Creative Activities for Strengthening Pre-Cooking Skills

These activities can be used in the classroom to strengthen the skills required for cooking. Practicing cutting skills with plastic knives and working without heat are two ways to ensure that your students can complete recipes safely before advancing to using sharp blades and the stove or oven.

Practicing Cutting Using Play-Doh

Teach your students not to touch the blade and to use another implement to move the items around so that they do not have their fingers close to the blade.

Practicing Straining with Marbles

To work on straining without using boiling water, one activity is to practice straining marbles and water with a colander. 

Practicing with a Cold Oven

You can practice carrying a tray before you use a hot tray from the oven by putting some objects on top of a cookie sheet and having your students walk around the room. Practice having them put the tray in the oven and take it back out.

Practicing Measuring and Matching

It’s more important that students can match the labels on the measuring cups with measurements from the recipe than actually understanding the measurements. They can have a lot more independence, especially with their measuring skills, if they can match. One option is to create flashcards with measurements and work on identifying the word and symbol. You can practice measuring with dry ingredients like macaroni or dried beans. Ask the students to get a quarter cup of macaroni or a half cup of macaroni in the dry measure. They can identify the cup that they need.

Practicing Making Warm Water

Have your students practice making warm water from the faucet by identifying which is hot and which is cold. Teach them the visual cues that faucets have, like H and C or red and blue. They can also practice mixing the water.

Working from Left to Right

Your students will need to be able to work from left to right, which is also helpful for reading skills. You could offer them a visual cue if this is difficult for them by having a green circle to the left followed by an arrow and a red circle to the right. 

Finding Items in the Kitchen

You can have the students go on a treasure hunt to find the items that they’ll need for cooking. They can match them to the pictures on the visual recipes. You can ask the students to find items based on where they should be kept. For example, milk should be kept in the refrigerator and so should eggs. You can ask them to go to the cabinet and locate items that are kept in that area, such as peanut butter and flour.  

By Holly Smith, Occupational Therapist
​Based on this video