, one of the most fascinating aspects of this tradition is the requirement for the mother to create art from the food for their children to appreciate. In fact, these obentos are infamous for unbelievable intricacy and ornateness.
While I do not intend, in any way, for kids to reach this level of intensity, I think it would be interesting to see what kinds of pictures, shapes, or designs kids can create with their food. When I was growing and it was my mom or dad's birthday, my sister and I would typically make them home-cooked meal. We would always try to arrange the food in fun shapes. In the pictures above, we made heart-shaped eggs!
I think that this would be a really fun and relatable way for kids to cultivate their creativity. I know I did!