As a special education teacher working in early childhood (both in the classroom and in homes), some of the most language-promoting activities I have done involved following a visual recipe. Now of course with COVID-19 and different protocols, this may have thrown a small wrench in your dreams of “cooking”, but I encourage you to find a way through it! The amount of engagement and language (whether through a AAC device, verbal output, visuals, signs, etc.) I see during a recipe activity is incredibly high. Not to mention all the amazing basic learner skills that go into this type of activity: i.e., following directions both verbally & visually, engagement, cooperativeness, task completion, matching objects to pictures, comprehension, pairing and the list goes on! Check out some fun & freebies below for March!
Sarah’s adapted St. Patrick’s Day books
If you haven’t tried a cooking or visual recipe with a group of students here are some tips! (1) Have your materials ready to go, in view, but not yet in reach. If you lay everything out on the table and have students, come over, hands will be in everything and things may get swiped off the table or dumped. I like to put my items on a small table or desk behind me and present them one at a time as we go through the recipe. (2) Make sure to have student’s communication devices and visual boards present to support language. It’s important to model the language and core words you may be targeting during the lesson. (3) Expect messes and give a little taste of materials as you go along. If you put a pile of cereal or chocolate chips in front of me, I will instantly want to eat it. Same goes for kiddos. There’s no harm in giving them a few pieces to nibble on while you explore the ingredients! (3) Have fun! Even if kids are not verbally imitating you, there is so much power in connecting that experience with language. When I’m working with my families, I like to emphasize narrating what’s happening. We naturally want to question kids but it’s important to model what they’re doing. It can be easy to constantly ask, “What’s that, what are you doing, what did you put in the bowl?” Use language such as “Pretzels IN!, stir stir stir!, sticky marshmallows!, BIG scoop, dump it IN!”.
Here is the visual recipe that I created for you to download and try with your students!