Helpful Tips

Cooking Skills and How We Do It at Taarana?



Cooking is part of our curriculum. The goal is to equip our students for independent living. There are several skill sets involved in teaching cooking skills; for example, understanding kitchen safety, understanding cooking vocabulary, identifying, and using cooking tools, reading and following a recipe and preparing for and planning a cooking project.[1]Listed below are some benefits of introducing cooking to special needs children:

  • Literacy skills: it develops this skill as students are required to read the recipes and define some cooking vocabulary words, like spatula, side plate, toaster, butter etc.
  • Communication skills: while reading the recipes, students use their communication skills to ask questions or express opinions about food.
  • Math skills: during the hands-on portion of the cooking lesson, students measure and count ingredients. Sometimes, students may have to perform basic addition and subtraction too.
  • Utilises multi-sensory instruction: cooking by its nature appeals to the senses; the act of smelling, feeling and tasting the different types of ingredients and food.
  • Visual and auditory cues: students are required to pay particular attention to the instructions used for cooking,
  • Less food neophobia (food fear): children will have greater acceptance of eating a variety of food.
  • Motor skills: the act of kneading, tossing, pouring, and cutting helps students build their motor skills.
  • Finally, it helps them develop their self-help and social skills.


How is cooking taught to our students?


Step 1: Select a recipe

For example, strawberry jam butter toast recipe.


Step 2: Introduction of the utensils, apparatus, and ingredients

Introduce student to the ingredients and kitchen utensils used for making a strawberry jam butter toast. Show them the bread, butter, strawberry jam, plate, butter knife, kitchen timer, sandwich maker and tongs.


Step 3: Prepare the ingredients and kitchen utensils

 Gather the ingredients and put them out on the counter or tabletop. Then, focus on gathering the equipment and putting them on the counter.


Step 4: Break down the cooking steps by using task analysis

Each task is separated into discrete skills, and students shall learn to complete skills in a specific order to learn new tasks. Students may require visual, physical, or verbal prompts to complete each skill, and prompts may be gradually removed as the individual becomes more independent.


Step 5: Use a visual recipe

A visual recipe uses pictures to walk a student through identifying the ingredients, measuring the ingredients, and the steps involved when cooking with a recipe.  The visual recipe will assist the student in understanding and sequencing the steps in the recipe.[2]


Prompt hierarchy

A prompt hierarchy is a structured and systematic method of assisting students to learn and use new skills. Prompt hierarchies provide each student with greater number of opportunities to communicate. This will help student to manage their level of frustration, anger, and adult dependency. [3]. It also helps to teach the student to achieve the target and provides support to deal with challenging activity or task.[4]

There are two types of prompt hierarchies: Most-To-Least and Least-To-Most [5]

  1. Most to least prompting means you are starting with more invasive prompts so that the student accomplishes the task correctly and fading towards less restrictive prompts.
  2. Least to most prompting means you are starting with the least invasive prompts and moving down the list once you find a prompt that the student can accomplish the task.

The most to least prompt is normally used when we introduce a new skill to the student before it is mastered. Prompts and high level of support are provided to enable students learn and execute the new skill. As the students get confident and comfortable with the new skill, the level of prompt will fade down.

The least to most prompt is generally used when a new skill has already been learned to build fluency and working on mastery, generalisation, and independence. This encourages the student to perform the skill independently. The least intrusive prompt will be given only when needed.


A sample recipe with instructions and sample skills that may be introduced to students of different age groups will be shared in the upcoming write up.


By Noor Irni Hanida
Occupational Therapist


[1] Teaching cooking to special needs children available at