I love incorporating cooking activities into my therapy sessions.  I try to do cooking activities once a month with some of my students in my special education classrooms.  Why do I do cooking in speech???  Cooking is a great way to work on following directions, requesting, sequencing, learning new vocabulary, problem solving, turn taking, and so much more.  Not only does it work on all these important skills but it’s so much fun for my students.  There are lots of great Fall and Thanksgiving themed recipes to make.  Here are some of my favorites!    

This recipe is not difficult to make but it has 8 ingredients with different amounts of each which makes it ideal to work on requesting, answering how many questions, and sequencing skills.  I give my students either a visual or written recipe depending on their skill level so they can follow along as we go.  My students take turns completing all of the steps in the recipe.  If my student can read I have him/her read the step when it is their turn if not I try and have them point to the pictures/words as I read it to them. 

When it is their turn, my student has to request the item they need to add to the bowl.  I created visuals to pair with the recipe for students who use picture exchange to communicate.  This is also a perfect time for your students to request using their AAC devices such as “pretzels” or “I want pretzels.”  Requesting food items is usually really motivating for my students!  Lots of yummy items to add into this trail mix.     

This recipe is also great to work on those descriptive concepts.  There are crunchy items, soft items, sweet items, salty item, and more.   After you make the trail mix have your students answer the visual or written questions which go along with the recipe.  Sometimes I have the students write 2-3 descriptive words about some of the ingredients in the recipe.   

Pumpkin Fluff is another classic and go to recipe for me around this time of the year.  My students took turns requesting and adding all four ingredients which included pumpkin pie filling, pudding mix, cinnamon, and whipped cream.  Then we used the hand mixer to blend it all together.   We dipped pretzel sticks, apple slices, and graham crackers into the pumpkin fluff and it was delicious!  After we finished eating we voted on which dipper we liked best.

After you finish making the pumpkin fluff you can have your students complete the sequencing activity or the follow-up question.  In the past I have also had some of my students write how to make the Pumpkin Fluff using those transition words such as First, Next, and Last.  It was a good recipe for that because there are not too many steps and the students could remember the order of the four ingredients. 

I usually do different Thanksgiving related cooking activities with my students in the month of November.  I wanted to share my Mashed Potato, Turkey Stuffing, and Cranberry Fluff recipes I like to use with my students as Free Resources for you to use with your students.  For the Mashed Potatoes and Turkey Stuffing recipes I created 2 different sets of recipes depending on the size of the group.  Both sets of recipes consist of a visual recipe and written recipe.  The first version I use in therapy with my small groups of 3-4 students and the other version I made to use with larger group of students or the whole class.  We often have a Thanksgiving party in some of my special education classrooms so each group makes a different large group recipe.  Then we get to try all the different Thanksgiving foods during our Thanksgiving Fest!    

I created the Cranberry Fluff recipe because we needed another cooking station for our Thanksgiving party.  We just ate the cranberry fluff as a side along with all the other yummy Thanksgiving foods but if you make the cranberry fluff by itself the students could also dip graham crackers or vanilla wafers into the fluff.  Anything with cool whip usually goes over well with my students!!!     

Make sure to get out those communication books and AAC devices so your students can work on requesting when making these recipes.  I included visuals for all the items in each recipe which you can add to your student’s PECS/Communication book.  You can have them work on requesting the item using a single picture exchange or with the “I want” sentence strip.   

They can also request the needed items for each recipe with their AAC devices.  The more practice with those AAC devices the better.  Fun cooking activities are always good to get lots of requesting and commenting in on those devices.  Don’t forget to use some of those descriptive concepts to describe the food items or how things taste after you try the food.

There are follow up visual and written questions for the Mashed Potato and Turkey Stuffing Recipes.  I made a sequencing activity as a follow-up for the Cranberry Fluff recipe.  I like to practice sequencing with these simple recipes and have the students work on telling me how they make the recipe using the sequencing terms.

If you are interested in the Harvest Trail Mix or Pumpkin Fluff you can find them on TPT with the link – Fall Recipes

If you are interested in using these Free Thanksgiving Recipes click the food item for the link.

Mashed Potatoes

Turkey Stuffing

Cranberry Fluff                           

Hope your students enjoy cooking as much as my do!


Sarah Allen, MA CCC-SLP
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