Cooking with your child, tips from an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapy adapts well to a natural environment. Many of our activities sneak in therapeutic work into fun and functional projects. Parents can help their children by making time at home to work on some of the same developmental skills.

The kitchen is a great place to experience the world. It’s not only rich in sensory input but it offers many opportunities to work on motor skills and problem solving skills as well. Here are some fun activities you can do at at home with your child and some muffin batter:

*  Mix the Batter:  This sounds simple but it becomes a different experience when you have your child use first his/her dominant hand to hold the spoon, then his or her non-dominant hand, and then both hands. Have him or her try to figure out how he could mix the batter by rotating the bowl instead of using a spoon. Then have him or her mix the batter by shaking it in a jar or plastic container. There are so many possibilities, your child can help you come up with other unusual ways to mix the batter.

What is he/she working on?  Increasing brain wiring and motor fluency, bilateral upper body movement, grading of movement, wrist rotation, problem solving skills, and following directions.

*  Pour the Batter:  Give your child a 1/4 cup measurer. Have him or her pour the batter into each pre-oiled muffin cup.

What is he/she working on?  Visual motor coordination, grading of movement, wrist rotation, visual texture tolerance (some kids have an aversion to wet textures)

*  Blow Bubbles in the Batter:  Use plain batter for this activity. Make sure your child can follow directions, especially if the batter contains raw eggs. He/She should be able to blow without sucking through the straw. Just to be safe you can use a vegan recipe or no egg recipe. Add a little bit of extra liquid to make it easier or use less liquid to make it harder. It should be “a just right challenge” for your child. He/She should feel like it’s fun, not frustrating. Pour a little bit of batter in a large cup or a bowl. Get a few large straws and have a bubble blowing contest with your little one. You can also play his/her favorite song and every time he/she hears a certain word in the song he/she has to blow a big bubble.

What is he/she working on?  Oral motor skills, following directions, auditory-motor skills (being able to connect a sound or word recognition with movement)

*  Turkey Baster Batter:  This is an usual way to fill your muffin tins. Have your child use a turkey baster to fill each muffin cup with the batter (this will only work with plain batter, no chocolate chips or blueberries). If necessary, add a little bit of extra liquid to make it easier. Teach him or her to hold the pinch on the bulb until the baster is over the right cup and then release. Work on counting cups, he/she has to get the batter to whatever number you call out. Play a game of right, left, down, up by directing him to your chosen cup. This works nicely for a child who is just starting to recognize his left from right. If you want to adapt it for a child who is still learning, put a sticker on his or her right hand, this way he will get to practice this skill without frustration. Offer as much assistance as needed to keep the activity fun for your child.

What is he/she working on?

  • Hand strength
  • Motor coordination
  • Eye-hand co-ordination
  • Following directions Math concepts
  • Spatial recognition
  • Left-right differentiation

We hope you enjoy trying some of those activities with your children. CDI therapists can provide you with developmentally appropriate activities that can easily be adapted in the home.

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