If you clicked on this blog hoping to hear scientific evidence that eating pizza will improve your child's language skills, I am so sorry to disappoint you! If you haven't noticed yet, you will soon start to see that everything you do can provide an opportunity to build language, One of my family's favourite, fun, and fast activities is making pizza!
Here are 4 fun ways you can build language while making pizza with your family:
1. Using Language
Categories: Sort toppings into different food groups or into fruits vs. vegetables. Have your child guess which group each topping belongs to.
Sequencing: Talk about what comes first and last (put on the sauce, then the vegetables and cheese, last put it in the oven). For younger kids, using pictures would make this a little easier. Have your child put the pictures in order and then follow each step together according to the pictures (if they are in the wrong order pretend to do the steps as they are listed and see if your child will correct the order).
Predicting: Ask your child to guess what's going to happen next (e.g., "What's going to happen when we put the pizza in the oven?").
Vocabulary: Build your child's descriptive vocabulary using words like: crunchy, gooey, homemade, delicious, hot, spicy, big, little, whole, yummy, and colourful.
Making Sentences: Build sentences using conjunctions like "and," "or," "until," etc. (E.g., "Don't put the pizza in the oven until you hear it beep." "I am going to make a pepperoni pizza or a cheese pizza. What are you going to make?").
2. Understanding Language
Making choices: Start with a choice between 2 toppings. Label each topping ("Tomatoes or pineapple?"). Your child can indicate which topping they want using eye gaze, pointing, sounds, or words (accept the form of communication your child is beginning to use). You can make this activity more challenging by providing 3 toppings to choose from or by increasing the level of communication you will accept (instead of accepting a "p" for pepperoni you may accept "pep").
For toddlers you can practice one step directions (e.g., "Get the cheese.").
Once your child can follow one step directions, increase the difficulty by adding another step (e.g., "Put the pepperoni on and sprinkle the cheese.")
If your child can follow 2 step directions you can increase the difficulty even more (e.g., "Put the pepperoni on the left side and the green peppers on the right side, then sprinkle the cheese.")
3. Executive Functioning
Planning: Have your child help you make a grocery list of all the things you will need to make a pizza. They can look up recipes online or come up with it on their own. Take them to the grocery store with their list and have them find the items and check them off. For older kids, you can even set a budget and have them look through grocery store flyers to find the best prices.
Problem Solving: You may have opportunities to problem solve if you don't have all of the toppings that your child wanted or there isn't enough pieces for everyone. Allowing your child the opportunity to come up with a solution to a problem is an excellent way to build independence.
Generating Ideas: Have your child come up with a list of all the possible topping for a pizza.
Flexible Thinking: Have your child thinking creatively and come up with their own pizza. Have them come up with a name for their pizza.
Weighing the Options: Look at pizza flyers or pizza websites and determine how much it might cost to order a pizza versus how much it would cost to make a pizza. Come up with a pros and a cons list for making a pizza at home versus ordering a pizza (e.g., think of cost, time, enjoyment, learning opportunity, etc.).
4. Feeding Skills
As an added bonus, including your child in planning and preparing food increases their interest in food and their willingness to try new foods.
Hope you and your family have a FUN FRIDAY making personal pizzas... I know my family sure did! :)