Shirley Temple Popsicles Recipe

Shirley Temple popsicle

Today’s Shirley Temple popsicle recipe is a cool treat for summer, but also a great way to get kids busy in the kitchen cooking and developing skills. We’ve shared a ton of cooking with kids recipes, and this 7up popsicle recipe is even better because its an alerting sensory food that can be a great sensory tool for this time of year.

Shirley temple popsicles are a sensory food. Use lemon lime popsicle treats to wake up the mouth!

Shirley Temple Recipe

  I wanted to share a sweet treat with you  today that my kids ( and the neighborhood kids) love. Who doesn’t love Shirley Temples? These are in popsicle form and are oh so good. I hope you enjoy!   

When I was a little girl, there was a seafood restaurant in the town we lived in called Neptune’s Galley. I have no idea if that restaurant is still in business or not, but I remember it vividly. There was a huge statue of Neptune on the roof of the building and it was dark and nautical on the inside. I have to admit, I do not remember the food that was served there.

I remember first being introduced to Shirley Temple’s!

At the time, my favorite movie just happened to be Shirley Temple in The Little Princess. And my daddy knew that and ordered me a Shirley Temple to drink…and the rest is history.

I think I requested that drink at every restaurant  we ate in for the next five years after that!

In case you didn’t know, a Shirley temple drink is a kids’ drink that has 7up, Sprite, or other cool and refreshing fizzy drink. You add a touch of cherry, and maybe another fruit juice, and you’ve got yourself a kid-friendly drink that is a huge hit.

Therapy Benefits to Make these Popsicles

Not only are these popsicles a fun treat, there are also benefits to getting kids involved in the actual preparation process.

Pour and Scooping Activity- The best thing about making a Shirley temple drink with kids is that it’s an easy recipe. There are only a few ingredients, but children can pour and scoop the food items, working on so many fine motor skills. By pouring and scooping the ingredients, you address bilateral coordination, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, strength, graded motor control, motor planning, and much more.

Fine Motor Skills- We’ve covered the benefits of fine motor development during cooking in the past, and this is a great starter recipe to try with kids…they get a huge reward in the end- a refreshing Shirly Temple popsicle!

Executive Functioning Skills– Another benefit to making this Shirley Temple recipe is to add executive functioning skills while following the directions to prepare the recipe.

Shirley temple popsicle on a plate

Shirley Temple Popsicles Recipe

Cold, bubbly Sprite, grenadine and a cherry on top. Oh, how I loved getting that pink-tinted drink brought to me. I felt so grown up!

Flash forward 20 years. My boys and I were at Red Robin and I introduced them to Red Robin’s Shirley Temples.

Ummm, they were not impressed. I guess it is a girl thing. They ended up with root beer floats. But I was determined to get them to like them!

So last week I set out to make Shirley Temple Popsicles.

At first I tried with just Sprite and maraschino juice. Eh. Then I added cherries to the mix. Still not right. So, after a few trial and errors, I added fresh orange juice, sprite, cherries and cherry juice. Perfect. And the boys ate them all.

So here is to nostalgia. And Shirley Temple!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Sprite or 7-Up soda
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice ( it took about 3 medium oranges to get the juice I needed)
  • Grenadine (I find this in the aisle with the margarita mix, etc)
  • Maraschino cherries

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing cup, combine the soda and the orange juice. Set aside.
  2. Fill popsicle molds with maraschino cherries. (Mine were smaller molds, so I used 3 cherries in each mold.)
  3. Add about a teaspoon of grenadine to each mold. (You could use the cherry juice in the bottle of cherries, if there is enough, in place of the grenadine)
  4. Add the soda and orange juice mixture to each mold, about 2/3 full. Don’t fill to the to the top of the molds. It will expand after freezing.
  5. Place tops on popsicle molds and freeze.

Sensory Food

This popsicle recipe is a great sensory food, because of the alerting factor the cool ice pop offers to the mouth. We talked a lot about the benefits of sucking and alerting or calming properties of cool and warmth on this website in the past.

In fact, our post on using a sports bottle as a self-regulation tool shares information on the sensory receptors in the mouth and jaw. It is these receptors that register the cool, alerting temperature of a popsicle.

The cold temperature alerts, or “wakes up” the mouth. This can be a great sensory strategy to use for achieving attention or focus. It can help to regulate a child’s sensory needs when they are feeling lethargic or overly run-down.

