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Building Life Skills with Classroom Cooking

Special Ed Resource Room

Something new I have started with my students this year is cooking. 

Every Friday, we read a book and then do a cooking activity to go along with the book.   I try to make the book and activity something relating to a recent topic or the theme for the time of year.

For example, this past week we were working on the poem “5 Little Pumpkins sitting on a gate,” so we made a gate with pretzels and peanut butter and then added the pumpkins.  

Cook as Life Skills Instruction

Our cooking activity doesn’t always involve actual “cooking,” but it does involve some sort of activity that involves the so important life skill of cooking.  These activities combine cooking as a life skill along with reading, sequencing, working together, following directions, etc.  

I can also easily tie this activity into IEP goals and the SOLs (VA Standards of Learning). The kids see these activities as fun and have no idea they are actually learning in the process. 

My Classroom Sand Recipe

This past summer for ESY (Extended School Year) we had a Pirate theme.  One of the cooking activities we did was making sand.  It is a lot like dirt, just a different color.
First the kids crush up vanilla wafer cookies. We put the cookies in a plastic bag (freezer bags are great since they are a bit more durable) and have the kids pound on them. Some of the kids hit it with a spatula or spoon. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of this part. My wonderful co-teacher reminded me after this first super-fun stage.

Crushed Cookies

Next, we made vanilla pudding by following the pudding directions on the box.  This involved measuring milk, pouring, stirring and reading directions. .

Then we folded the cookies into the pudding. We also put some pudding on the bottom of the cups we were using for a layered effect.

Finally, we put the mixture into cups and topped with a bit more of the cookies. Each cup then got an umbrella, some chocolate rocks, and a few fish gummies.

The kids loved making and eating this. They also delivered it to various people in the building so they could practice their communication skills.  

Classroom Cooking Resources

There are lots of resources out there to help you in your cooking adventure. I started by submitting a project to Donor’s Choose to get a cooking supply kit which included spoons, knives, pans, a colander,  and tons of other goodies. I also asked for an ice cream maker that can be rolled like a ball and a visual cookbook.   

In addition, I wrote a grant through our local teaching organization to hopefully get some help in buying the supplies and ingredients needed, such as the peanut butter, milk, canned pumpkin etc.  

In my search this summer, I found some fantastic websites that have given me lots of ideas to check out.  Here a just a few:


Do you cook in your class? Share ideas, tips and recipes in the comments section!

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