Cooking and CVI: Three Tips to Use in Your Classroom Today
Cooking is one of my favorite activities to teach. This is because it is such a functional way to work on requesting, waiting, asking for help, following directions, independence, picture matching/identification, sequencing, and more! Honestly, this list could go on and on! My other favorite part about cooking is that EVERY student can participate regardless of ability level. For some students, participation might look like opening the packaging. For other students, participation may look like pouring the food item into the bowl. And for some students, participation might look like choosing ingredients. Like other skills, when teaching children with cortical visual impairment, some considerations need to be taken into account. Below, I share my top three tips for cooking and CVI.
Cooking and CVI: Tip #1- Repetition
As some of us may know, individuals with CVI are more successful when working on activities or with materials that are familiar to them. For this reason, repeating the same recipe over multiple weeks can be exceptionally beneficial. This allows the child to become familiar with the food items being used, the needed materials, the sequence of the recipe, etc. I recommend repeating the same recipe once a week for a month. This gives the child multiple opportunities to become familiar with the materials. It also gives them multiple opportunities to try the food item, in case they didn’t like it or didn’t want to try it the first time. In addition, the vocabulary related to each recipe can be practiced in between cooking activities through adapted books and vocabulary cards.
As many of you know, I LOVE visuals, and students can be so successful with the use of visuals. In cooking, I recommend using the following visuals:
- A visual recipe: having pictures of each step helps to make each step more concrete, but also gives students something to look at directly in front of them
- Food labels: There are so many different types of peanut butter out there! From brand names, to store brands and everything in between, there is a good chance that the brand of peanut butter you buy for cooking lessons isn’t the same type that the student eats at home! To help with this, I like to label the food items with generic pictures of the food items. For one, this can take away most of the distracting information on the label. It can also help students generalize images for use with communication devices, etc. This also is beneficial if food items need to be removed from their original packaging to make access easier for the student. For example, a box of cereal may be difficult to pour from because of the box and the bag. A child may have an easier time opening and pouring the cereal from a plastic container. Regardless of container type, these food labels can be used.
- Vocabulary cards: In many cases, the vocabulary cards are going to use the same images as the recipe and the food labels. This provides consistency for students. These vocabulary cards can also be used for reading comprehension questions, asking opinions, requesting, matching, labeling and so much more!
When completing cooking activities at home or school, it is important to use a child’s familiar items. These items could include their plate, bowl, cup, fork, spoon, placemat, etc. By using familiar items, students are able to focus their energy on learning the information about the recipe. Also, for students that benefit from objects in their preferred colors, this can have an impact on the cooking lesson for the child. In addition, if the student is learning to use a specific fork, we want to give that child as many opportunities to use this fork, including during cooking lessons.
There are countless benefits to completing cooking lessons in your classroom or home on a routine basis. And in order to get you started, I have designed a Year Long Visual Recipe Bundle. This bundle includes 10 recipes, one for each month of the school year. In addition, each recipe contains 5 types of visual recipes, reading comprehension questions, food labels, vocabulary cards, and more! Want to check out this bundle? Click here!