Not to mention that during the hot summer months, a cold popsicle is the perfect treat!

However, there’s more to it than that. Sucking on a popsicle engages proprioceptive input through the muscles and joints in the mouth and jaw. Essentially, the popsicle is a strategy to offer heavy work through the mouth. So, a popsicle can actually be calming, too. It really depends on the child as well as the situation.

Think about a hot and humid summer day. A popsicle and a moment of chill-out time can help a child to calm down, re-group, and regulate their senses.

As an added benefit, a popsicle can be a great tool to use in oral motor exercises.

Lemon Lime Popsicle

Important to note about this recipe is that you can use Sprite or other pop or soda that contains lemon lime flavoring as one of the main ingredients.

The lemon-lime flavor is very alerting, as they are citrus foods. This flavoring in the popsicle “wakes up” and alerts the taste buds and acts as sensory input.

One tip: If you are concerned with the sugar intake, or want to find a lower sugar version, consider using low calorie lemon lime drink or 7-UP ten as an alternative to the lemon lime popsicle treat.

So? What do you think? Let us know if you make Shirley Temple popsicles and use them to develop skills!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Flower Snacks

flower snacks

These flower snacks are fun and super easy to create with kids and build fine motor skills in the kitchen. If you are looking for creating ways to add healthy snacks into a child’s diet, these flower themed snacks are just that. Whether kids help in the kitchen for fun or for the benefits of building executive functioning skills or fine motor development, there are many reasons to make these flower healthy treats! This is just one of the many cooking with kids recipes here on the website.

Add these cooking with kids activities to your Spring occupational therapy toolbox.

Flower snacks that are healthy snacks for kids

Flower Snacks

The flower snacks you see below are creative ways to add fun healthy foods for kids. But, even better, kids can help to make these treats. When kids make these snacks, they are building many skills.

Getting kids involved in the kitchen helps to develop fine motor skills like eye-hand coordination, dexterity, and motor planning. All of these skills are refined through dicing, chopping, scooping, and pouring.

Cooking with kids also is a powerhouse task for developing executive functioning skills. Following recipes, direction following, impulse control, planning, prioritization, and working memory are all skills that are developed through meal preparation and recipe following.

Here are more cooking with kids recipes to get kids active in the kitchen to develop skills.

 
 
 
Flower snacks for cute healthy foods for kids
 

Let’s get started with those flower snacks…
 

6 healthy flower snacks:

Beet slices flower snack– Use a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut beet slices (or other soft fruit/veggies: pineapple, apples, thin potatoes…
 
Mandarin orange flower– Peel an orange and open one end.  Add celery for a stem.
 
Orange with flair–  Add a grape tomato to the center of your orange to add a little color.  Other fruits could also be arranged into a flower shape: apple, pear, and banana slices would work.
 
Dried cranberry mini flowers– Arrange cranberries (or raisins) into petal shapes.  Add chickpeas for a center to each flower.
 
Tulip cucumbers– Cut a jagged line into cucumber slices.  Add a piece of the peel for stems for each flower.
 
Flower art–  Get the kids involved in this one!  Provide carrots, broccoli, red peppers, grape tomatoes and create a flower design as a family.  Enjoy!

Cute flower snack ideas for kids!  Kids can help make these flower themed healthy treats.

Make today special with a little bit of healthy flower fun!  While you’re at it, make a few flower crafts: 

Spring Fine Motor Kit

Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
  • Lacing cards
  • Sensory bin cards
  • Hole punch activities
  • Pencil control worksheets
  • Play dough mats
  • Write the Room cards
  • Modified paper
  • Sticker activities
  • MUCH MORE

Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

Spring Fine Motor Kit
Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Color Snack Kids Can Make

Color snack

Preschool color activities like this Bear Sees Colors Activity makes learning colors in preschool fun…and paring a fun color snack with a book makes the concepts really stick for kids. After reading the book, make this color snack with the kiddos to develop motor skills. Then, go on a color search as a fun way to teach colors but also promote visual discrimination skills, helping them to identify visual differences that necessary skills for reading and writing. Add this colorful snack idea to our activities to teach colors to kids.

This Bear Sees Colors activity is part of a series of blog posts where we explored preschool books and came up with hands-on, multisensory activities to extend the book.

Kids can make this color snack and develop skills, and learn colors with a Bear Sees Colors activity.

