Cooking—The Ultimate Language Lesson

Cooking—The Ultimate Language Lesson

imageFor the child with hearing loss, we are always looking for opportunities for exposure to language, whether it be to fill in the gaps or to pre-expose to new language. While there are many different activities and ways to achieve this goal, one of my favorite language-based activities is cooking. Not only is cooking one of my absolute passions in life, but it is fun and provides opportunities to work on so many different listening, speech and language skills.

The ideas are limitless and can be worked on during simple cooking activities, such as making instant pudding, or more complicated recipes like making home made pizza. No matter what recipe you choose, listening, speech and language skills can be targeted for children who are just beginning to learn to listen and use language, as well as for children working on refining their skills.

Target Listening Skills

Detection-detecting the sound of simmering or boiling on the stove, the sound of the timer going off, the sound of the water running in the sink

Discrimination-discriminating the sound of the microwave timer vs. an egg timer

Identification-identifying specific kitchen sounds (mixer, can opener, etc…), identifying the labels for items in the kitchen by selecting an item from a closed set (“Get the sugar” from a selection of items on the counter) or open set (“Get the eggs” when they are inside the refrigerator).

Comprehension-following single-step directions (e.g., “Pour in the milk”) or multi-step directions (e.g., “Get an egg, crack it, and mix it with the whisk”)

Target Vocabulary

  • Names of foods items on the ingredient list (e.g., flour, milk, sugar, egg, salt)
  • Names of kitchen appliances (e.g., oven, refrigerator, stove)
  • Names of kitchen items (e.g., dish, spoon, bowl, strainer, ladle)
  • Actions to perform while cooking (e.g., stir, mix, cut, roll, bake, pour, sift)Adjectives for texture (e.g., lumpy, smooth, soft, thick, crunchy, sticky)
  • Adjectives for temperature (e.g., hot ,cold, warm, room temperature)
  • Adjectives for taste (e.g., sweet, salty, bitter, sour)
  • Adjectives for quantity (e.g., more, less, some, a lot, half, all)
  • Measurement terms (e.g., pint, cup, teaspoon, tablespoon)
  • Sequencing terms (e.g., first, next, then, finally, before, after)

Target Grammar

  • Target present progressive -ing during the activity (e.g. “I am mixing”, “We are cutting”, “You are chopping”).
  • Target past tense –ed after the activity to review the steps (e.g., baked, mixed, stirred, opened, rolled, poured).
  • Target plural -s (e.g., 2 boxes, 3 cups, 5 eggs).
  • Target increased utterance length by modeling utterances longer than the child’s average utterance length or creating a carrier phrase to use throughout (“I put in the milk.”).

Target Articulation

  • If working on /s/, target words like stir, sift, sink, sour, spoon, same.
  • If working on /k/, target words such as cook, can, cold, cup, cut.
  • If working on /r/, target words like rice, refrigerator, rack, round, flour, sugar.
  • If working on /l/, target words such as lick, like, lemon, ladle, salty, bowl.

Target Math skills

  • Counting out items
  • Adding
  • Subtracting
  • Fractions

Target Language Skills

  • Use sabotage – follow the direction literally, put 2 eggs in the bowl, without cracking them first.
  • One of my favorites is focusing on the multiple meaning word of flour/flower. Instead of taking out the flour, talk about (or actually use) a real or fake flower.
  • Work on answering questions- Which one do you like better?, What should we do next? Where should be put the ____?, Who is going to pour the milk in?”,
  • Work on social pragmatic language- asking questions,taking turns, commenting, multi-turn exchanges about what you are eating afterwards.

While your enthusiasm for cooking may not be as intense as mine, cooking is a wonderfully, language-rich way to expose children with hearing loss to many of their listening, speech and language goals, while having fun doing it! Explore new recipes, share the experiences and enrich your child’s language!

Bon Appetit!



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