Tag Archives: developmental delays

RECIPE FOR LANGUAGE – Incorporating Language Into Cooking for Developmentally Delayed Children

by Sarah Dubrow

Recipe Steps

  1. Pick a simple recipe (Or add miscellaneous ingredients into a bowl)
  2. If possible, have toys that resemble the cooking supplies
    • Or give your child safe real materials
  3. Decide what words or phrases you would like to target with your child
  4. Use the provided strategies throughout your cooking session to elicit communication from your child.

Techniques to Increase Language Use

  • Modeling – Hold objects close your mouth and say the target word. Having them make eye contact with you will draw their attention to you and help with imitation
  • Descriptive Play – Describe what your child is doing as they are doing it . For example, you might say: “You are putting the flour in the bowl”
  • “More” – Give your child only 1-2 pieces of something or give them less of what they need. This will encourage them to ask for more
  • Repetition – When your child wants a certain item (or you are giving them an item) model the word 2-3 times before proceeding. After you model the word 3 times, give them what they want

Ingredients” (Useful Words)

  • Adjectives: Big, Small, Cold, Hot
  • Prepositions: In, On, Under, Behind
  • Nouns: Mommy/Daddy, Spoon, Bowl, Cup, Food, Drink, Mouth, Fingers, Hands, Belly/ Tummy
  • Social Words: More, Please, Thank you, All Done, Help
  • Verbs: Want, Drink, Eat, Clean Up, Mix, Stir, Shake, Pour, Dump
Common First Words Adapted from: The Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scale (2006)

Other Language Rich Situations

In addition to cooking, use other daily activities to enhance language development.

  • Going Shopping: Line up empty boxes or toy foods and have your child “go shopping” for foods they want or enjoy
  • Singing: Incorporate familiar songs or sound effects into your cooking routine. For example, using “Clean up” song when the activity is finished
  • Daily Routines: If a cooking session is too complex or time consuming, the provided techniques can be incorporated into other daily activities such as snack time, brushing teeth, dressing etc.

Other Helpful Online Resources:





Meet Olivia


Olivia is a beautiful 2-year-old little girl. When she was 6-months-old, her parents noticed something was happening while she was sleeping. Multiple tests indicated everything was fine. However, they followed their instincts and persisted in figuring out what was happening. It was finally determined that Olivia has focal epilepsy, which has caused some developmental delays. After a strong recommendation from her pediatrician, she began receiving home-based services from Easter Seals. Since then, Olivia is beginning to babble, if you listen carefully, you can hear “mom” and “dad” sometimes! She can now sit up and get on all fours. Olivia recently got a walker and is learning to use it…when she decides she wants to. She is a beautiful combination of an old soul with just the right amount of sass! She loves to be the center of attention, and when she isn’t, this inquisitive girl is soaking up everything around her. Olivia loves to check herself out in the mirror and we can understand why. Her gorgeous eyes are captivating and her fun personality is contagious!

Olivia is an Honorary Ambassador for Walk With Me this year. Come meet her and the other Ambassadors on June 4th at the Philadelphia Zoo. Click here to learn more or register for the Walk.