Bear Sees Colors Activity

We made a creative and healthy snack based on the book and all of it’s colors.  Preschool kids (and older kids!) will love to seek and hunt for colors with these ice cream cone color scopes, then use the cones as an edible snack container. This is such a great activity for a preschool playdate.  Simply set out a plate of healthy snacks and the color scopes while the book is being read.    

Make a color snack with kids and go on a color hunt to teach colors to kids.

  This post contains affiliate links.


Color Snack Idea

This color snack is easy to make with kids, or to set up a healthy, colorful snack for the whole family.

When we read Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and loved it’s rhyming story and fun illustrations. We are HUGE fans of the other Bear books, (Bear Snores On is one of our absolute favorites!) so reading Bear Sees Colors was fun for us.  We thought it would be fun to go on a color hunt with our snack using an ice cream cone telescope and seek out colors like Bear does in the book.  

This color snack requires one main ingredient, and then a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Simply fill up a cake ice cream cone with healthy treats: fruits, nuts, and veggies for a different snack that will get the kids to smile.  

Kids can get involved with the fruits and veggies prep. Allowing kids to help in the kitchen is a powerful way to help children develop fine motor skills.

We used the same idea for our Color Scopes based on the book, Bear Sees Colors and made the cake cones into color telescopes.  

For more ways to add color hunts to teaching colors, add the “Write the Room” cards from the Colors Handwriting Kit. Kids can scan the room for the color cards and then write the color names onto their paper, working on visual discrimination, visual scanning, and color identification.


Make a Color Scope Using a Cake Ice Cream Cone:

Use ice cream cones in a color hunt with kids and in a colorful snack.

 

It is so easy to make an ice cream cone snack for kids. To make the color snack telescope, grab a few cake ice cream cones.  

Using a sharp knife (this is a job for an adult.) Slice off the end of the cone.  I wanted the grid-like bottom of the cone to stay intact for our color scopes, for a couple of reasons:  First, it was difficult to try to cut out the grid.  Second, I wanted the kids to be able to put fruit and veggies from our snack into the cones and the grid held the treats in.  Third, if the grid was removed from the cone, the cone would probably squash when handled by little curious hands, resulting in crushed cone snack.  That would be an equally tasty and fun treat, I’m sure, but ineffective when it comes to hunting for colors in your snack 😉  


Colors Snack Idea

Make a color snack with kids for healthy snack ideas for preschool

 

In the book, Bear goes hunting with a few friends and sees all sorts of wonderful colors in the world around him.  Bear Sees Colors doesn’t hit all of the colors of the rainbow, but we decided to make our snack include a bunch of tasty berries, nuts, vegetables, and of course, Teddy Graham Crackers.  

The nice thing about this snack idea, is that you can use whatever you’ve got in your pantry and fridge.  Pull out a plate and load it up with anything colorful.  

Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

 

We read through the book again as we ate our snack, and when Bear saw a color, I had the kids look through their color scopes to seek and find the color on the plate. 

Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

 

I had them hunt for more colors, too. I called out a color and they had to search for it using their color scope.  They got a big kick out of this activity!

Color snack with colorful fruits and vegetables in an ice cream cone

 

We then filled up our cones with healthy treats and had a colorful snack!

Color snack for kids

 

This snack idea was fun for all of my kids, but would be great for preschool kids, especially as they identify colors.  How can you think of using our ice cream scopes?  

Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

 See what the other bloggers on the Book Club Play Dates team have made for the book,  Bear Sees Colors:   Rainbow Sensory Activities from Fun-a-Day Colors Busy Bag from Craftulate Colorful Pre-Writing Activity from Still Playing School  

More color snack ideas for you may love: 

Rainbow Snacks

Valentine’s Day Snack Mix

hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Love exploring books with hands-on play?  

Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.    

GET THE E-BOOK

Get the PRINT BOOK

 
 
 
 

Penguin Snacks

penguin snacks for a penguin theme

We’ve been on a penguins activities kick around here lately.  These penguin snacks are cute little homemade penguin crackers that can easily be added to a penguin preschool theme. The bonus to kids making these are the many benefits of cooking with kids in developing fine motor skills, executive functioning, and other learning opportunities.

Be sure to check out the other penguin activities here on the website, and then add these penguin snacks to your line-up for building motor skills in kids. You’ll love the penguin yoga, the penguin themed social emotional skills game, and the penguin deep breathing exercise.

