Food and/or drink preparation can be an excellent way to help facilitate speech and language goals with a variety of clients that span different ages and disabilities.
Below are 10 speech and language goals that you can target during food or drink preparation:
- Sequencing: Because recipes follow steps, sequencing can be an ideal goal. If there are too many steps in a recipe then break them up into smaller steps. Take pictures of each step and create a sequencing activity using an app such as Making Sequences or CanPlan.
- Literacy: If a recipe has complex language that your client has difficulty reading and processing, modify it. I often rewrite recipes with my clients or use a symbol based writing program like the SymbolSupport app.
- Expanding vocabulary: Recipes often contain unfamiliar words. When beginning a recipe, target new vocabulary. If your client is an emergent reader, create visuals for the vocabulary words and use aided language stimulation as you prepare the food and/or drink with her.
- Articulation: Target specific sounds during food preparation. Are you targeting /r/ during sessions? Prepare foods that begin with r like raspberries, radishes and rice, or even a color like red!
- Describing and Commenting: Food/drink preparation can be an excellent time to describe and comment. Model language and use descriptive words such as gooey, sticky, wet, sweet, etc. Encourage your client to use all five senses during the activity (e.g. It smells like ____, It feels like ______).
- Actions: Actions can be an excellent goal during food and/or drink preparation. For example, when baking a simple muffin recipe, the actions such as measure, pour, fill, mix, bake, eat, can be targeted.
- Answering “wh” questions: As you are preparing food, ask your client open ended “wh” questions, such as “What are we baking?” or “Why are we adding this sugar to our recipe?” and more.
- Problem Solving: Forget the eggs? Hmm, what should we do? How about forgetting the chocolate in chocolate milk? Ask your client different ways of resolving specific problems with food preparation, such as: “What do you do if you are missing an ingredient?” or “What do you do if we add too much of one ingredient?”
- Turn Taking: Whether you are working with one or two people, turn taking occurs naturally during baking and/or food preparation. If you are working in a group, make assignments before beginning.
- Recalling Information: As you prepare the food/drink, ask your client to recall specific After you are done with the recipe, model language and then ask your client to recall the steps of the recipe.
Preparing even a simple beverage such as chocolate milk can be an excellent activity to engage in during a session. Although it’s made up of only two ingredients, you can still work on a variety of speech and language goals including sequencing, describing, problem solving (e.g. what to do if you put in too much chocolate), actions, turn taking and recalling information.
Here are some helpful apps to use during or after food/drink preparation:
For more suggestions, check out my post here on getting a child with special needs involved in the kitchen.
Rebecca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her website www.gravitybread.com to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience. She has worked for many years with both children and adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings including schools, day habilitation programs, home care and clinics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow her on Facebook; on Twitter; or on Pinterest.