ABCs 4 SLPs: C is for Cooking

There's nothing like a good snack in speech-language therapy. If I had it my way, and had the money, I would have a snack available everyday during speech sessions! There are not many foods that I would not try, especially cookies and candies! I'm sure my students feel the same! In this post, I will discuss enhancing a persons' communication skills through cooking, how to use a simple recipe in speech-language therapy, some fun food apps to use in speech-language therapy sessions, and some other great speech and language websites that serve up some fine speech techniques along with their food!

ABCs 4 SLPs Cooking

Cooking with your clients reinforces many different skills. Cooking is an activity of daily living which is something that we often work on with our clients who have TBI, autism spectrum disorders, aphasia, and other disabilities. We need to cook to eat healthy foods and survive. Cooking also promotes following directions in sequence on a recipe. To follow a recipe, vocabulary of various ingredients, utensils, and cooking terms is needed. Knowing where to go to purchase ingredients, how much money to spend, and safety precautions when cooking are also important. This is just an overview of some of the skills used in cooking that we teach in speech-language therapy.

Here is an overview of how I used a simple recipe in speech-language group therapy with some of my fourth grade students. We made mini English muffin pizzas together in the Teacher's Lounge one day. This is also something that you can make at home and use as an activity to work on your child's speech sounds and language.

Mini English Muffin Pizzas From Real Mom Kitchen

(Image from: Real Mom Kitchen)

Ingredients:
A half of an English muffin
Pizza sauce (we used Prego)
Mozzarella cheese
Any topping you want (make sure it's already cooked if it's a meat that needs to be cooked) (we used little pepperonis)

Basically you just make it like a pizza: spread some pizza sauce on the half of English muffin, then put cheese, and then put toppings! Put it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds depending on the power of your microwave and it's done!

Here are some different ways you can use this activity to talk about your students' language. I hope that if you try this activity at home that you have as much fun as we did!:

Sequencing:

For sequencing events, you could say: First, we need to get our ingredients out. Next, we need to spread the pizza sauce on. After that, we need to put the cheese on. Then, we put the rest of our toppings on. Finally, we put our pizza on a plate in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Last, we eat our pizza!

2-step directions:

Put the pizza sauce, then the cheese on the pizza. Put the toppings on, then put the pizza in the microwave.

Vocabulary:

pizza, mozzarella, cheese, sauce, toppings, pepperoni, mushroom, sausage, ham, peppers, onions, pineapple, green olives, and black olives.

Choices:

Would you like mushrooms or pepperoni on your pizza? Would you like milk or pop to go with your pizza?

Social skills:

Get involved in a back and forth conversation about pizza. Suggested questions/topics you can use are: What do you like on your pizza? What do your friends like on their pizza? What do you think about your pizza? What do other people think about pizza? What was the best pizza you ever had? Have your student ask different people around them these questions.

Questions:

What do you like on your pizza? What is on your pizza? Where can you buy pizza? Where can you buy pizza toppings? Who brings the pizza from Pizza Hut? What do you drink with your pizza? What do people cook a pizza in? How many pieces do you want? What utensils do we need to make a pizza?

Categories:

What group are all of these toppings in?: "ham, sausage, pepperoni"; What group are all of these toppings in?: "mushrooms, peppers, green olives"; What group do these belong to?: "spoon, pizza slicer, pan"

Memory/Attention:

Before you make a pizza, have your student picture a pizza in their mind. What does it look like? What do they think of when they think of a pizza? What shape is a pizza? What colors are on their pizza? Have the student draw a picture of a pizza or write down words that they think of when they think of a pizza.

Sentences/Stories:

Have your student write a sentence about pizza. Model correct word order and not leaving any words out in their sentences. You could even start the sentence for them: "I like ______ on my pizza". If you have your student write a short story or paragraph about pizza, pick a topic like "the best pizza I ever had" or "if I could put anything on my pizza I would put...". Have them organize their story to have a beginning, middle, and end. Use words like first, next, last, before, after, but, otherwise, finally (etc) instead of using "and then" "and then" "and then".