Penguin snacks for kids to make to help build fine motor skills

Penguin Snacks

These Penguin snacks were just the thing we needed one day when the temps were sooooo cold outside that we felt like penguins at preschool pick-up!  Our penguin snacks were the perfect ending to a frigidly cold day.  And, slightly owl-like, I think they would make a great owl treat too 😉  

Penguin Themed Snacks

This post contains affiliate links. 

Start with a little melted milk chocolate (I just used a chocolate bar broken up into pieces) and melted white candy melts, in two separate bowls. 

Dip round crackers 3/4 of the way in the melted white chocolate.  Let this harden in the fridge.  Or just put it outside on the porch like I did in the single-digit temps.  The chocolate will harden in a flash!

You’ll need to make sure the white chocolate is hardened before you dip the crackers again in the ilk chocolate.  Otherwise, you’ll get a mix of the two chocolates.  Once the white chocolate is hardened, dip each side and the very top of the penguins in milk chocolate. 

Pour out a handful of sprinkles and admire their prettiness.  Pull out a few of the orange ones.  You’ll need them for the Penguin’s feet and beaks. This is a great fine motor activity for kids.

I found these candy eyeballs on clearance after Halloween and knew they would come in handy. Stick the orange sprinkles and candy eyes onto the penguins with a bit of the left over melted chocolate. 

Cooking with preschoolers involves a lot of the prep-work, and this is one cooking task that is great for young children. They can sort and count the number of items needed for the recipe. It’s an easy way to add fine motor work as well.

Cute penguin snacks that kids can make for a penguin theme in preschool or older grades.

Pulling out the correct amount of orange sprinkles and eyes was a great job for Big Sister and Little Guy.  They made sure we had enough for each penguin.  And only snuck a few. 😉

Your penguins/owls are done!

For more penguin theme activities, (and fine motor work), grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including penguin themes. There are sensory bin materials, crafts, and activities designed to boost fine motor skills. These would be great additions to a penguin theme in therapy sessions.

winter fine motor kit

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

 

 

 
 

Thanksgiving treat for kids

Thanksgiving treats for kids can include turkey pretzel rod snacks, a thanksgiving dessert made by kids!

This pretzel rod snack is one of those Thanksgiving treats kids will love. By getting kids active in cooking, children can develop so many skills. So, why not combine the excitement of Thanksgiving cooking with the task of helping kids develop motor skills. These turkey pretzel rod snacks are kid-created and will be a Thanksgiving dessert kids will love this year!

Thanksgiving treats for kids can include turkey pretzel rod snacks, a thanksgiving dessert made by kids!

We made these turkey pretzel rod treats with the kids one afternoon as a cooking with kids project to get us in the Thanksgiving mood. Thanksgiving treats kids make get the whole family involved in the cooking process, and make holiday cooking fun. An easy turkey themed snack like these turkey pretzel rod snacks are a thanksgiving dessert made by kids that also help them build fine motor skills, executive functioning, and other essential skills.

Here is more information on how cooking helps kids develop fine motor skills.

Here is a blog post describing how cooking helps kids with direction following.

Thanksgiving snack for kids to help with. Turkey peanut butter pretzel rod snack

Turkey Pretzel Snack for Kids

This post contains affiliate links.  You can read our full disclosure here.  

Turkey themed snack. This Thanksgiving dessert that kids can make is perfect treat for kids this Thanksgiving.



To make these cute turkey snacks, you’ll need a few essentials.

  • Pretzel rods
  • Peanut butter (Melted chocolate would work too.)
  • Brown sprinkles or Fall sprinkles
  • candy eyes
  • candy corn
  • yellow m&ms
  • Twizzler licorice stick
  • Chocolate (melted)
Use peanut butter to make quick thanksgiving treats kids will love.

Start by covering one half of a pretzel rod with peanut butter.  

The kids loved doing this part.  It was very messy, but very fun.  Lots of giggles happened.  Lots of hand wiping, but lots of smiles 🙂 We used a knife from our plastic cutlery set for kids for spreading the peanut butter.

Kids can roll the pretzel rods in sprinkles to make these pretzel rod turkeys.

Roll the peanut butter in sprinkles.  You’ll need to pour more sprinkles over the pretzel rods to get all of the peanut butter coated in brown.  Watch for sneaky fingers stealing sprinkles.  It happens.

