Cooking Up Language

Guest Authored By Kirsten K, M.S., CCC-SLP

Blue Bird Day and family cooking image

Whether you consider yourself a gourmet chef or have mastered the art of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some form of cooking is a part of everyday life. Cooking can feel like a burden at times and seem too time-consuming, but getting your child involved can provide endless opportunities to promote language (and give you an extra set of hands)!

Areas to Target:

  • Vocabulary: Have your child help you collect all of the necessary items for your recipe. Label the different appliances, kitchen utensils, and ingredients. Describe everything! Talk about all of the different colors and sizes of the items you are using. Narrate your actions and your child’s actions as you cut, open, pour, stir, roll, etc. Carry this over during clean up while you talk about the things you wash and dry.
  • Following Directions: Incorporating cooking is a fun way to help encourage your child to follow directions. These can be as simple as “give me ___” or “stir it”. There are also resources online that provide simple visual recipes you can print if there are dishes that tend to be on the menu frequently at your house.
  • Answering wh- questions: There are so many opportunities to promote conversation with these types of questions: “What are we making?”, “Who should stir now?”, “Where is the milk?”.
  • Feature/function/class (FFC): These allow us to describe and understand objects further than just their label. For example, a banana is yellow (feature), is for eating (function), and is a fruit (class). When your table is filled with different ingredients and utensils, see if your child can identify an item based on FFC: “What do you see that is red?”, “What do we use to cut?”, “Can you find a fruit?”.
  • More advanced:
    • Include time concepts (first, then, before, after) when giving directions.
    • Move towards some higher-level questions as appropriate: “When do we eat dinner?”, “Why do we need to wear oven mitts?”, “How will we know when it is ready?”
    • Compare and contrast items: wet vs. dry, hot vs. cold, hard vs. soft, sweet vs. salty, big vs. small
    • Make predictions: “What will happen next?”, “What will it taste like?”, “What color will it be?”
    • Comprehension check when you’re finished: “What did we use to stir?”, “What did we add that was wet?”, “What vegetable did you cut?”
    • Practice sequencing the steps: “What did we do first, second, last?”