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Activity and strategy

Visual Recipes for Non-Readers

These visual recipes have pictures that a non-reader can use to follow in a cooking lesson.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed doing this school year is cooking once a week with one of my students. She is in high school and happens to be in life skills. I’ve collaborated with her speech therapist and OT. Besides her low vision, she has CP which makes some cooking tasks “interesting”…stirring, for instance. However, she loves cooking with me, so she will use her weaker side to help her without any prompting!
Her communication skills make if difficult at times to understand what she is saying…especially when she is excited. Her speech teacher helps by creating images of the ingredients we need to do the cooking activity. 
pictures representing ingredients for a recipe
She has since added more Velcro on the left side, as some of our dishes (like the one pictured for chicken quesadillas) needed more space. When we finish making our grocery list for the images, I take the purple folder to the grocery store to purchase the items needed. 
Her OT has been incredible in her assistance to the team. She has aided me in purchasing equipment to help my student in her cooking needs. She’s given me advice on how to position items so my student will be more successful. 
She is meeting success with the assistance of these two amazing professionals willing to collaborate with me to make it happen! But I still need more. In looking at recipes, they’re mostly in print and can be time consuming to adapt with picture images. Recently, I had this great idea to search and see if there is anything out there to make our lives easier and more productive.
cover of visual recipes cookbookI did a search and found this book: Visual Recipes: A Cookbook for Non-Readers by Tabitha Orth. While this book was written for persons with autism and other developmental disorders, I can easily adapt the pages for my student. There are 35 easy-to-understand recipes broken down into the following categories: breakfast, lunch, side dishes, snacks, desserts, and drinks. The images are in color and each image is surrounded by a border to separate the image from the ones beside it. 
These are basic recipes that range from making oatmeal to grilled cheese to baked chicken. We haven’t started in this book yet, but I can already see the possibilities! I would attach a picture of a recipe, but due to copyright laws, I can’t. 
One would think I’d be happy with one book…but I wasn’t. I kept searching and found this book also: Look ‘n Cook Microwave Cookbook from Attainment. This book has 68 easy-to-make recipes in it. The book is spiral bound and the images are also in color. Each step of the recipe has a picture and then below the picture is the step number and written directions. Again, I can easily copy and enlarge the photos. 
Sample picture recipe for Vegetarian Beans and Rice
I have always enjoyed Attainment’s products and have used many over the years of my teaching career. Here’s a few more things I like about this book:
  • A page of utensils that are needed to for the recipes in this book…a great set of images to create a data collection sheet (haven’t made one yet as I just thought of it!) to document independence level with the tool
  • Each recipe has a corresponding grocery list in the appendix
  • The pages are laminated…easy to wipe clean or use a dry eraser marker to mark off the step in the recipe once completed. (This gave me an idea!)
Sample recipe of Baked Potatoes
On Attainment’s website, there are pictures of inside the book. While on the website, I noticed that have another book with lesson plans in it. A little too pricey to purchase it all for my wallet. 
I then did a search on Attainment’s website for cooking and found this: 
screen shot of website showing the available books
I can already see I will be buying some more cookbooks over the summer! 
Long story short, we may not know of some of the options to make creative lessons possible. We have within our reach lots of options via the internet. We also have within our reach the professionals to help us make those lessons possible through collaboration.
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