Sprinkles for a turkey pretzel rod snack for kids.

“Glue” on the candy eyes with a bit of peanut butter.  You can use melted chocolate in these turkey snacks need to be transported.  

Cooking offers kids a chance for fine motor work.



Cute Thanksgiving Treat

Take the cute Thanksgiving treat factor up a notch with the details.

Press a yellow m&m into the peanut butter between the candy eyes.  Asking children to gently press the treats into the pretzel rod snack is an opportunity to work on precision, dexterity, pincer grasp, and proprioception.

Snip a small sliver of the Twizzler for the turkey’s gobbler.  Use a pair of child friendly scissors and ask the kiddos to cut the licorice for a scissor skills activity they will get a kick out of. The kids thought this part was genius!  “It looks just right, mom!”  

Use the melted chocolate to stick the candy corn feathers into place on the back of the turkey.  We just stuck the candy corns into the peanut butter since we were letting the snacks sit out until later to try them.  But, you’ll want to definitely use the chocolate “glue” to keep the candy corn feathers in place.

Cute turkey snack for kids made from pretzel rods.

Enjoy!  

More turkey activities you will love:

Easy Turkey Crafts

Cardboard Tube Turkey Craft

Free Turkey Theme Therapy Slide Deck

Turkey and Thanksgiving Fine Motor Activities

Thanksgiving Fine Motor Kit

Thanksgiving Fine Motor Kit, on sale now.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Teach Direction Following with Cooking

Did you know you can teach direction following with cooking tasks? It’s true! Teaching direction following can be tough!  Kids and following directions is sometimes like pulling teeth, especially when it comes to completing tasks around the home. The bedtime routine or morning routine is just one example of where direction following is a struggle.

Helping kids with strategies to address multi step activities in occupational therapy sessions is one tool to work on direction following with kids. In fact, occupational therapy cooking activities is a great way to teach direction following with cooking by reading recipes with kids, and asking them to follow instructions at various levels.

Call it cooking therapy! Using cooking activities to higher level cognitive skills can be fun with delicious results! Below are a few ways to use cooking as a following direction activity that teaches skills.

Direction following activity with cooking tasks are a great way to work on following multi-step directions in occupational therapy.

Multi Step Direction following

You may see difficulties with direction following in every part of daily life with kids. You tell them to go upstairs to get dressed and they pull out their clothes, start playing and forget the getting dressed part.

Mom asks them to put their homework into their backpack and put the backpack away and she finds the homework on the coffee table and the backpack on the steps.  

Following directions and childhood can be a real struggle! They get distracted, resist, or forget instructions and the tasks they were supposed to complete are half-way done. 

So what is going on when kids have trouble following directions? Part of it may be executive functioning issues. Or, it could be that it’s just typical development of these skills. Kids can work on improving their direction-following abilities with multi-step direction activities.

Multi step direction  following activities are great in occupational therapy sessions to work on executive functioning skills for kids.

Direction Following activities in the kitchen

Today, I’m sharing ways to teach direction following while cooking with your kids.  Time, practice, modeling, structure, growth, and play can help with direction following. Today, I have tips, tools, and ideas to help cook with your child and work on direction following in the kitchen.  

If you have been following this blog for long, you know that I love to get my kiddos busy in the kitchen. They are my little helpers; my ingredient-grabbing, dish-washing, egg-cracking, apron-clad cuties.  

My favorite part of cooking alongside my kids, though?  I love the one-on-one time (or usually, the group dynamic of more than one helpful child) while we cook a dish that we enjoy as a family.  It’s productive and real-world creativity and meaningful time spent together.  

Cooking with my kids provides time of memory building (and ALL four kids never forget to ask to lick the beaters when we bake…or that time the flour flew up out of the mixer and all over the fridge…).  

But, not only are we cooking up memories together, we’re making fun dishes that my kids recall long after the dishes have been washed and the many (Oh, so many!) smudgy fingerprints have been scrubbed.  

Besides all of these mommy -based benefits to cooking with my kids, there are the developmental and educational benefits of cooking with children.

The Occupational Therapist in me loves the sensory, fine motor, bilateral coordination, visual perceptual, and motor planning skill areas that are developed through cooking.  

There are SO many skills that can be worked on through cooking.  Every Occupational Therapist recalls their time in OT school where they assessed each step of cooking a grilled cheese sandwich with their pretend client…all of the fine motor, strengthening, endurance, cognitive, and physical aspects of a simple occupation of making lunch.

