Having Fun at Home With Communication – Part 2: In the Kitchen
By Marissa Siegel
Do you have a burgeoning baker on your hands? Turn those interests into communication (and culinary!) discovery. Working on speech and language at home can help your child increase their own understanding and help them feel confident communicating their wants and needs. Cooking allows families to spend time together, developing hobbies and skills, and helps children become responsible participants in daily tasks. Together, communication and kitchen fun are a great mix!
Have fun in the kitchen while boosting communication skills with these ideas:
- Try some new recipes with just a few ingredients: egg and banana pancakes, yogurt and frozen berry smoothies, or a classic like peanut butter on celery. Have your little helper mix the ingredients or name the items as you add them in. Make it a weekly event to get some repetition going. Going over the same steps with the same vocabulary within a routine will boost your child’s understanding.
- Plant your own: talk about the lifecycle of the plants- describe everything you might need for your plants to grow. Plan out what you need and where you will plant your fruits, veggies, and herbs. Pinterest is your friend in this regard. Once the seedlings start growing, talk about the parts of your plants. Talking while showing helps children develop their expanding vocabulary networks.
- Put on the sous chef hat: Have your child practice following simple directions by giving them one helpful task at a time. Children as young as 18 months can practice mixing ingredients in a bowl, putting forks on the table, or handing big sister the spinach. If your child is a bit older, try giving them 2-3 steps at once such as “First, get the spoons and forks from the drawer. Next, lay them at everyone’s places at the table.”
- Discover what you already have in the fridge: Flashcards and sensory bins are #goals, but what about what you already have on hand? Take out some of the fruits and vegetables from the fridge and let your baby or toddler handle them, feeling the bumps and shapes, then smell them and taste them! Discover and describe the fruits and veggies with all of your different senses. When you’re done, wash and chop for your child’s healthy snack.
- Play description treasure hunt! Have your child grab the next ingredient for tonight’s dinner, but make it into a game. Offer clues. Can you find something green and leafy under the bell peppers? Ok, now I need something white that’s wrapped in plastic wrap from the drawer. Keep offering more clues until they find what you need.
- Dress the part for your very own in-home restaurant. Put on the chef’s hat from the dress-up bin, then don the apron with a flourish. Pick out a tablecloth from an old birthday party and make your own menus. You can practice social communication skills such as how to order from a menu, how to get someone’s attention appropriately to ask for what you need, as well as small talk skills over a meal.
- Story time! Did your grandmother teach you how to make the best peach muffins? Share about it, let your child ask questions, and talk about what your favorite foods were growing up. You can add on to this by talking about what’s the same and what’s different about your whole family’s favorite foods.
- Take pictures of your creations so you can talk about them and share not only food, but memories with other family members. Have a go at making your own family recipe book. Bonus points if your budding writer wants to write the descriptions and ingredients list next to each picture!
Try some of these communication-boosting activities in the kitchen. Your children’s communication skills and their bellies will thank you! Creating communication opportunities in the kitchen during daily routines makes supporting speech and language development easy and fun. This is the second part in a three-part series of ways to have a great time at home with communication. Keep an eye out for part III. As always, have fun!