Cooking with Children with Disabilities using Chef Boyardee

I think cooking with kids is awesome! I think working with kids with special needs is inspiring. I created a lesson to use with children with special needs. You can find some awesome recipes using Chef Boyardee Products . 

I believe that with the proper instruction every child can be taught to help in the kitchen.  I will provide you with an example of how I would teach making Chef Boyardee’s Mac & Cheese to my children. Cooking is an amazing way to teach necessary life skills and academic skills. The skills you will learning following a recipe are: Reading left to right, identification of cooking equipment and purpose, following directions, processing verbal and non verbal cues, ordering and sequencing of events.

You can easily create cards to order the instructions for making the Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese.  You can use as many steps as you wish. I documented the ones my son identified would occur if he was to make the meal.

Note: In the pictures above I added in the measuring cup to reinforce using a measuring cup. You can ask how many ½ cups are in a can. I also wanted to show one child sharing with another. There are two pictures of someone taking food out of the microwave one is a parent and one is a child. This is for safety reasons. This will allow for a conversation about who should touch things that are hot. It can also be used to identify what is different sequence of pictures depicting the process of cooking a bowl of Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese

The modifications of this simple Chef Boyardee recipe are easy.  The most restrictive version is to have the child watch the parent as they make the Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese and watch as the parent places the pictures depicting the parent’s actions in order. The parent can model the whole process as the child watches. The next idea is the parent can model the first step. The parent places the card in order on the counter or in a recipe folder. Then the child does the same cooking action of the parent. This goes on until all the steps are complete and the meal is ready to eat. The next idea for modifications is to have the student do the cooking actions by looking at the pictures and having the guidance of the parent as they move through the entire process. The least restrictive approach is to have the child look at the picture cards or recipe and complete the process without help from the parent.


The cards can be used to teach sequencing by placing them in the order they would occur. The cards can be used to have the student tell you what is missing if you lay out five cards in the sequence and the 6th card of the child eating is missing. You can have your child tell you the child is not eating. The cards can be used to show which actions the child is going to take during the recipe and which one the parent will perform. You can indicate this by placing a sticker, circle, or the child’s name or laminated pictures of the child on the cards in the recipe book or on the photographs on the counter. This is a great way to teach turn taking. It also helps minimize the anxiety some children may feel since they can see when it is their turn. The cards are also effective in teaching the concept of First, Second, Third, and Fourth.

The child could also read the instructions with the help of the picture queue.


Tip: Always use a dry erase marker on the back of the card to write what step number it is or if you are teaching first, second, third etc you can label the cards accordingly.

The possibilities are endless and the opportunity to capture teachable moments awaits you as soon as you step into your kitchen with your child.

Join me today at 2:00 pm October 18, 2012 for more Teachable Moments