Today, I’ve got ways to work on direction following by cooking with your kiddos!  

These ideas are perfect for working on specific skills. Add them to a cooking group for kids or to therapeutic cooking classes for kids.

Use the specific direction-following strategies listed here to work on skills like planning, prioritization, and task completion by reading recipes and other kitchen tasks.

Cooking activities for kids can be used to teach kids about following directions. Use them in kids cooking classes or occupational therapy cooking groups.

Teaching Direction Following with Cooking Activities

Cooking activities in the kitchen provides unique opportunities.  Kids can practice skills that are needed to imagine, prepare, create, and serve food.

 Each step of cooking requires attention to detail to prevent skipping steps or dangerous situations with sharp knives or hot stoves.  

Adults can help with direction following in recipes and food prep/cleaning up in many ways.

Tips to help kids with direction following:

  • Model appropriate behaviors.
  • Rehearse parts of the cooking process.  This is especially ideal for safety concerns, like handling sharp tools or managing the stove.
  • Verbal, visual, or physical prompts for appropriate behavior during cooking tasks.
  • Practice turn-taking with tasks like stirring and mixing ingredients.
  • Organize a child’s participation with written directions.  Some kids might need picture sequencing cards or social stories before beginning a cooking task.
  • Break down tasks into smaller parts. Children can sequence parts of the task before starting. Use different techniques (written directions, picture cards, strips of paper with directions written out.  The child must sequence the steps of a task before starting on the cooking process.
  • Verbally tell your child one direction at a time to work on verbal direction following. Allow them to complete the tasks successfully, then add more complex or multi-step directions.  Add more details slowly and don’t add more until they are successfully following the next level of directions.
  • Provide a written checklist for kids.  They can mark off completed tasks.
  • Together with your child, draw out the parts of a recipe.  A visually organized list is better for some kids.
  • Practice direction following with a simple task that the child knows how to do.  If they can pour their own cereal and milk, instruct them to tell you or another child each step of the task.  Act out or perform the activity as your child tells each step.  They will be able to see any mistakes and self-correct, or correct their directions with a little prompting.  Telling the step-by-step directions to another person is a great way to practice direction following. 
  • Discuss transitional words like first, second, third, last.  Write out directions for a task like washing hands.  Have your child sort the directions into order using the directional words.

More benefits to cooking with kids:

  • Problem solving in cooking can carry over to other areas like self-care and management of personal items.
  • Improved self-confidence.
  • Communication and language development while talking about ingredients.
  • Functional practice of life-skills.
  • Strengthened family support system through team working on a collaborative task.
  • Personal and family well-being development.
  • Sensory exploration of new or different tastes, scents, and textures.
  • Proprioceptive input while cutting vegetables, kneading bread, stirring ingredients.
  • Conversation turn-taking
  • Self-management.
  • Improved self-confidence.
  • Exploration of self-identity.
  • Individualized modifications can be made to meet the child’s needs and abilities.
  • Meaningful tasks encourage carry-over of practiced skills.
  • The kitchen is a natural environment and functional work here will lead to carryover of practiced skills.
  • Cooking with various textures, colors and scents will encourage kids to try new foods.
  • Tool use and practice.

Now, Take the Direction Following out of the kitchen!

So, you’ve worked with your mini chef on all of the tasks involved with cooking a recipe (or washing dishes, chopping fruits, getting out needed ingredients…whatever is appropriate for your child!) and now what?  

How do you help your little one to brush their teeth when they are told without accidentally getting distracted and messing in the toilet water as their toothbrush sits untouched? (Only real-life examples here, folks!)  

Carryover the skills you’ve worked on with your kiddo in the kitchen into other areas.  Use what’s worked and use those same tips that I shared above in all areas.  

Sequencing cards, one step directions, activity breakdown…they can all be used in other jobs, too.  

Use the ones that work and modify the ones that don’t. The best thing about cooking and working on direction following is the tasty reward to getting the job done, the together time, and the meaningful time.  

Use that to work on the tricky direction following skills and then try them in other areas.   

One way to support development of direction following skills is to start simple! Use this lemon lime popsicle recipe to get started. There are only a few ingredients and kids can pour, scoop, and place items into the popsicle molds.

Cooking and food preparation is a task that is done daily in households.  

