Baking in the kitchen…how baking helps language.



Gregory Loves Pasta!


Baking or cooking in the kitchen with your little one is a great opportunity to work on enhancing language skills…both receptive language (her understanding of language) and in her expressive language (her use of language).  Using the strategies of self talk and parallel talk and silly mama (all found on my teach me to talk page)….are perfect strategies to help your little one use language and understand language better.  But today…I thought I would describe a typical speech and language therapy session…using a baking or cooking activity.

I love all of the little ones I work with…but as many of you know….some of them…and their mamas….are just very dear to me….and we work very hard as a team…the child, the mama and often times the teacher…..and A (to remain anonymous)….she loves baking in the kitchen….so the other day we made butter cookies….no no sugar cookies…..right guys?!….mom had the dough all ready….wrapped in wax paper…all set with the rolling-pin….cookie cutters, flour and the baking sheet.  Now often times when I do a baking language lesson….I will have other items on the counter that we do not need….a banana…maybe a hat, clean sock…..etc.  And I will use these items in a silly way to see if the little one is able to verbally tell me that we do not need the sock to roll out the dough.

So to start off our session the other day….I handed A the wrapped dough…she needed some assistance in opening it…and first we wait…will she ask us for help?……we have been working on this…her ability to spontaneously say: I need help.  And if she has difficulty in formulating the sentence….I prompt her…..first hand over hand we hand the dough to the teacher…she was there for this specific session….we collaborate once a week…which is wonderful…because we work together to help A….our brains often mesh…and we can sometimes finish the other’s sentences…..always trying to maximize our interactions with A… hand over hand I help A to hand the dough to Kristen….and I say: I need___________. Great!….A filled in the blank with the word HELP

Now after the dough is unwrapped….where should we put it….so I act silly and say to A:

Does it go on my head (as I pretend to place it on my head…cool we are working on body parts now too!)

A says: No!

Does it go on my nose?

A says: No!

Does it go on my shirt? (cool we can work on clothing items too!)

A says: No!

Finally I say: Where does it go?……and A looks at the counter…she does not know that word yet maybe….I prompt her and say: On…..she finishes with the……she forgets the words counter so I say: counter.  But we practice this a few times…providing the model…and then eventually she is able to say: On the counter.

Next I show her the sock and the rolling-pin…she is familiar with the rolling pin….I say to her: A what do you need? as I am showing her both the rolling pin and sock…..she says: I need rolling-pin…but I now give her the sock!….she says: No Kim!……Oh you need the rolling pin?!….Yes! (cool now she just answered a yes/no question)

Fun…we have different shaped cookie cutters….I can present her with two…I am not going to just give her one…that is too easy…I want her to verbally make the choice between the circle shaped cookie cutter and the heart-shaped cookie cutter….I show her two and say: A which one do you want?  I prompt her with: I…wa (only the beginning sound of want is what she needs at this point)…and she says: I want heart.  She needs the prompts less…as more spontaneous communication is emerging in order for her to make her needs known. 

I used a butter knife and cut out a triangle and handed it to her…and said: Look A I made a circle.  She said: No! it’s a triangle

We worked on taking turns.

We worked on following directions such as: give the rolling pin to mommy

Now as we are rolling out the dough…I forgot to say….we talked about what we are doing…..rolling the dough….push the dough….push the heart on the doughpick up the heart….put heart on tray.  You see I have not placed any language demands upon her….but I have bombarded her with simple phrases.  Tying action and words together.  When you tie your actions and words together…this will help your little one to understand langauge better and then to use her language.

We started to roll out more dough and I handed her the banana….No she says!….being silly with some of the little ones I see really helps them to respond and connect…to be more related….to make better eye contact…to desire to interact with you.  I love being silly during speech.

We put the flour on the counter before the dough (a very important step-right guys!)…great…we can work on spatial concepts such as the word ON….then we put some flour on top of the dough…….we put sprinkles and chocolate chips ON the cookies……maybe we should have put some chocolate chips UNDER the cookies….I bet A would have picked up the cookie and eaten them!

There is so much language that can be elicited when in the kitchen with your little one.

Easy to do and very natural….embedding the skills into your daily routine.


Have fun!


About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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4 Responses to Baking in the kitchen…how baking helps language.

  1. Jayme says:

    Love this! I’m a SLP and I am always looking for new ideas!

  2. kristen says:

    Great explanation Kim! We baked today too. Following 2 step directions and increasing compliance. Happy Mothers Day!

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