Using Visuals and Cooking Activities in Speech Therapy

Using Visuals and Cooking Activities in Speech Therapy

Ever since I started working as an SLP, I have loved working with preschool-aged children. This population is a lot of fun to work with, but I know it can also be a little tricky at times to meet their needs. If you're looking for some fun ways to utilize visuals in speech therapy sessions, I have JUST the thing for you! 

Tips and ideas for using visual supports and cooking activities with nonverbal clients and students.

 

What Is AAC?

For those who are unfamiliar, AAC refers to "Augmentative and Alternative Communication". In the SLP world, this is a common phrase that refers to the many different ways to supplement or compensate for speaking.

Using ACC in your speech therapy classroom is perfect to pair with a visual based learning approach.

This could be a permanent or temporary usage of AAC for individuals with expressive communication disorders or speech delays. 

When it comes to preschool speech therapy, AAC methods are typically used temporarily as a support with the goal of moving towards verbal expression. This means for our purposes, AAC usually refers to gestures, pointing, facial expressions, and visual supports. AAC can also refer to ASL (American Sign Language) for those with more permanent communication disorders and greater needs. 

If you've been around here for a while, you've probably heard me describe my love of using visual supports. This is why! Visual supports are such an important AAC tool to help kiddos gain understanding, learn new words, and ultimately communicate more effectively. 

How To Use Visuals In Speech Therapy

When it came to my preschool speech sessions, visuals were simple to incorporate and encourage with the use of a few of my favorite tools. When I was still actively working as an SLP in sessions, more than half of my caseload were non-verbal or minimally verbal. These students NEEDED visual support to help get the most out of every session.

Using visual supports like these will give your speech therapy students the opportunity to practice using their ACC devices.

Using visual stimuli motivates children with limited verbal communication and also provided meaning to the activity. It also allows children an opportunity to use techniques like pointing, using hand gestures, and facial expressions to communicate. 

 

In my sessions, my go-to visual support was always a velcro board filled with picture cards to help aid in our lesson. The picture cards might feature vocabulary words, action words, or basic concepts. When speaking, I'd point at relevant cards as I say the word to help tie the lesson together. 

This helps increase the understanding of language, encourages positive behavior, and provides structure and support to kiddos in the session. Visual supports are great in speech sessions, but they can also be used across multiple settings like school, home, and within the community! 

Cooking Activities with Visuals 

When it comes to visual supports though, there's one option I'm particularly fond of... visual recipes! Cooking with kiddos is one of the BEST ways to promote speech and language skills while using visuals and techniques. In my printable, Cooking & Craft Resource, I have compiled 50 fun recipes that help children expand their language skills in a new, exciting way. The use of visual recipe cards makes encouraging and developing speech approachable and fun!

Each Visual Recipe features a step-by-step recipe card with visuals to help children understand the recipe. There are also vocabulary cards included so you can make your own visual support board. When using the recipes, you can point to specific vocabulary cards to help illustrate cooking tools, ingredients, and more to the kiddos in your group. Finally, use the included comprehension questions to encourage additional communication and socialization in your group. 

The visual recipe cards are a game changer when it comes to children who rely on visuals and/or AAC in sessions. By providing visual pictures of everything discussed in the lesson, you'll be able to help children gain understanding, answer questions through pointing and gesturing, and promote language growth. 

In addition to my printable Cooking & Craft Resources, I use my Visual Recipe Cards for Kids. This physical product is filled with 48 kid-friendly recipes to support learning. These cards are great for SLP sessions and classrooms, but also wonderful to use at home with kiddos of your own. The recipes included feature the same step-by-step layout and pictures to help encourage understanding and support learning. These cards, however, do not include the additional vocabulary cards and comprehension questions that can be found in the printable sets.

Making The Most of Speech Therapy Activities 

When it comes to making the most of speech therapy sessions, I encourage others to try and use as many functional tools and techniques as possible.

Using ACC devices with visual cooking activities like these Grab N' Go Cooking resources ensure your students get the adapted practice they need.

Doing this will allow multiple opportunities for learning and help non-verbal kids grow in their speech and language skills. 

The best way to do this is with a combination of visual supports (like visual recipes and vocabulary cards) and other fun tools like my Grab and Go Cooking Speech and Language Activities.

This fun set of cooking themed activities is perfect for working on vocabulary, actions, and concepts related to cooking. It is also great for preparing and reviewing language goals.

I recommend using this set of cards prior to cooking to help familiarize students with vocabulary words, actions, and utensil functions that will occur in the cooking lessons. With these fun activity cards you can target the following areas: 

  • Nouns
  • Actions
  • Object Functions
  • Adjectives
  • Associations
  • Basic Concepts (shapes, colors, hot/cold, soft/hard, most/least, big/small, wet/dry, & full/empty)

These cards are perfect for on-the-go therapy, RTI, centers, and in-class therapy sessions. To use, students will use magnetic chips, bingo daubers, play-doh, or markers to choose the correct answers on each card. There is also an additional visual support poster included with explanations and examples of the five senses to help students further understand this concept.  

Try Out a Visual Recipe In Your Sessions 

Grab one of my FREE Visual Recipes to get started! I recommend trying something simple and fun like my Unicorn Bait.

Try this adorable and tasty Unicorn Bait visual recipe with your students using ACC devices in your speech therapy classroom today.

 

This whimsical, no-cook recipe is perfect for the classroom or speech room. Included you'll find vocabulary cards, a visual recipe card, and comprehension questions.

 

And if you want to check out ALL of my visual recipe cards & supports for cooking, be sure to check out the resources below! These make meeting the needs of a variety of kiddos easy and fun!

Keep your speech sessions fresh and engaging with fun cooking activities.

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Tips and ideas for using visual supports and cooking activities with nonverbal clients and students.

 

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