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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

The Benefits of Recipe-Based Language Lessons

Published July 26, 2011 8:39 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

I have been using recipe-based language lessons off and on for about 10 years or so in various classroom settings, as well as in homecare, and each time similar results occur. Not only do the parents, teachers and children seem to really enjoy and anticipate the recipe of the week, but I also see positive changes in the way the children communicate.  

For today's post, I wanted to talk about the language-based recipe lessons and some of the really exciting skills I see emerging and developing in the children on my current caseload from week to week. Here is a list of some of the IEP based skills/goals that are imbedded into the lessons, as well as areas where I see overall improvements happening for many of the children:

  • Picture and Object Naming - The children have the opportunity to name the ingredients, cooking tools, common objects (e.g., spoon, fork, etc.). In addition, recipes often follow the curriculum and can reinforce vocabulary being taught in the classroom.
  • Initiation - The children are invited to independently raise their hand to volunteer to stir, pour, etc. In this area, I see normally reserved and quiet children begin to pop out of their seat, hand in the air, hoping to be the next one to "pour the milk" or "push the button."
  • Sentence Building - The students often use a sentence strip and/or pacing board to ask for what they want or need. With food as the motivator, communication often comes more readily.
  • Taking Turns - The children practice taking turns with classmates, waiting their turns to stir, scoop, pour, etc.
  • Social Skills and Pragmatics - The children eat together and learn the names of their classmates. They say their classmates' names when they pass the bowl or food to them. They talk about their experiences (e.g., who has tried pudding before; who does/does not like bananas).
  • Describing - The children talk about how the food(s) smell, look, feel, sound, and taste. This time lends itself to classroom discussions and gives the communication-challenged child an opportunity to participate and share information about their opinions, preferences and experiences.
  • Sequencing and Recall - The children have the opportunity to both organize and then recall the steps that were taken to complete the recipe (e.g., What did we do first?).
  • Comprehension/Answering yes or no and ‘wh' questions - The children have the opportunity to follow steps to complete a task. They are also given a chance at the end to share what they have learned: What did we make today? What four ingredients did we use? What tools did we use? Etc.
In addition to communication, there are other areas where I see improvements happening!
  • Overcoming Food Fears - The children are expanding their taste buds by trying new foods and overcoming food fears and aversions.
  • Savoring the Senses - The recipes really get the senses involved! The children are peeling bananas, tasting cinnamon, mashing up cookies. I have found that children who often experience much difficulty sitting through a 5 minute lesson or short book can attend for an entire 20-30 minute recipe-based lesson because they are actively involved in the process. The activities are hands-on, helping their body and mind to be fully engaged and focused.
  • Carryover at Home - Because the parents are given the weekly recipe, broken down into steps and with pictures attached, they are able to reproduce the recipes at home, reinforce the vocabulary and nurture new food interests their child has been exposed to.  

If you are doing recipe-based language lessons in your speech therapy practice, please share your experiences and let us know how things are going!

A Special Note: A few months ago, ADVANCE contacted me about creating an e-book out of some of my recipes. I am very happy to announce that the much awaited e-book, Recipes for Early Intervention, is now complete and can be downloaded here!

The e-book contains 10 recipes from this blog, and it's packed with vibrant pictures and helpful tips for therapists and parents to use when engaging in feeding therapy and working with young children!

 

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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