I really enjoy incorporating hands on activities: crafts, experiments, gross motor games and cooking in my therapy sessions. I use these activities with early Elementary clients up to Middle school depending on their goals. In the past, I struggled with keeping my eye on the big picture (therapy goals) vs. getting stuck in the process-(making the activity.) The activity is secondary to the concepts or lessons I'm trying to teach within the therapy session. Today I'm going to write about how I would incorporate a chip making activity into a therapy session with a variety of different clients. I love salty snacks AND cooking gadgets. So when I found this microwave chip cooker I was intrigued. The claim was that you slice potatoes, apples, sweet potatoes or beets into thin slices and then cook on the "plate" until they are crispy. I do feeding therapy as well as traditional speech therapy so the chip cooker seemed like a great way to expand some of my clients diets using familiar foods. The first thing I do once I've decided on an activity is decide who will be participating and what goals they are working on. Then I review the steps of the activity and decide what goals I can incorporate within the activity.
I take pictures of each of the steps and after the activity we work on sequencing the pictures and paraphrasing the directions. I try to send home a black and white copy of the directions so they can explain what they made in therapy to their parents or siblings.
Having the sequencing pictures helps me pick out the vocabulary I'm targeting. For this activity I targeted action verbs:
Slice, place, sprinkle, put, cook, and eat.
Because each potato gives a lot of slices we had a lot of practice. In a group setting I might try setting up a routine where the first student does the first action and then explains what to do to the next student. Example:
Student A tells student B: You need to slice the potato thinly with the mandoline slicer. In theory, then the student could complete this action-but I didn't let anyone try the mandoline slicer.
Student B then tells Student C: You need to slice the potato thinly with the mandoline slicer. We would continue on in this fashion.
I decided to focus on thick vs. thin. We talked about why thick potato slices took longer to cook than thin slices. You could also focus on attributes: hot/cold, wet/dry, or salty/plain.
I have several clients who use AAC devices to communicate. I decided to focus on 3 different utterances during this activity:
I modeled this several times within the activity and then prompted my clients to request or comment within the activity using the selected vocabulary.
This activity lends itself well to CH words: chips, chomp, chew, choose, Pinch (of salt), (make a Batch)
Many of my articulation clients can earn these types of activities by returning their homework. Then I intersperse each step with drill activities.
I might forget to get salt or certain supplies for my clients to see if they can request the correct materials. I drop a few chips on the floor to see if they can explain the problem and give me some solutions. Putting it back on the tray is a solution-but I try to work on what might be the BEST solution to the problem. I asked questions about why we wouldn't put too much salt on the chips and whether we could put the plastic holder in the oven to cook the potato chips.
Social language Skills:
These activities are usually a good time to work on politeness markers as well as general conversation.
I hope this post gave you some ideas of how you can incorporate activities within your therapy sessions. Thanks again to Jess for allowing me to guest post on her blog. I hope you feel better soon!