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Creating a Cooking Portfolio

Get ideas to create a portfolio for students with low vision and multiple disabilities to demonstrate what they are able to do, with cooking or other independent living skills.

Chef CheyenneOne of my students has been working with me for two and a half years on becoming more independent in cooking, learning new recipes, and learning to use new appliances and cooking implements. This year she is a senior, so at her annual IEP meeting we made a few changes to her goals. We continued with two cooking goals (using new appliances, and cooking more involved recipes), and added one for her to create an electronic document to write about her experiences. Once the goals were accepted by the IEP committee, I met with the student’s speech therapist and her COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) who works on her assistive technology goals. 

Creating a Cooking Portfolio

I wanted to support her to create a book as a keepsake for her time with me. Cooking has been a preferred activity for her and her skills have come so far since we started.   She is an amazing young woman who is positive, athletic (participates in Special Olympics year round), and cheers on her peers. She also has Cerebral Palsy (the right side of her body is weakened), communication disorder (she has an augmentative communication device to supplement her spoken language), cognitive concerns and low vision. But first and foremost, she is a young lady who enjoys her independence and becoming more independent. 

I met with the Speech Therapist and the COTA and together we came up with the idea of a book that is a review of what she is able to do. In the document “Project” we laid out an action plan. Each step was a chapter. I take lots of photos of my students as they work, and those are always important to include.  This book was an end-of-the-year summary given as a surprise to her family.   In addition to it being a special keepsake, it is a way to help her show her family and others what she is able to do in the kitchen.

Cooking final

Her Speech Therapist, COTA and I worked on the book during our individual sessions with her, at least once a month.   The student chose which of the pictures she wanted to use of the ones I had taken of her. She used her communication device to aid her in creating sentences for the book. Over a seven month period, she created a 68-page book! 

Fridge page

Sample Recipes

We compiled some of her favorite recipes of items she knows how to make.  We used photos and print of each step, so that she will be able to complete the process as independently as possible.  This will also help family members and others to know the procedure that she is used to following.  English Muffin Pizzas are easy to make and are one of her favorite dishes.

English Muffin Pizza recipe


Final Exam

Her final this year was a two-parter for me. One she took a “paper test”. This consisted of her using the kitchen flash cards. Three images were placed on the table: stove, microwave, and a no symbol. She then took the rest of the images and put them under the correct picture indicating which items could be used on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave. If the image could not be used in either, then it was put under the NO picture. She scored 100% on this test.

Images to sort included silverware, a saucepan, napkins, a sink, a frying pan, tea kettle, plate, cup & saucer, bowl, a drinking glass.  Download flashcards.

Stove, microwave,

Lunch Preparation

The second part of the test was to make lunch for her parents and two of her teachers.   She chose to grill bacon cheeseburgers and make french fries in the oven. She ordered the groceries online that she needed for me to pick up. She asked me to slice the onions and tomatoes, as this is something that she has not yet mastered.   On the day of the cooking portion of her final exam, she was quite excited, as her grandmother joined us!  Her family was amazed as she successfully grilled the hamburgers using a smaller set of tongs with a rubber grip and rubber tips. While she grilled, I talked with the family about the different appliances and cooking implements that she’s used this year, her confidence in using the new appliances, and how she has grown in her cooking skills over the years. Her family and teachers enjoyed the lunch as they chatted away with proud smiles. While she was quiet as she ate, her face was all smiles. She also was given 100% on this part of her final not only by me, but by her family and teachers as well!


Moving to the 18+ Program

Needless to say, she mastered all her goals from me! As she will be going into our 18+ program next year, I will continue to do cooking goals with her. This time with a twist:  we will be cooking in her kitchen in her home! Here she will be able to learn where everything is, practice with items that she will be using, and be able to show her family her level of independence in this area. She will be cooking for her family. 

I like to do “finals” at the end of the year. I also love to include families whenever possible. This was a nice way to wrap up her year and put her in the spotlight with her family. Her book was delivered during her graduation party. 

Collage of Creating a Cooking Portfolio

Uno braille playing cards with large print
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Student making orange juice with a teacher using a juicing machine.
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