Food. It brings people together.
We have likes and dislikes, family traditions, memories, holiday experiences, and hobbies all surrounding FOOD.
Food is great theme for its broadness and how it can be easily used through a unit, semester, school year, or calendar year. I will only be scratching the surface of things you can do with food.
As a side note, be sensitive and aware of those that have dietary restrictions, allergies, or are unable to take food by mouth. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t talk about food! But ignoring food issues can be down right dangerous.
Alright! So let’s taco ’bout food!
What’s a holiday without food? You know, if you work in the school system like I do and have high caseloads, you may be somewhat limited on how much you want to purchase. There are a ton of really cute pinterest ideas out there, but I don’t want to prepare melted chocolate for 70 kids. So, I do my best to use items that can be easily multiplied for less.
Christmas and Valentine’s Day – I use these two holidays for cookie decorating.
No not those. Those are beautiful. I’m talking round cookies + one color of icing + sprinkles.
Finding a large vat of icing and sprinkles with the right colors is not difficult. What can be difficult is how quickly an activity like this can be completed. So what can we do? I like to talk a lot about materials, sequencing words, and describing vocabulary before I even get started. We draw pictures of each step and use core vocabulary boards to help with sentence completion. When we finish decorating, I take a picture of the cookies to admire, discuss, or even write about. I also like when the students give me the directions. I do my best to take them VERY literally. It becomes quite hilarious at times.
Halloween – I always use my Pumpkin Patch Pudding activity for the month of October, although, it could be used at any time during the fall. I have learned to use mini cups instead of regular sized plastic cups. It turns out much cuter and it’s just enough to enjoy with out a major sugar high.
*Remember to be sensitive to those that do not celebrate certain holidays.
Winter – If you have a microwave near by, I recommend using hot chocolate in January. Even some of my students that don’t drink hot chocolate like to stir the powder and watch it dissolve. Just be sure that you heat it to a safe temperature.
Summer– Add another drink to the menu! Lemonade is a fun powder to get in two colors and is easy to stretch with a large caseload. If you have a smaller caseload, a single client, or your own children, being adventurous with real lemons is a great hands on activity.
Fall – See Halloween above
Have you seen the little strawberry Santa hats? Or the vegetable straws in a cup decorated as a turkey? What about the apple slices (lips) with marshmallows (teeth) in the middle? These are all things I have done in therapy that don’t break the bank and lean towards a more healthy snack option (minus the marshmallows).
Get this printable here.
I love to pretend play here because plastic food is pretty easy to come by. I use this cut and paste bag activity with actual paper sacks if I have them. We ‘go shopping’ for our food around the speech room. I am currently looking for a used cash register to include in this activity. How cute will that play scenario be??
Other snacks and sweets
Pudding- I usually stick with chocolate, but this a great cheap activity that can come in different flavors. Add some sprinkles at the end just for fun.
Popcorn – I have a hot air popper that I purchased for about $15 several years ago. The kids are memorized every. single. time. Compare and contrast this with microwave popcorn.
Food/Book companions – My current favorite is Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck. Then we follow it up with a graham cracker covered in blue icing and goldfish.
Check out the pudding, popcorn, and graham cracker here.
There are MANY books that include food like these classics:
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (decorate cookies)
How to Eat Fried Worms (crushed up sandwich cookies and gummy worms)
Pancakes for Breakfast (If you can’t make pancakes, use playdough to make different breakfast foods.)
The Very Hungry Catepillar (Bring apple slices)
Try slapping this face on a tissue box and ‘feed’ the character. It’s a classic that kids LOVE.
Break out any play snacks/sweet food and dishes and start serving each other – a classic play time activity. I love including this cut and paste math activity. Most of my students could teach me a thing or two in the math department, so they are usually motivated to make this compute.
Get this printable here.
Restaurants – I have had the awesome opportunity to participate in community based field trips. Some of these field trips have included restaurants (pizza and McDonald’s). We used core vocabulary, social stories, and sequencing strips before. during, and after the trips. I loved attending with the kids and helping them through the steps in real time. It was my favorite type of push-in therapy!
Lunch Bunch – Getting a group of kids together in the speech room during their lunch time can be tough to squeeze into a busy schedule, but worth it. It’s such a great time to really listen to their speech that is not dictated by data keeping or getting a speech activity completed in time. It’s an excellent moment to let them lead the conversation. But it can be more structured if you prefer. I may show the card deck, ‘That’s silly’ and ask ‘why’. Maybe we talk about all the foods on their tray with their sound. Or for social skills I may present different topics we all talk about for at least 3 minutes before moving on.
Yep, just scratching the surface here :)!
Please share! What ideas have you used in therapy? Did this post spark any good ideas? This is my favorite topic and I would love to learn more about addressing food in therapy from all of you out there.