Hey everyone! I’m sorry I have been a little MIA on the blog front but the beginning of the school year is always a whirlwind. Getting organized and back in to routines with not only work but with my family is always an interesting time to say the least. Anyway…I have some really exciting things to share with you! If you follow me on Instagram (@live.love.speech) and Facebook (Live Love Speech), you know by now that I’m a HUGE fan of cooking with my preschoolers. This has been the case for a few years now. The amount of language I hear and the number of skills I am able to target are really just two of the many reasons I am so passionate about this.
Now let me just be real for a minute…Cooking and making crafts with your students means a lot of supplies and materials which of course all equals…MONEY! While we ALL have spent endless amounts of “dough” on materials, supplies, etc. to make therapy the best it can be, there are definitely ways to get a little help. Which brings me to…GRANTS! I seriously have to give a major shout-out to my district’s educational foundation which not only supports our students by providing grants but does this for the fabulous teachers, SLPs, OTs, etc. I was so fortunate to receive funding for a grant I wrote for the 2016-2017 school year called “Cooking Up Good Speech and Language”. To apply for the grant I needed to fill out an application stating what my objective was, goals I would target, how I would execute my sessions, and listing the materials/items I would need. Some items I knew I would need were: small appliances including a microwave and toaster, paper products (plates, forks, spoons, cups), and food/ingredients (flour, oil, food coloring, sugar, salt, etc.). If you district has any type of foundation that gives grants to employees, I HIGHLY suggest applying. No amount is too small when it comes to getting great therapy materials. One option would be to look for local organizations that provide grants and/or financial help for school district employees. There is also this AMAZING website www.teacherscount.org/grants which provides an extensive list of sites where you can apply for grants including one of my FAVS…Donorschoose.org.
I am a HUGE fan of using themed based activities when it comes to my speech sessions and this is especially important when choosing what “recipe” I will be using for group speech. Oh a little side note…I do a weekly in-class group session one time a week for approximately 30-45 minutes which is where mostly all of my cooking happens! Even if there is not a specific theme for the week you can easily pull recipes based on the season and/or upcoming holiday. Which brings me to my Cooking and Craft Visual Recipe Pack! *You can check out some of the pictures above of this pack!* I began making this last spring and worked extremely hard on it all throughout the summer because I really wanted to be super organized for this school year. I figured if I could create visual step-by-step recipes for every season then hopefully I would be SET for group speech. In previous years I would STRESS (BIG TIME!) week after week thinking what in the world am I going to do for my group sessions. This cook book includes 50 visual recipes organized by season (& miscellaneous), visual comprehension cards for each recipe, vocabulary cards, lesson plan and data sheets, a black and white mini recipe book, IEP goals, and much more! The feedback I have gotten from the SLPs and OTs in my district and SO MANY OF YOU has been beyond amazing. You can read more about what is included in my Cooking and Craft Visual Recipe Pack and download the free preview by clicking HERE!
Each recipe card includes the ingredients and materials you will need which obviously makes planning super easy. I also make a weekly to-do list so I am super prepared with what I will need. If you plan on doing a lot of cooking with your students, a good tip is to stock up on some basic materials/ingredients which you will certainly use. Again, we all know this means spending money, however, being savvy when it comes to shopping is a MUST.
Dollar tree will be your BFF as well as Walmart, Target, Big Lots, and AMAZON. Here are a few staples that you can grab for about a $1 each: Mixing bowls, spoons, paper plates, measuring spoons, measuring cups, cutting board, baking sheet, forks, knives, can opener, and plastic cups. There are also various “food items” you can easily grab from your local dollar store like flour, salt, sugar, food coloring, oil, some spices, and I’m sure much more. Next time you are near a dollar store or Walmart just take a quick look up and down some aisles and see what great deals you can get. Of course some items are going to cost you more than a dollar but there are still always great DEALS you can get on things like microwaves, blenders, etc….you just NEED to shop around and do a little research. Also, there is no harm in utilizing your faculty room for appliances or even borrowing items from your awesome co-workers, family, and friends!
Now that you have all of your materials and ingredients you are ready to start doing some cooking or non-cooking in some cases lol. What I mean by “no-cook” is no need for a stove or oven and no time spent waiting for things to “bake or cook up”. For many of us, we don’t have access to a full kitchen at work (although that WOULD be amazing right?! The SLP kitchen?!) so thinking outside the box is a must. One of the first things I do either the day before or the morning of my group speech sessions is prepare my visuals. I don’t think I have ever done a session WITHOUT visuals. For many of my preschoolers this is a necessity for not only learning but for COMMUNICATING. I love when a student grabs a visual and tells me they need “more” of something or answers one of my questions (“What do I need to mix these ingredients?”) by choosing the “spoon” visual. While some of the recipes I use could easily be made in 15 minutes or less, I always take my time and target as many language skills as I possibly can including vocabulary, answering/asking WH questions, describing nouns, following directions, naming/identifying actions, labeling, basic concepts, and so much more. Honestly, if you keep your students “eyes on the prize” (the finished product and how much fun it will be to eat it or play with it), it is very easy to make your session a full 30-45 minutes long! There is no rush and you will be surprised at how much language you will hear during these sessions.
I love getting instant feedback when our sessions are coming to an end. When my students are either eating their delicious treat/snack or playing with their play dough, I throw out some comprehension questions. Like I’ve said numerous times, VISUALS are a MUST for my students especially in the beginning of the school year. My visual comprehension question cards have been coming in handy big time when working on answering questions after these lessons come to an end.
One last piece of advice I can give you is to communicate with your students parents. I am sure they will LOVE to hear how much fun their child had during speech and what you worked on. Better yet, it may spark an idea for a super fun activity they can use at home. You can check out the picture above of the form I send home to parents from time to time to keep them informed on what we did during our group cooking sessions.
If you are ready to try a No-Cook recipe with your students then please grab this Green Apple Play Dough Recipe FREEBIE from my TpT Store. *Don’t forget to leave me some feedback if you grab this freebie* My preschoolers and I made this easy and fun recipe a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit. You can check out some pictures below of how the lesson went!
I really hope you enjoyed this post and found it informative. I WOULD absolutely LOVE to hear how you incorporate cooking and crafts into your speech sessions. Seriously one of my favorite things about being a blogger and working in this amazing field is getting to know and chat with so many of you! THANK YOU as always for your continued support and LOVE!