I don’t know how vanilla got such a bad rep for being plain and boring. My kitchen and hands smelled amazing for the whole day after making this vampire bat!
Vanilla beans are expensive, so they may not be the best food for a big food play building project, but they are really fun to explore! With one bean at about $3, a deconstruct project where you explore 1 bean, may get you the most bang for your buck.
If you slit the bean, your child could help you peel it apart. And when you peel it, you find there are tons of tiny, kind of gooey, goopy seeds in the middle of the shriveled pod. Your child can help you scoop and scrape them out with a small utensil. See if you get 1/4 tsp, or 1/2 tsp? It’s truly amazing to me how much scent and flavor comes from such a small pod!
These are the seeds that make those lovely black flecks in vanilla bean ice cream or other vanilla deserts. Those black flecks scare a lot of kids off, but I bet if a lot of them could see the pod they come from, feel those flecks, see them on their fingers and smell that lovely vanilla aroma, they might not be so hesitant anymore!
Once you’ve explored the vanilla bean you can use it to do a scent activity like this scent bottle sensory activity. Or if you’ve decided a vanilla bean is just too expensive, you could definitely do this activity with vanilla extract!
If you do decide to explore a vanilla bean, here are some amazing-looking recipes so you can turn this into a cooking activity and don’t have to waste your delicious, aromatic, expensive ingredient! I’m going to use the remnants of this bat to try the Vanilla Quinoa Coconut Pudding as soon as I get out to get some more coconut milk!
Enjoy and happy food play!