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If you are concerned about your child’s AAC learning losing momentum due to missed therapy sessions, worry not. There’s a lot you can do at home to aid their AAC learning. Kitchen, especially can be a great place to practice AAC conversations with your child. Get them into the kitchen and you’d be surprised to see how much they can help. And there are conversations galore to be had and tons of modelling opportunities. Let’s not forget the yummy meal that makes it way to the table in the process.
Choice Making with a Chef Hat on
Discuss the menu with children. Give them the power to choose what they want to cook with you.
What can we make for dinner today?
Model on their AAC system and encourage the child to come up with suggestions. Remember to wait for a few seconds for their response.
Do you want to help make lasagna, rice, or something else?
Keep the question open-ended. They may just blow your mind with a choice of dish that you didn’t see coming.
What vegetables do you think will go well with the pasta?
Raid the fridge with them so that they can look at the vegetables and make the decision.
This can lead to many interesting conversations. Here are a sample sentences you could say:
- Oh..Zucchini. I love grilled Zucchini salad. Great choice (A little compliment that puts a smile on their face 😊)
- Grandma makes amazing Zucchini fritters. We should make them some day.
- Grandma is a very good cook. You love her pancakes, don’t you?
- This Zucchini is green. Let me get some yellow zucchini. Look, this one is yellow.
- Look, the green zucchini is longer than the yellow zucchini.
See how a simple, unsuspecting zucchini helped you teach your child about different colors, sizes, and a few descriptive words.
Core Words While Cooking
If you’re looking for low tech core boards, you can find them here.
It’s not a family activity unless you keep communicating, right? Once you’ve decided on what to cook, you can model throughout the activity.
- I’m going to turn the stove ON
- We need to add more water.
- The water isn’t hot yet. We need to wait longer.
- I’m going to close the pot.
- Open the fridge.
- Keep the bowl on the counter.
- I’m putting the rice in the pot.
- Get some butter from the fridge.
- Let’s stop stirring.
- Let’s start chopping the vegetables.
For emergent communicators, AAC is often used only for questions or requesting. Here’s a range of communicative functions you can use AAC for while cooking together:
- Question: Can you wash these herbs, please?
- Comment: This pan is too hot.
- Describe: These crisps are yummy
- Instruct: Peel the garlic carefully
- Request information: How many cups of water did you pour?
- Express feelings: This tastes delicious. I’m excited for dad to try this
- Joke: Look. The onion got the cut but I’m the one crying. 🤣 🤣
While you’re getting your hands messy with flour and spices, you may not be able to try out all the above conversations. This is just to give you an idea of the possibilities for AAC right at your home. Do as much or as little as you find feasible while keeping an eye on your little chefs in the kitchen. Just by modelling a few sentences, you’d have supported your child’s AAC learning at home with very little effort.