Cooking in the kitchen is an opportunity or learning and development that can be done every day.  Practice some of these tips and hopefully, you will see some direction following development!  

This post is part of my 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series where I’m sharing 31 days of activities that use free or practically free treatment materials.  

While cooking and ingredients are certainly not free, food prep and meals are something that must be done every day.  Use the opportunity to learn and explore with your child!  The memories (and hopefully not flying flour!) will follow.

 

 
Cooking with kids to practice direction following and problem solving, sequencing and other cognitive aspects of childhood.  These tips and ideas are fun and creative ways to practice skills needed for cooking and preparing meals for families.  From an Occupational Therapist.
 
 
 
 

Halloween Smoothie Recipe for Kids

Halloween is a holiday of sweets and treats.  Sometimes, you need a healthy Halloween snack for the kids that doesn’t involve chocolate, processed ingredients, or high calories. That’s where this Halloween smoothie recipe comes in. Halloween recipes that double as a fun and cute healthy snack is almost as much of a hit with kids as the sugary candy is.  We make a lot of smoothie recipes, so my kids are used to the blender chopping up foods into smoothies, so it was not difficult to think of this smoothie recipe for kids to enjoy! Skip the sweets and serve up fruits and veggies with this fun Halloween green smoothie recipe

Frankenstein cup craft and green smoothie recipe for a fun Halloween snack for kids. Make these at a Halloween party for a healthy alternative to sweet drinks!

 

 
 

Halloween Smoothie Recipe

Frankenstein cup craft and green smoothie recipe for a fun Halloween snack for kids. Make these at a Halloween party for a healthy alternative to sweet drinks!

 

So, we are a big smoothie family over here. We love smoothie recipes made with a variety of fruits and veggies.

This Halloween smoothie was a spur of the moment idea though. We started by making a Frankenstein craft with a simple glass.  (Affiliate links are being included in this post.)  

The materials you’ll need for your Frankenstein craft include:

 

Tall drinking glass
(If you are worried about using a glass cup with your child, you can make these with clear plastic cups, too. 

black cardstock
scissors
Clear Tape
Green Cardstock
Peel and Stick Googly Eyes

Cut a strip of black cardstock and cut a jagged line along one edge.  Tape this onto the top of the glass or cup.  Stick the sticky back googly eyes onto the face of the Frankenstein.  

Cut small rectangles of the green Cardstock and tape them at the ear.  Bend the cardstock so the rectangles stick out.

Cut a jagged mouth and tape it into place.  It’s that easy!  This would be such a fun craft for kids to make at a Halloween party.

Green Monster Drink

Frankenstein cup craft and green smoothie recipe for a fun Halloween snack for kids. Make these at a Halloween party for a healthy alternative to sweet drinks!
 
Next, get your kids in on the cooking activity by making a green smoothie together.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever fruits or vegetables you’ve got on hand.  
 
We made our green smoothie using baby spinach, strawberries, and milk.  
 
Other ingredients might include frozen (or fresh) bananas, blueberries, raspberries, mango, kiwi, blackberries, cherries, pears, apples, peaches, or any fruits.  For the green color you could substitute kale or other leafy green vegetable.  
 

Smoothies for Kids

Toss 1 cup of baby leaf spinach into a blender.  Pour in 1 cup of milk.  
 
Blend this together on a high speed until the spinach is pulverized and liquid.  
 
Add 1 and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries. Blend again until the fruit is well blended.  
 
(You could use other liquids for your smoothie instead of the milk.  Try juice, almond milk, water, or coconut milk. Also consider adding ice cubes for a frozen drink.)  
 
As you can see, there is a lot of room for substitution with this recipe.  Pour the green smoothie into the Frankenstein cups and have fun with your Halloween treat!
 
Frankenstein cup craft and green smoothie recipe for a fun Halloween snack for kids. Make these at a Halloween party for a healthy alternative to sweet drinks!
 
Play around with different combinations for a healthy and fun snack for the kids!

What are some other ways you could make a Halloween smoothie with a little creativity?

Use a glass cup and draw a face on the outside of the cup using a dry erase marker.

Make a purple monster drink using berries to make a monster smoothie for Halloween breakfast. 

Make a mango and strawberry smoothie and make it into a pumpkin for a smoothie recipe kids will love.

