Cooking is such a great way to target sequencing and following directions with a (hopefully) delicious reinforcement at the end. It can also be a way to encourage our kiddos with sensory issues to experiment and possibly tolerate new foods. Unfortunately, cooking in the therapy room isn’t always feasible.
I have several apps that I use frequently to simulate a cooking experience that the kiddos love. Let me share a few of my favorites.
Timbuktu Pizza and Timbuktu Pasta: These are two of my all-time favorite apps. Head into the restaurant and choose what you’ll make from the menu. The only drawback is that the menu is only written and the names are quite Italian so your students (and maybe even you) might not recognize the selections. No matter, just choose one.
Now you’ll find yourself at the counter ready to create. Pull down the recipe to see the ingredients that you need to add to the dish (order does not matter). Follow carefully!
Next, bake it in the oven and get ready to serve it to Eegor who will make his pronouncement.
If you’ve followed the directions, he’ll gobble it up. Missed or added an ingredient and he’ll throw it at you! Needless to say, my students often ask to make a mistake to make Eegor mad. An indulgence I’m happy to grant since it not only shows me they understand what should/shouldn’t be added but gives us additional opportunities to target concepts like “not,” “except,” and talk about appropriate behaviors!
At the end you’ll have an opportunity for a photo opp (in your chef’s hat, of course) with Eegor by either taking a photo on the spot to drop in or with one from your camera roll.
I feel that I need to mention the background music on this one. There is something so sweet, so small Italian trattoria about the mood it sets.
Cupcake Maker: This app has you choose the kind of cupcake you want to create based on pictures which I like, and the ingredients are lined up for you to add (no figuring out what you need). My only complaint here is that the ingredients aren’t always specific to your selection (picky, but I cook a lot). Meaning, if you choose the cupcake that clearly has chocolate chips in it, you won’t actually have to add chips to the batter. In fact, the chocolate cupcakes use flour despite the fact that they mix up chocolate.
Stir your batter and tap to fill the muffin tin. Stick in the over and wait for them to bake. Now take them out and it’s time to get decorating. You can choose from a huge assortment of frosting, icing, candies, etc. The assortment is so huge, it may be a bit overwhelming for some or too distracting for others. Touch to start eating!
Also includes the option to change the kitchen background, includes seasonal options as well as birthday candles. This developer has a number of other food apps like donut, milkshake, ice cream sundae and burrito maker.
Toca Kitchen and Toca Monsters: Choose a character to cook for and you’ll find yourself at the lunch counter looking at an expectant eater and an open refrigerator. Hmmm, what would a bull like to eat? Let’s try a fish.
It flops on to his plate, but if you try to feed him, he won’t eat it. Why? It isn’t cooked. (Note, a fruit like a lemon he would have eaten raw.) Off to the kitchen.
Now you have a decision to make. Will you chop it up and use the grill pan? Boil it? Microwave? Blend into a lovely fish puree?
Whatever you choose, you can now go back and feed him.
One of the other helpful aspects to this app is that there are some inference/reasoning skills involved. The cat, for instance, has no interest in eating hay under any circumstance.
The monster app works similarly except the refrigerator and kitchen are quite messy and not all of the food is recognizable and the monsters will outright refuse some choices like broccoli and tomato.
Both of these apps require some measure of fine motor skill especially to do the feeding and might require some adapting with students limited in this area.
Next month I’ll show you some pretend play and real cooking in my room, but in the meantime tell me your favorite cooking app below (for children OR with recipes for adults!).