Building Blocks Daycare

March 31st, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Arli Boustead, NAP SACC Coordinator

BuildingBlocks_ArliI recently had the opportunity to visit Building Blocks Daycare, which was one of the first Omaha area child care centers to go through the Live Well Omaha Kids NAP SACC program.  They completed the program in 2012 with a goal of implementing family-style dining in their center.  It took some work, but they did it!

Rietta Glesmann, owner of Building Blocks Daycare tells me she started her quest by giving her staff the opportunity to express their concerns and then empowering them to face the challenges by planning solutions.  Rietta understands the benefit of family-style dining and how it’s a best-practice for developing a child’s desire to make healthy choices.

Rietta and her staff got the kids excited by setting up a sensory table with the serving items they would be using for meals, in the coming weeks.  They used little craft pom-poms and small objects, with food scoopers and bowls, for kids to explore the act of “scooping”.  She then put pitchers in the sensory table for a while, for kids to practice “pouring”.  After a few weeks of the sensory table, they started small with snacks and letting the kids serve themselves.  As teachers and kids became more confident in the process, they started letting kids serve themselves at lunch.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw 24 month old toddlers and pre-schoolers scooping carrots & celery out of a bowl with utensils, serving themselves, then passing the bowl to the next toddler.  As the bowl made its way around the table, children were seated quietly (yes, quietly) and waiting patiently while their peers filled their plates.  As soon as all plates were full, they all say a quick prayer and then begin eating.  They have engaging conversations while eating, with their teacher and classmates.  Teachers quickly learned to identify the kids who were willing to try new foods and now they start the new foods with them.  They set a great example for other children and take the pressure off of everyone.  Rietta said the move to family-style dining has also greatly decreased the amount of wasted food after each meal.  Food in serving bowls is generally re-servable.

Rietta said the kids do spill, and there are messes, but the teachers, parents and visitors have been amazed at what the kids can do!  She also was able to keep costs of the transition under $150, by finding the best place for utensils and serving equipment.

Rietta’s team notified parents of the move to family-style dining when the sensory tables went out.  They encouraged parents to ask questions, and shared why this was an important change for the children’s development.

Rietta and her team were gracious to let us come in with another NAP SACC center to witness their process.  We thank Rietta and her team, for their hard work and sharing their story with us!

If you would like more information about moving to family-style dining, please contact your NAP SACC Coordinator, Arli Boustead at 402.215.3721 or email

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Building Blocks Daycare”

  1. 1 Ashish said at 9:27 pm on December 3rd, 2015:

    Tearjerker for sure! Remember those precious moemtns in your heart. Especially when they become teenagers! But really,, you have instilled a wonderful memory in them. One that i’m sure they will pass on to their children!

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