1 Get organized! During your daily setup for art and story time, also gather basic snack supplies (cups, napkins, pitchers) so they are ready when you need them.

2 Use helping hands. Children really enjoy helping you with snack-time arrangements. Let children help set the table and pass out snack. Also, have sponges easily available for them to wash the tables after play time.

3 Personalize snack time. Make snack time a special experience by encouraging children to obtain their own labeled or photo mug from a designated shelf to bring to the snack area. Children can decorate their own place mats, which you can laminate or cover with contact paper for easy cleaning.

4 Keep it clean. Encourage children to assist with scrubbing tables, washing food and food-related items (apples, bowls), and washing their own hands so that they learn in natural ways how to stay healthy.

5 Offer variety. Make delicious theme-related snacks (for instance, bananas and cheese both relate to the color yellow). Introduce ethnic foods and invite parents to participate in the preparation with the children.

6 Choose child-size snack supplies. Make sure chairs and tables are appropriately sized so children can seat themselves and eat without wobbling. Provide small pitchers so children can easily pour their own juice. Encourage self-serving from easy-to-handle plates and bowls.

7 Encourage independence. Invite children to make their own snacks-this can be as simple as having them spread peanut butter on bread. Have mops and sponges handy for spills and keep a trash bin nearby.

8 Play a little music. Play soothing, pleasant music as children arrive at the table. Use a particular song or always start snack with a finger play to help children settle in.

9 Beautify the snack spot. Pick flowers or raise plants for a centerpiece. Design delightful accessories, such as decorated cups and name cards.

10 Sit, relax, and enjoy. Encourage the sharing of conversations and ideas as well as the food experiences. Informal unhurried discussions help children get to know one another Always sit down with the children so they can observe as you model appropriate social behavior.