Articulation:

  • /z/ sound - mozzarella, cheese, pizza; s making a /z/ sound on the end of words: olives, peppers, mushrooms, toppings
  • /s/ sound - sausage, some, sauce, ingredients, spread
  • /ch/ sound - cheese
  • /sh/ sound - mushroom, English
  • /r/ sound - pepperoni, mushroom, pepper, microwave, delivery, ingredients, green olives, green pepper, red pepper, mozzarella
  • /l/ sound - like, olive, English, spread, mozzarella

For students using their sounds in sentences, you could have them making sentences with their sounds or say phrases like "I like ___ on my pizza. I don't like ___ on my pizza".

You can adapt these ideas for almost any meal at the dinner table or snack in speech-language therapy! For instance, here is how I used cookies in therapy:

While making cookies you can:

  • Talk about the different ingredients (look at the recipe together).
  • Give your child directions or have them sequence the directions to make cookies (first we get out the ingredients, then we mix the ingredients in a bowl, after that we put the dough on the cookie sheet, next we put the cookie sheet in the oven, after __ minutes we take the cookies out and we wait for them to cool, finally we eat the cookies!). You can even print out pictures from the internet of all the different steps (a picture of ingredients, a picture of dough, a picture of an oven, etc) and have your student tell what order they go in.
  • Ask your child what their favorite cookie is and why.
  • For those working on speech sounds who can read, have them read the directions to a recipe using their good sounds!

While decorating cookies you can:

  • Talk about the different shapes, sizes, and colors of the cookies.
  • Ask your child what color they are going to decorate their cookie or what sprinkles/etc they are going to use.

While looking at different cookies (this is what we did in my room during speech because I did not have time to make cookies; I bought different types of cookies from the store):

  • Talk about the different ingredients, shapes, sizes, tastes, textures (soft, crunchy, hard, chewy, etc), colors, traditions, who likes which one the best, who made each one, flavors, etc.
  • Try to have your child pick out one cookie and describe it to you (using the different qualities above) without telling you which one they picked. Guess which cookie they are thinking of.

I even looked up when National Cookie Day was and we read an article on it to practice my students' speech sounds. Some words that students can work on are:

  • /s/ - cinnamon, soft
  • /k/ - cookie, bake
  • /ch/ - chocolate, chip, chewy
  • /r/ - batter, timer, Christmas, peanut butter, crunchy, hard

If you are unable to use real food in speech-language therapy due to allergies, that doesn't mean that you can't use plastic food! Have students use the plastic food in pretend play! You can still work on speech sounds, categories, vocabulary, social skills (such as passing out plates/food and maintaining conversation), and more.

Speech Snacks logo

(Speech Snacks icon)

Two speech-language pathologist blogger's websites that focus specifically on the use of food in speech-language therapy are Speech Snacks and Speech Foodie! Both websites include recipes with ingredients, how-to's, images of the food, and how to use speech and language skills before, during, and after cooking the meal! Also, both websites include fun facts about meals in history, which is great for cross-curricular learning and vocabulary!

Speech Foodie icon

(Speech Foodie icon)

Some great applications to use for language development, sequencing, vocabulary, spontaneous speech, and pretend play that are related to food include:

Toca Kitchen app icon

Toca Kitchen, Toca Kitchen Monsters, Toca Tea Party, Parenting's Birthday Party Playtime, Bamba Pizza, Bamba Pizza 4th of July, Bamba Ice-Cream, Ice Cream Truck, Toca House (kitchen room), My PlayHome (kitchen room), Kids at Home (kitchen room), Cookie Doodle, Cake Doodle, Donut Doodle, Candy Doodle, Jelly Doodle, Icebox Doodle, Sandwich Maker, Cupcake Maker, Feed Me!, Jiggle-It (Jello app), ABA Flash Cards Fruit & Nuts, ABA Flash Cards - Food, Kindergarten.com Things You Eat, Ice Cream Monsters, Bo's Dinnertime, Chocolate Fix, Cotton Candy!, The Great Cookie Thief, iMake Lollipops, Wonkidos Step by Step Ordering at a Restaurant, i See-quence... Going to a Restaurant Social Stories, More Grillin', Salad Now, and ICEE Maker.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and take a bite of some great eats (but don't talk with your mouth full)!

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