Staying at Home: Cook with Your Child

As we think about engaging and learning while at home, cooking provides a multitude of multisensory learning opportunities. Pick one food that your child loves and create an opportunity to cook that food repeatedly throughout the week. Pick a quieter time and quieter place for this activity for optimal visual abilities. Create a non-complex surface with increased spacing of materials. Block distracting light and movement around the activity. This can be a long or very short activity.

Some simple favorites:

  • Koolaid
  • Eggs
  • Smoothies
  • Nachos
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
  • Chex mix
  • Ice cream sundaes
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Pre-packaged Mac and Cheese
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Pizza

Let’s think about what this one activity provides our students with CVI:

Visual Benefits: Remember to engage visual skills at all times. Tell your child what they will see. Show the item to the child without talking. Describe the visual features of the item. Show again without talking. Allow tactile exploration.

  • That repeated visual opportunity will provide visual prediction that your child needs to develop visual recognition of the foods, the packaging, the utensils and the storage containers that are regularly and consistently seen.
  • Thinking about the support of color, picking packages, utensils and containers of very different colors will help the child discriminate and recognize each based on color.
  • That will allow you to describe the visual features: what the food, packaging, utensils and the containers look like.
  • Repetition provides opportunities to develop visual memories.
  • The movement of the cooking sequence draws and helps maintain visual attention.
  • Using these real materials will allow exploration of the different visual perspectives of the visual materials.

Compensatory Skills Benefits:

  • Activities engage visual, auditory, olfactory, taste and tactile senses; all of which support visual recognition skills.

Language Benefits:

  • Creating foods provides opportunities to develop sequencing and following directions.
  • Provides opportunities to use position words: “on top of”, “add to”, “in/out”.
  • Provides opportunities to use attribute words for the visual aspects and tactile aspects of the foods.
  • Provides opportunities to use cooking vocabulary: “mix”, “fold”, “stir”, “beat”, “add”.

Cognitive Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to use concepts: hot/cold
  • Provides opportunities to use concepts: more/less
  • Provides opportunities to use concepts of attributes: big/little, long/short, curved/straight
  • Provides opportunities to use concepts of the appropriate storage of foods (those stored in the cabinets, refrigerator, freezer).
  • Provides opportunities to understand the properties of liquids and solids
  • Provides opportunities to use for grouping and categorizing
  • Provides opportunities to understand parts to whole: sliced banana vs. the whole banana.
  • Provides opportunities to for food handling: peeling, cracking

Reading Benefits Reading in print, Braille, symbols, pictures

  • Provides opportunities to for reading in print, Braille, symbols, pictures
  • Provides opportunities to create lists of things to buy to get ingredients
  • Provides opportunities for reading and following directions of the recipes

Mathematics Benefits:

  • Provides opportunities to for measuring and weighing
  • Provides opportunities to understand one to one correspondence
  • Provides opportunities to understand time concepts
  • Provides opportunities to understand temperatures
  • Provides opportunities to understand size concepts
  • Provides opportunities to count
  • Provides opportunities to cut into foods into factions
  • Provides opportunities to fill and dump
  • Provides opportunities to understand portions

Science Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to experience cause and effect
  • Provides opportunities to use chemistry
  • Provides opportunities to understand how foods are different in form: milks require pouring while mayonnaise requires scooping
  • Provides opportunities to understand how heating and freezing impacts foods
  • Provides opportunities to use force for cutting, separating

Social Benefit

  • Provides opportunities for sharing
  • Provides opportunities for cooperating

Motor Benefits

  • Provides opportunities for opening and closing containers
  • Provides opportunities for holding heavy and light materials
  • Provides opportunities to use two hands together
  • Provides opportunities for stirring different textures with different tools
  • Provides opportunities to use pouring, scooping, kneading

Advocacy Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to plan
  • Provides opportunities to make choices.

Career Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to sort needed ingredients and tools
  • Provides opportunities for cleaning needed tools
  • Provides opportunities to set up for completing a task

Technology Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to use recipes on iPads
  • Provides opportunities to use blenders, mixers and other kitchen equipment
  • Provides opportunities to use the oven, the microwave and to use stovetops

Even if your child is not eating foods, participating in tube formula feeding is also an opportunity for many of these same learning experiences.

Each activity can be easily adapted for the various functioning abilities for each child. Some will be independent with supervision and some might require hand under hand support for participation. Touching, looking at, pushing something into a container is all participation. All levels of abilities can be engaged and learning fruitful for all!

Want more? You can use these to follow up after your cooking. Use again and again!

  • Take pictures and make a Powerpoint book of the ingredients or process
  • Find a Youtube of a character making the same food. Follow up your activity with this literacy material: Here is one about making pizza https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX2vQNNC80c
  • Make a recipe book
  • Make a symbols book for the utensils

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