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Language and Communication Develop language skills through cookery  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To develop a range of conceptual and sequential language through cookery activities.

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Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths
P-scales/Curriculum level:P4-P8
TAP skill:not specified
TAP level:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:Maths
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:Standard 1-6
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Deciding on the ingredients



Optional - picture symbols for food items you need;

An idea for what you are going to make.

  1. Say to the children what you are going to make - e.g. pizza. Ask them to say what you would need to make a pizza;
  2. Write their ideas down, and discuss them - to support those who may have difficulties reading the words, do a rough sketch of each ingredient, or use picture symbols;
  3. Decide which ones you need to go to the shop for, and use these to make a shopping list.

See comments for variations on doing this.

Making it easier:

Have a set of pictures of ingredients which are appropriate for what you are making, and some other ingredients. Get the children to choose the appropriate ingredients.

Even easier:

Have a set of pictures for the ingredients, and some further pictures which aren't food (e.g. pictures of furniture, clothes). Help the child to choose those which are food items.


Get the children to draw and/or write down the ingredients themselves.

Buying ingredients
  • Shopping list that you made in the "buying the ingredients" activity;
  • Money;
  • Bag.
  1. Get the children to look at the shopping list that you made;
  2. Help them to work out what you need to take - e.g. bag, money, shopping list.

At the shop

  1. Assist the children (only as necessary) to find the ingredients on their shopping list;
  2. At the till: the children could each purchase their items separately - and - with assistance as required - give the checkout person the money.

On subsequent occasions, you can pretend that you have a really bad memory, and you need the children to help you to remember what to take. If they don't remember everything, you can look a bit confused, and say something like "I'm sure we need to take something else...".

You could also use ideas based on the comments in "Deciding on the ingredients".

Making the item
  • Ingredients;
  • Cooking implements;
  • Aprons;
  • Paper/pencils or pictures for each step of the cooking process (e.g. - get out the pizza base; spread on the pasta sauce; put on the toppings; put in the oven; take out of oven; eat it).

Sequencing the cooking can:

  • Get the children to sequence a set of pictures for the cooking activity before you start;
  • As you go through the process, get the children to select a picture which corresponds to the stage in the sequence (e.g. spreading the pasta sauce);
  • As you go through the process, sketch a very simple picture of what you are doing (perhaps with a word or two written underneath) - you can use these sketches again when you next do the activity;

At each step, get the children to indicate what they need to do - using the sequence pictures to help. Or, give the children instructions (limit the length of your sentences as appropriate, use signs as necessary). "Sabotage" can work well here - e.g. tell the child to stir the mixture, but don't give them anything to stir it with (to encourage them to ask for help/for the spoon).

If the children are familiar with cooking this item, but they sequenced the pictures for doing the activity incorrectly at the beginning, you don't necessarily have to correct them straight away - you can correct it at the point when it becomes a problem - e.g. if you get to the putting the pizza in the oven bit before you've put the sauce and toppings on (look very confused!).

Sketches for the sequence - these do not need to be accurate at all - they will be useful for this activity no matter what level of drawing ability you have. The children can also help with this.

You can incorporate a number of maths concepts into the activities, for example: "full", "empty", "more", "less", "hot", "cold".

Safety. Clearly you will need to manage any dangerous aspects of the cooking process as appropriate for the children you are working with (e.g. use of knives, the cooker).

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