Are you aware that there are many benefits of cooking in speech therapy? Have you tried it with students before? You might find that students stay engaged, try new foods or textures and have A LOT of fun! Besides this, you might also realize that so many speech and language skills (amongst other things) can be worked on. Here are 7 benefits of cooking in speech therapy:
Besides being FUN, cooking can be really motivating for kids. Any students who love hands-on activities will enjoy cooking in speech therapy.
Don’t stress about when to fit cooking in. Keep it simple:
-assign a specific day of the week for cooking
-do it once per month
-theme it for certain holidays
-have students work for it using a behavior system incentive
Try asking students yes/ no questions to follow-up the activity. For example, ask “Is it spicy? Or “Do you like it?” to help plan instruction for next time.
#2 Life Skill
Besides being motivating, cooking is actually an ESSENTIAL LIFE SKILL that children need to learn. The best part about cooking? You can do it with any age and adapt the recipe as needed. With preschoolers and younger students-try very simple recipes (think a trail mix). Then, with upper elementary, middle and high school you can try more advanced recipes. If you haven’t yet, try some recipes from a favorite seller of mine, Live, Love Speech!
Being able to do a simple task like putting toast in the toaster is a HUGE win for students. By teaching important life skills to students at a young age, you are helping to set them up for success.
#3 Sequencing Words
Next, cooking with students gives them the opportunity to practice sequencing words. For example, the recipe might say: FIRST, spread the peanut butter, next spread the jelly, then put the pieces together. When students have hands-on experience with a topic, they will be able to better understand what something means.
Vocabulary is a HUGE part of cooking and one of the main reasons it will benefit speech and language skills. Children will be exposed to new vocabulary words that they may not have seen before. In addition, they will get a visual example of any vocabulary words used in the recipe. Another reason I love to cook with students is to work on AAC Core Vocabulary when able. This means that no matter my student’s verbal ability, they can cook and follow recipes. Check out cooking set 1 and cooking set 2 of AAC Cooking with Core Vocabulary. There are even data tracking sheets and comprehension questions to go with the AAC Cooking Sets!
#5 Math Practice
Next, math practice is an obvious benefit of cooking in speech therapy. Whenever you are able to work on other academic areas in addition to speech and language, that’s a huge WIN. There is much math practice to be had during cooking. For example, the recipe will tell you the AMOUNT that you need for each item. It is also a great time to work on counting and learning how to use measuring cups! Cooking is a great time to help students recognize numbers, count in sequence and discuss the values of more and less.
#6 Fine Motor Practice
In addition to math practice, fine motor practice is another big element of cooking. Many students in special education need practice on fine motor skills and cooking is an easy time to incorporate that. In the past, I have worked with my occupational therapist to plan cooking lessons together. This way, we can both integrate skills that our students need to practice for IEP goals. Students will work on fine motor skills such as: circling, holding a measuring cup, pouring, opening bags/ boxes, etc. The best part is that they don’t realize you are gathering important data during all of this. This data can better prepare you for where to go with a student’s IEP goals.
#7 Social Skills
As an SLP, do you work on social skills with students? Hopefully the answer is yes! Cooking lessons are no exception and can be a great time to focus on these types of skills. Besides this, cooking also works on teamwork, sharing, using manners and following directions. Just another of the many reasons there are so many benefits of cooking in speech therapy!
Will you be doing any cooking in speech therapy this year?
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