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 to set the table and pass out snack. Also, have sponges easily available for them to wash the tables after playtime.

3 Personalize snack time. Encourage children to obtain their own unbreakable labeled or photo cup from a designated shelf to bring to the snack area. Children can decorate their own place mats, which you can laminate.

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

5 Offer variety. Make delicious theme-related snacks (for instance, banana, pineap- pie juice, and cheese all relate to the color yellow). Introduce ethnic foods and invite parents to participate in the preparation with 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. Beautify the snack spot-pick flowers or raise plants for a centerpiece.

9 Make it fun! Some themed activities may be planned, such as serving bagels, orange slices, or pizza when discussing shapes that are round. Other activities may be spontaneous or indirect-for example, discovering one-to-one correspondence when each child receives one cup, one napkin, one plate, and one sandwich!

10 Sit, relax, and enjoy. Encourage the sharing of conversations and ideas as well as the food experiences. Unhurried discussions help children get to know one another. Always sit down with children so they can observe as you model appropriate social behavior. This also enables you to be a part of this nurturing network.