It is largely recognized that the holiday season is a lovely, yet chaotic time of year. During this busy time, being with family often takes precedent over the speech and language homework sent home by your child’s speech-language therapist. Why not combine a holiday tradition with speech-language homework?
Use this recipe for extra language and speech reinforcement while decorating cookies this holiday season:
- 2 cups of basic concepts: While adding ingredients give directions emphasizing the understanding of quantitative concepts, such as all, some, one, both. For example, “Add both cups of flour” or “Put on some red sprinkles and some green sprinkles.” If this is too advanced, you can always get extra practice with counting. You can count the cups of ingredients or the number of cookies.
- 1 teaspoon of adjectives: Adjectives or descriptive words can easily be targeted during baking. You can talk about ways to describe the cookies that you are making, e.g., “Look! You made a big cookie and your sister made a small cookie,” or you can give directions including adjectives, e.g., “Decorate the long tree cookie and I’ll decorate the short tree cookie.”
- 2 tablespoons of vocabulary: Like with any activity throughout your day, it is good to try to introduce your children to new vocabulary or reinforce the vocabulary they are already using. Vocabulary categories that are easily targeted during cookie decorating are: colors, shapes and nouns. For example, “Do you want to make the tree, snowman or ornament?” or “What colors did you use on your cookie?”.
- Mix in turn taking: Turn taking is a great social skill to practice at home with siblings or friends. Take turns putting in ingredients, mixing or putting on candies to decorate. Appropriate turn taking can be used by kids when playing games with peers and during conversations.
- Stir in requesting: Have your child exercise his or her expressive language skills by requesting for items. Depending on their skill level a carrier phrase could be used, “I want ______” or the request could be in question form, “Can I have the _______, please?”. Once your child is successful at making simple requests, work towards expanding the utterance, making the request longer, (e.g, “I want the red frosting”).
- Bake for following directions: Baking holiday cookies makes for the perfect set up for your child to practice following directions. First start with simple one step directions, “Put on white frosting”. To continue to improve your child’s receptive language you can advance to first/then directions, “First put on white frosting, then put on green sprinkles”.
- Let it cool with articulation practice: Throughout the whole baking/decorating process, articulation (speech sounds) can also be targeted. As an adult model, you can provide the correct productions for your child emphasizing the target sound. (e.g., What cookie do you like?, Look at my cookie!”). If your child is at the stage in speech therapy where they can practice saying their target sounds, work on using them during the activity. For instance, if you were working on “s” or s-clusters you could practice using the sound to describe what you see “I see a reindeer” or when taking about the steps to baking “Stir in the flour”.
Throughout your cooking baking experience keep in mind that the activity should remain fun, keeping the speech-language practice with in your child’s abilities in order to keep frustration low. Enjoy this recipe for ideas of ways to target speech and language! Happy Holidays!