Living With Food Allergies

Potential Food Allergens in Preschool, School, Camp Crafts & Activities

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “Food used in lesson plans for math or science, crafts, and cooking classes may need to be substituted depending on the allergies of the students.”

The chart below contains a list of some unexpected places you can encounter common food allergens, along with alternatives and precautions that can be used. You can download a version to print and share at the bottom of this page. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. It is a general guide only and is not inclusive of every potential food allergen. Please verify all ingredients yourself by contacting the manufacturers as ingredients may change.

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Counting/sorting beans, grains, pasta, M&Ms® or other small foods
Potentially all*
  • Read labels to choose food items with safe ingredients
  • Remember that different-sized packages can have different ingredients or cross-contact issues

Sensory tables that use grains, pasta, candies or other small foods
Potentially all*
  • Read labels to choose food items with safe ingredients
  • Use non-food items

Baking projects
Potentially all*
  • Share safe recipes
  • Request to participate in any baking activities

Projects using empty egg cartons, milk cartons, beverage cartons, yogurt containers, food jars, etc.
Potentially all*
  • Provide safe empty containers for the class
  • Purchase new egg cartons at

Birthday and holiday celebrations
Potentially all*
  • Provide a non-food celebration (i.e., songs, goodie bags, stickers)
  • Provide safe cake or cupcakes for the class

Play kitchen
Potentially all*
  • Provide safe “real” containers to replace allergenic ones, since empty “real” egg cartons, milk cartons, cereal boxes, baby food jars, etc. may contain allergens

Musical instruments – Allergens may be present on mouth-blown musical instruments
Potentially all*
  • Remove mouth-blown musical instruments from classrooms
  • Provide a designated set of mouth-blown instruments for your child’s use only

Handwashing (teachers and children)
Potentially all*
  • Read soap, liquid soap, wipe and lotion labels to determine if allergens are present
  • Use paper towels to dry hands, since cloth towels may contain food residue

Finger paint
  • Read labels to find milk-free finger paints
  • Read labels to find a safe laundry soap
  • Laundry starch or soap can be omitted if avoiding corn

Bird feeders
Peanut butter
  • Consider making a hummingbird or butterfly feeder instead using sugar, water and food coloring
  • Use soy butter, sunflower butter or honey
  • Use regular Crisco® (contains soy oil and palm oil) or other safe hard shortening
  • Use safe seeds or seed mix without wheat seeds or nut oil

Planting seeds
Legumes (such as beans, peas
or peanuts)
  • Read labels to find potting soil free of nut shells and soy
  • Use any other seeds
  • Provide safe empty containers to grow seeds
  • Purchase new egg cartons at

Potting soil


  • Read labels to find safe potting soil

  • Elmer’s® Glue solution
  • Buckwheat flour solution

Play-Doh® (commercial or wheat-based homemade)
  • Moon Sand® or Moon Dough®
  • Homemade rice- or buckwheat-based play dough
  • Other sensory materials such as goop, slime or ooblick
  • Homemade playdough or ooblick (see recipe section below)
  • There are commercial gluten-free play doughs available at

Craft paste
  • Read labels to choose food items with safe ingredients
  • Elmer’s® Glue stick

Macaroni art
Legumes (such as beans, peas
or peanuts)
  •  Rice macaroni
  •  Quinoa macaroni
  •  Corn macaroni

Tempera paint (homemade and some high-end commercial products)
  • Crayola® Kids Paint
  • Read labels to find egg-free paint, since some high-end versions contain egg
  • Most commercial paints are suitable for children

  • Read labels to find soy-free crayon

Crayola® Wonder
  • Read labels to find a non-soy-based in

Shaving cream
  • Read labels to find dairy-free shaving cream

Making butter
  • None

Dustless chalk
Casein (milk)
  • Use dry erasers or smartboard

Ooblick, oobleck, goop, slime
  • Read labels to choose items with safe ingredients
  • Create mixture using tapioca starch instead of cornstarch

Making maracas or shakers
(such as beans, peas
or peanuts)
  • Fill maracas or shakers with rice, popcorn or sand


* “Potentially all” means that all allergens are possible. For example, an empty egg carton may not just pose an egg risk. If the empty carton was used to store nuts, it could pose a nut risk. It would be safest to take extra precautions to avoid food allergens, such as buying new, unused egg cartons.


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Here are some alternative recipes for Play-Doh® and ooblick. Choose the recipe below that’s best for your child based on their allergies.

Rice Play Dough


1 1/4 cups rice flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 tbsp oil

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Food coloring/sparkles (optional)


  • Mix flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large pot. Add water and oil.
  • Cook over medium heat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly.
  • Add vanilla extract (for smell, not taste). Mix thoroughly. Put play dough on a clean surface. When cool enough to handle, knead lightly and store in airtight container.
  • Add food coloring to the water to make colored play dough. Add sparkles during the hand mixing time for sparkly play dough.

Cornstarch Play Dough


1 cup cornstarch

1 lb baking soda

1 cup water

1/8 tsp oil

Food coloring (optional)


  • In a large pot, combine ingredients. Cook over medium heat until “mealy.” Allow to cool on a plate, covered by a damp cloth. Knead well and store in an airtight container.

Sweet Play Dough


3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup margarine, melted

Splash vanilla

Sprinkle salt

5 drops food coloring


  • Mix all ingredients, except coloring, until mixture is blended and all one color. Then mix in coloring.
  • You can shape this and eat it, assuming your child is not allergic to any of the ingredients. Do not make this in advance. Make this when you are going to play with it. It will get hard and become inedible.



1 1/2 cups cornstarch

1 cup water

Food coloring (optional)


  • Mix the ingredients together. When children play with the mixture, it will be solid when they squeeze it and liquid when they release it.


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Potential Food Allergens in Preschool, School, Camp Activities (click to download PDF)

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Potential Food Allergens in Preschool, School, Camp Activities page 2

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Recipes & Diet

Safe Eats ® Recipes (Allergy-Friendly, Search Free of Your Allergens)

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Rate Grilled Portobello Mushrooms


 Recipe Information  
Category: Appetizers
# of Servings: 4
Recipe Created By: Anna McCartney


1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
herbs (optional)

Put everything into a plastic ziploc bag and let it soak for a few hours.

Remove mushrooms from marinade. Place inside a foil pocket (just fold foil around and cover twice). Grill or broil.

These are good over a salad.

 This recipe is free of:
 Milk  Peanut  Egg  Soy  Tree nut
 Gluten  Wheat  Fish  Shellfish  Sesame

 Keep in Mind  
  1. Always read labels! Product ingredients can change without notice. Do not assume a recipe or product is safe for you. Contact manufacturers to confirm safety for your allergy needs.
  2. A check in a box on a recipe means you can make a recipe "free of" that allergen. You may need to use a substitution or alternative product to make that recipe safe for the allergies you are managing.
  3. If you need assistance with a recipe or ingredient substitution, post on our Food & Cooking support forums. You will receive personal help to alter a recipe to make it allergy-free for your child’s needs.
  4. You are welcome to link to our recipes. If you would like to publish our recipes elsewhere in print or online, please contact us for permission.

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