1. LANGUAGE SKILLS
When I start a cooking project with my kiddos, I like to take my time. A huge reason for that is to focus on language development. When you’re reading recipes, you can focus on new words that students might not be familiar with. You can also dive into the names for kitchen tools and action words such as “mix, stir, measure, and scoop”. Taking the time to focus on vocabulary before we begin the activity always pays off!
2. FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Young learners need LOTS of practice strengthening fine motor skills. As a preschool SLP, I am always down for an activity that helps my students work on fine motor skills! Mixing, squeezing, spreading, and cutting are just a few fun ways to develop fine motor and eye-hand coordination.
Cooking a special treat (AKA soon getting to enjoy a special treat) is HIGHLY motivating to kids. This might be one of the number one benefits of cooking with kids, honestly. Food in general is typically a great motivator for my speech clients to step outside of what feels comfortable to them. If we are making a fun recipe together, I find my kiddos are more than willing to jump into the lessons and do some serious work!
4. SENSORY EXPERIENCE
Who loves hands-on learning? I know I do! Taking an active, hands-on learning approach in any lesson provides your students with a new and exciting way to practice their skill set. Kids love hands-on activities and cooking is no exception. But have you ever noticed that many of our SLP students have some sensory issues too?!? Cooking activities allow students a non-threatening and even fun way to explore new textures, smells, and tastes!
As an SLP we know that articulation is often a goal we have with our clients. Cooking provides a natural way to connect articulation goals to the activity. Specific speech sounds can be targeted using the names of food, cooking tools, colors, and more. For example, if you are targeting the “s” sound, focus on words such as “soft”, “salt”, and “slice”. Cooking activities make it easy to weave these focus lessons in without your students even knowing it!
6. SOCIAL SKILLS
Ahhh, if you work with preschoolers you already know that teamwork can sometimes be a struggle for this age group. Students of this age are just learning how to cooperate with others and need ALL the practice they can get! Cooking is a great way to encourage working together in a FUN way! Kids can practice sharing, asking for a turn, discussing what they liked or didn’t like, and ultimately, building a sense of community with their peers. And . . . in the end, they see and taste the benefits of working with others.
Building self-esteem in the early years of education is essential for life-long success. As teachers and SLPs, we know that confidence-building activities will benefit our students GREATLY in the long run. Following and making recipes encourages kids to be independent and self-directed. Think about how PROUD kids are when they make something! Cooking allows them to feel accomplished and proud of their work.
8. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Cooking encourages kids to use critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity! Cooking truly is an effortless way to encourage higher-level thinking in your lessons. Other skills targeted include following directions, sequencing, numbers, measurements, cause, and effect, listening, and more. You will be amazed at the long list of learning goals you can target in a single cooking session with your littles!
9. LIFE SKILLS
Cooking is such an important life skill especially when little kids become big kids! Learning about basic ingredients, cooking techniques, nutrition, and healthy eating happens naturally through cooking activities. Allowing students to explore these concepts is such a great service to them. Many of my speech clients have never participated in a cooking activity and I just LOVE seeing those little faces light up with excitement as they partake in learning a new skill.
10. MAKING MEMORIES
Ok, this one isn’t necessarily a skill, but isn’t this something we are all after? I mean all the skill building in the world is great, but I also want my students to remember our time together fondly and build a good rapport with them. I want to develop deep and meaningful relationships with them so that they trust me and look forward to our sessions. For me, that’s a BIG and important part of this job that shouldn’t be overlooked! And luckily, I have found cooking with my students makes this happen faster than ANY other lesson!
START COOKING TODAY!
Are you excited to jump in?! I hope I have convinced you to give cooking a try in your classroom or SLP sessions. The list of benefits is a long one and I truly believe that adding regular cooking lessons to your sessions will dramatically improve and enrich your teaching.
If you’re looking for a SUPER simple way to start cooking with your littles, check out my Cooking and Craft Visual Recipe packs Vol. 1 and Vol 2.Volume 1 includes 50 seasonal recipes to use in your sessions. Fun recipes like Fall Leaves Rice Krispie Treats, Grinch Popcorn, and Ice Cream Dough will captivate your students! Volume 2 includes 30 more recipes for milkshakes, doughs, and snacks.
Both of these sets come with step-by-step, full-color, visual recipe cards. The detailed visual recipe cards are what sets this resource apart and make them perfect for SLP sessions. Also included you will find vocabulary cards and comprehension questions to round out your lessons. Check out both Volume 1 and Volume 2 and get cooking!
SAVE THESE IDEAS FOR LATER!
I hope you are just as excited about cooking with your students as I am! There are SO many benefits to cooking with kids and I know it will make for engaged and excited learners in your speech sessions! Don’t forget to save these ideas for later on your favorite classroom Pinterest board.
Happy Cooking, Friends!