Keeping your Autistic child busy in the kitchen

Children learn best through real experiences and what better place than the kitchen to learn.  I think it is safe to say that 95% of all kitchens have rice, pasta or even flour in one of their cupboard – these can all be sensory based activities.  Add a colander, some cutlery and warm water to the mix and the holiday is guaranteed to be fun.

Here are 10 great holiday activities for all the children to participate in.

  1. Putting a sensory bucket together is easy and when you use all the items you already have in the house it can be practically free. Use a large dish or Tupperware container and add anything from water to pasta or rice into it.  When you put in a few of the child’s favourite figurines it allows for hours of fun.
  2. Bake a cake – this can be a motor planning and math activity.  Get your child to help with the recipe.  They can identify the numbers and count out the measurements.  Make easy labels for the ingredients and let your child learn the “sight words” whilst spending time with you in the kitchen.  Mixing and learning about kitchen dangers can also form part of this lesson.
  3. Decorating biscuits is an activity that few children dislike and it really does not have to cost a fortune. Make sure you have plain biscuits, some icing sugar and sprinkles.  Get the child to make their own designs.  Depending on the level of the child you can get them to first draw a picture of what their biscuit will look like when it is done.
  4. Sorting cutlery Get your child to sort the t-spoons, table spoons, butter knives and forks into the correct place in the cutlery drawer. You can make labels for each compartment and teach them the correct sight words in the process.
  5. Washing up Let your child play with different containers in warm soapy water. Encourage them to pour water from one container to another.  You can also get your child to help wash your plastic containers and teach them drying skills.
  6. Colander and pipe-cleaners are great for fine motor development. Whilst this activity is more suitable to the younger child it can keep them entertained for hours.
  7. Basic cooking or salad making get the children involved in food preparation time. Chop fruit or veggies and depending on the age or development level of your Autistic child you can introduce math.  For example – can you cut half the apple or a quarter of the apple for me?  Once all the fruit or veggies are cut the child can wash them, dry them and divide them into equal bowels.
  8. I spy with my little eye is a game we all grew up with and makes literacy lessons in the kitchen fun and very interactive.
  9. Homemade play dough is cheap, easy to make and really great for developing those finger muscles. Items like old buttons, scraps of wool, toothpicks and noodles will help make play dough time a creative experience.  You can make scented play dough that becomes a sensory experience or you can get the children to colour in their own dough with Koki’s.
  10. Paper plate masks are easy to make and even better when they are based on a story that mom is going to tell them later. Get the children to make their own favourite movie or story character at the kitchen table using rice for hair and beans for eyes?  Food colouring can become their paint.  Get them to use their fingers, get them cutting and sticking and when it is all done make sure to take some photos for them to see how great their new masks are.

For more tips on keeping your busybody busy over the holidays, visit this article category here.



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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.