Sensory Benefits of Smoothies

Ok…This Frankenstein green smoothie has been on The OT Toolbox for yeeeaarsss and I totally forgot about it!

Actually, drinking a smoothie has a lot of sensory benefits. The oral motor skills required to drink a smoothie through a straw offers heavy, proprioceptive input and feedback.  “Sucking is also a calming and organizing activity which requires closing the lips, lip strength and the ability to hold the jaw in a stable position” (Yack, Aquilla and Sutton, 2015).  When kids need a calm down moment or a chance to chill after a day at school, a smoothie can make all the difference.

Check out some other Halloween occupational therapy activities that can be incorporated into this time of year while boosting skills and areas kids nee.

How fun for a group activity…talk about the calming effects of sipping a smoothing through a straw, self-regulation, and coping strategies like the heavy “work” that a smoothie offers!

 

This would be GREAT “homework” for kiddos to do with the family. You could totally do a purple monster spin on this recipe and go for berries ? instead of the leafy greens ? that we used to make this one. ✌? 

Halloween Foods for Kids

 
Frankenstein cup craft and green smoothie recipe for a fun Halloween snack for kids. Make these at a Halloween party for a healthy alternative to sweet drinks!

Tell me…Have you made a Halloween smoothie for a Halloween breakfast? 

 

Yack, E., Aquilla, P. and Sutton, S. (2015) Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration (Third Edition).

Pete the Cat White Shoes Cookies

shoe craft and cookies
It is so much fun to explore children’s books through crafts and activities.  This week in the Preschool Book Club, we’re baking up some sugar cookies to go along with the book, Pete the Cat I love My White Shoes, by Eric Litwin.  This was such a FUN (and tasty) way to read and play with one of our favorite books.  
But really, we have so many loved books, it’s hard to pick just a few favorites.  
 
We definitely love our sugar cookies so combining Pete the Cat and cookies was a sure win in our house!
Make and decorate sugar cookies with the kids.  Activity based on the book, Pete the Cat i Love My White Shoes


Pete the Cat I love My White Shoes Cookies

 
This post contains affiliate links.  
 
There’s no cooler cat than Pete.  What better way to celebrate this chill dude than a sugar high with the kids.  I kid, I kid.  All things in moderation.  Or as Pete says, “It’s all good”.
Mix up a batch of your favorite sugar cookies and get ready for some decorating fun with the kids.
I used a butter knife to cut shoe shapes from dough.  
This Little Guy helped.
 
Once baked, the decorating began.  With royal icing, you’ll need to let the outline dry for about ten minutes and then fill in with the background color.  
Make sure you put the tray of cookies up so little fingers can’t “taste test” the icing. 
Once filled in, the base color needs to dry overnight.  I added the black outline to the shoes at this point so it would be a flat outline, but if you want a raised edge, let the cookies dry before tracing with black.  



When you’re ready to decorate, mix up a few bowls of colored icing.  We always use Wilton gel icing colors because they are so bold and last forever.  Mix a little into a bowl of royal icing with a toothpick and stir.


Now the fun begins!

We were lucky enough to have Elsa with us for decorating.
 
We are STILL on a Frozen kick.

Oh, the concentration!  I gave the kids new paint brushes and we painted our shoes!  


In the book, Pete is wearing his white shoes and walking along.  He unfortunately comes upon a big pile of strawberries that he happens to step in.  Pete, being the cool cat that he is, doesn’t fret.  He goes with it and is pleased with the new shade of his shoes.  A similar thing happens when Pete steps into a pile of blueberries and a mud puddle.  To go along with Pete’s shoes in the book, we used red, blue, and brown icing.

It was pretty neat to see how each of the kids painted their shoes.  It really matched their personalities!

{{Elsa’s little sister, Ana joined in the fun, too.}}

When we get a Pete the Cat book, we usually end up reading it so much that we can recite the book.  While we painted, we said the lines.  


“I love my blue shoes, I love my blue shoes”.

Some of the shoes got a nice mix of colors. 
 
There was a little sneaking of icing.  
 
Of course.
“It’s all good.”
I made a few of the other details of the book.
 
Brown for the mud puddle.
Strawberries.
Blueberries.
All equally tasty.
Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes sugar cookies
 
Check out the other Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes activities from the bloggers in the Preschool Book Club:
Sorting shoes math activity ~Buggy and Buddy
Watermelon painted shoes ~Mama. Papa. Bubba. blog