patterns/counters/etc that are not food!
Our teacher just brought in plastic donuts for making patterns with they are so adorable and do not pose a threat to anyone I think she got them from Target. They are a great alternative to decorating cupcakes with the kids or making a snack, and they are just so cute! We are using counters that are shaped like different farm animals which is much nicer that using beans or nuts becuase they are in different colors and they last forever, I believe they are soaked in dishsoap and water at night then rinsed in the am. Just wanted to let you all know what is working for us in case you wanted to suggest it to your teachers if they insist on using foods.
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