Friday, October 23, 2009

Cooking Class

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On Friday mornings our class has cooking. Here is how we run our lesson:

1. We gather around a large group table and discuss the recipe of the week and how it ties into the theme. This works on recall of past events.

2. Students are asked what we need to do before we cook and then we all wash our hands. This reviews basic hygiene and following a sequence.

3. Students volunteer to gather materials for the recipe. They volunteer by using their voice, voice out put switch, AAC device or raising their hand. This allows students to work on calling for attention and using a communication switch or device.

4. Each student is given a card (see photo of cards above) for an ingredient or other item we need for the recipe. (Staff know that the half closest to the ingredient table are to stay on the far side of the room after gathering their item until the other half of the table is finished to prevent a traffic jam.) Gathering items allows for meeting goals like ambulation/self-propulsion, matching a picture to an object, reach and grasp, exploring a new object placed on the wheelchair tray or decreasing tactile defensiveness.

5. Once back at the table we follow the recipe. There are two things we always try to include: some kind of switch activated appliance and something we can count like stirring or spreading. we use switches for the blender, food processor, grinder, mixer or battery operated flour sifter. Once we get one we will use them for our new pouring cup. Through the activity students use AAC to volunteer for turns and to comment and ask questions (well sometime, we are working on asking questions).

6. Finally we either wait for our recipe to cook and clean up OR we dig in!

By the way, thanks to my former student teacher SU for the "shopping for ingredients" idea!

Here are other things that can be done with laminated ingredients cards:
  • match card to card for practice
  • play memory
  • play Go Fish
  • play 20 Questions by having a student draw a card and having the other students ask yes/no questions (via AAC if needed) to guess what food it is (is it sweet? do you drink it? is it a snack food? do you have to cook it to eat it?)
  • match card to item in grocery store
  • match card to card to find out where to put an item (label cabinets/shelves/drawers with cards)
  • sort into food groups/place on the food pyramid
  • sort by type of packaging (bag, jar, box)
  • sort into groups by how/where you pack in a grocery bag (freezer bag, on top of the bag, on the bottom of the bag, in a separate bag)
  • sort by first letter (or if your students can do it, alphabetize)
  • using a jig to make sets of ten (one to one correspondence and packaging skills)
Don't forget that cutting out ingredient cards, laminating and cutting out again and hole punching as well as attaching to the split ring for storage (if you decide to store them that way) can all be vocational skills!


  1. Kate - I would like to work on sorting with my students this year. Do you have any tips on working on sorting items with students using step-by-steps who are working on yes/no questions? I was wondering if I could say, "Is this a dog?" and then put the item in whatever category, based on their yes/no response. I didn't know if there was an easier/more effective way to do this. I feel like I always get caught up using too many words and making tasks more difficult than they need to be.


  2. One was would be to put just a "yes" message on a switch and do partner assisted scanning. Another way would be to list all the categories on the step-by-step and have the student hit the switch until he/she gets to the correct category. I think I would need to know more about the students capabilities. You can email me at teechkidz at gmail dot com

  3. I cook with my special needs students every week. I use this resource book with my students it helped me to teach cooking, reading, and math skills. You can look at the book at this site. I hope it help you and your students.


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