Throughout the year there are many special occasions that you can celebrate with cake, like birthdays of family members and friends. Building a cookie castle or fairy castle cake with your child is a great activity to introduce new language to them. There are various cookie castle recipes around that you can follow to build the main castle structure, which is usually made from sponge cake or dough. Make sure you have a range of sweets, cookies, wafers, and other yummy things available in all different colors, shapes and sizes. Once you have baked the castle structure, prepare some icing sugar and then you and your child can start decorating with the sweets!
So, let’s begin building a fairy castle!
1: Find out what your child already knows about castles from books, films, or discussions you’ve had together. It’s useful to find out what your child already knows about these topics and build on this.
2: Introduce the idea of a castle made of cakes and confectionery with a story. For example: “Once upon a time, there lived a fairy who loved sweets. She created a castle with her magic. The wall was made with wafers, the roof was made with chocolate bars, and the floor with gummi bears”.
3: Allow your child to take the lead in designing the house with the food items available in your home. Ask your child “Would you like to make the walls with biscuits or sponge cake? Where do you want me to place the Cheerios?” Encourage them to be creative!
4: Encourage your child’s imagination with comments like “That was a great idea to use wafers for the fence!”
5: Use indirect requests to promote auditory understanding. For example, “I am looking for something round and big to make a pond by the castle. . .what do you suggest we use? Yes, that’s right, a doughnut is a great idea!”
6: Encourage counting. For example, “Can you pass me 10 marshmallows to decorate this wall?” For children with more developed communication skills, you can say “I need lots of jelly beans to fill the space around the castle.”
7: Discuss differences between candy items. For example, cookies vs biscuits, cake vs pastry, candy vs toffee vs chocolate. You can also talk about the different tools you are using and the action with them, for example “cut the chocolate bar with the knife, pull apart the cotton candy, squish the jelly bean with a spoon”.
8: Help your child to name each sweet individually, rather than “sweet” for all the different kinds. Repeat the specific name of the sweet each time you pick one up. Your child may not use the individual names immediately, but will be listening and may start to say them with enough exposure.
9: Once you are finished building the cookie castle, encourage your child to explain to another family member how they built the castle. Remind the family member to ask lots of questions, for example “What did you use to build the walls?” and “Why did you decide to decorate the floor like that?”
10: Photograph the castle and put it up your fridge to share or talk about the memory in the future. Include the picture in your experience book to tell your hearing professional at the next session.
11: Keep the activity fun and interesting, and follow your child’s lead in what they’re interested in. Remember, Language is caught, not taught!
Want to build a castle out of fruit instead? There are a range of creative food ideas to be found online—simply substitute the ingredients and apply the same strategies as above, remembering that talking is key!
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