It is always a good idea to prepare kiddos for Thanksgiving, or other holiday feasts, by exposing them to the foods that will be served beforehand. If children know what to expect, they will react in a more appropriate manner. We were practicing saying "No, thank you" instead of "Yuck" or "Gross" when offered an unfamiliar dish this week. Since we were already on the topic of foods in therapy, we used some Boardmaker symbols and a picnic blanket to introduce a variety of festive tasks to target language skills. But no fancy food symbols are necessary! Parents can reduplicate these lessons by printing out some pictures of Thanksgiving foods or cutting them out of a magazine. Put the pictures on either a picnic blanket or plate and try some of the activities listed below!
Food Group Sort: (Categorization)
Sort all the foods into their respective groups (i.e. vegetables, protein, desserts) and discuss which group has your favorite and least favorite dishes.
What’s Missing? (Memory)
Select three different foods and point out each one to your child. Have them look at the options for a few seconds so they know what is on the plate. Next, have your kiddo close their eyes while you remove an item. See if they can remember what picture went missing. You can increase the number of foods presented if they need more of a challenge.
Food Following Directions (Receptive Language)
Children could always use practice in following directions. For this game, remember to work on their level. Based on what goals they are working towards, decide what sort of commands you want to give. You can use the foods to practice simple one-step directives or complex multi-step commands. Here are some examples:
One-step: Give me the turkey. Put the cranberry sauce on the plate.
Two-step: First get the turkey, and then get the mashed potatoes.
Describe some foods without naming them and see if your child can find the picture you’re talking about. For example, if you were describing corn, you might say, “Find a yellow vegetable that grows on a cob.” How detailed your descriptions are will depend on your child’s language level.
Appetizing Alphabet (Literacy)
If your child is working on building their phonemic awareness, you can practice listening for specific beginning or ending sounds. (i.e. Find a food that begins with the “t” sound. It sounds like ____." Demonstrate the /t/ sound)