YaYa’s in the Kitchen: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How

YaYa’s in the Kitchen: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How

YaYa’s in the Kitchen

This is the first installment as we officially introduce our YaYa’s in the Kitchen Blog and celebrate Summer 2015!

Answering the Who, What, Where, When, Why & How of this YaYa’s in the Kitchen from this Speech-Language Pathologist.

WHO #1:

YaYa, that’s me (Lori) ! No, I am not Greek, but when choosing a name of endearment for our extended family’s grandbabies to call me, I knew YaYa was perfect. Then through the natural progression of my professional work with children experiencing a wide range of communication challenges, I found that YaYa was perfect for them to use too. Really, who can say, Miss Lori or Mrs. Grayson?! Too many r, l, and s sounds!

WHO #2: 

That would be YOU. You as defined by “adults” who want to experience the joy of baking/cooking with grand/children and family.


YaYa’s in the Kitchen features recipes which you can easily prepare with your grand/children (no minimum age requirement), can be made with minimal supervision depending on each child’s age & “kitchen” experience, or if you are “sans” children, just for you! While I tend to use whole wheat flours, decrease the sugar in most recipes, substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil, add oatmeal, flax or chia to as many recipes as I can, I have also learned some recipes can only be tweaked so much before losing the true taste and texture. So, I will generally present the original recipe and add notes for successful changes. I encourage you to be brave and experiment, make notes and find what works best for your family. I am sure that gluten-free, nut-free, or other substitutions will work for many as well.


Find recipes in this blog series!


Starting Summer 2015


Because baking & cooking focus on the shared experience of exploring language, early literacy, reading, mathematics, technology, arts & social communication interactions with our children/families.

Not to mention the independent skills learned that will carry each child far. AND, then there are the mostly joyful new sensory experiences. You know… the incredible smells, the textures, the visual array of colors, the sounds of noisy kitchen tools, and then the finality of tasting and eating one’s creations.


Just follow along and pick a recipe of your choice to share with your grand/children. If you are a family of this Center, we can arrange to make it at the office or at your home depending on where your sessions are scheduled. Or, you can make them on your own with your children.

Some History:

I have been baking & cooking, well let’s just say, for a long time.  I was fortunate to grow up in a home where both of my parents cooked and my mother baked. My husband, Andrew, cooks and started baking with our sons when they were younger. Andrew and I have learned plenty since we first experienced toddlers with food. Hence, the great photos of faces covered with oatmeal or spaghetti sauce captured for each of our very young sons. I remain a firm believer in allowing the child to have a spoon and both hands to “assist” in their own feeding. Be prepared for the mess and just know it is part of the learning curve. Through years of cooking and baking with our sons, both are capable in their kitchens, but naturally, enjoy when we cook for them during visits!

Some MORE History: 

I learned early in my career that children enjoyed snacks, so what better way to involve each child than to start “cooking”. Now, for sure, it may be a combo of dried fruit, cereal or nuts and not full fledged kitchen time. But, you’d be surprised what a child will try when s/he is at someone else’s office/house and that is all that is available. So, I have incorporated this into my Speech-Language Pathology services since my early years as an SLP. In 1992, I was fortunate to receive a Chapter II Mini-Grant which allowed me to develop and publish a cookbook entitled CARE (Cooking And Reading Experiences) with the students, families teachers & staff at John G. Riley Elementary in Tallahassee, Florida.

Baker’s Dozen Benefits & Tips: 

  1. Children with or without SLP or related challenges all gain from their baking & cooking experiences.
  2. Slightly hungry/thirsty children will be more flexible & willing to try new foods/drinks in new places with new people more often than at home.
  3. Traveling is a great experience for communication growth and exploring new foods/drinks. For backup, carry a supply of familiar foods.
  4. Children will be more willing to try new foods when experiencing the “joy” of preparation or trying a new food along with a favorite food. Texture, Taste, Temperature, Touch are key to new experiences. KNOW your child and change only one variable at a time.
  5. These activities are worthwhile even if the child doesn’t taste the food, any involvement such as watching, preparing, seeing you taste, serving you, cleaning up is also important.
  6. Children like to use tools and baking & cooking include great tools.
  7. Children like to be “In Charge”, so let them be the “Chef” or the “Baker”. Let them plan the meal, select the recipe, shop for the ingredients, take the pictures, wear a child-sized hat and apron or borrow yours! (Maybe not all of these responsibilities at one time!)
  8. Learning is all about watching others, imitation and comparing and contrasting. This carries over into the kitchen. There are wonderful new nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs all around you…Use them!
  9. Consider plastic and wooden tools and child-sized or small versions for the smaller hands.
  10. Find a safe stool or work at a lower table to prevent spills, falls, or other “ow-ees”.
  11. Be prepared, get your tools, cleaning items, and ingredients ready BEFORE starting, especially with the younger set & expect this to be messy!
  12. Make copies of recipes, put them in clear plastic sleeves, get dividers, organize them and start a Family Cookbook.
  13. Together you can add a review & rating, make corrections, notes to self, changes you want to try, and photos or drawings.
  14. Watch for NOTES from YaYa in each blog post.

Words of Wisdom

  It’s all about toppings, treasure hunts and FUN!

  • Chocolate chips baked inside, say pumpkin bread, make the “cake” worthwhile to taste.
  • Sprinkles are the equivalent of edible glitter, they make everything more exciting.
  • Scooping is easier than handling a sandwich, hence a utensil, cracker or chip.
  • Mozzarella cheese makes all veggies look like a pizza.
  • Dipping creates fun with raw veggies.
  • Adding a few chocolate chips to a “trail mix” encourages sorting (they will seek the chips) and tasting (have them eat a new item with the chip).

MORE Words of Wisdom 

It’s all about taking your time, transitions and flexibility! 

  • Double or triple the time the recipe states so you will not be rushing through and missing the “moments of sharing and learning”!
  • Take shortcuts when you want with prepared crusts, cakes, etc. and focus on the “moments of sharing and learning”!
  • A small hand mirror at the table while learning to drink from an open cup allows each child to see their milk moustache.
  • Use small bathroom sized cups (clear if you can find them) for children transitioning to open cups.
  • Clear cups help all children gauge better as they learn to drink.
  • Straws are important to learn to use but don’t over use them.
  • Open cup drinking is almost a lost art for children due to the daily use of sippy, spouted and strawed containers. Use open cups at meals and snacks  at the table. Have dish towels, a sponge or paper towels available for the expected spills.
  • Bring child-proof scissors into the kitchen for opening packaging safely.
  • Encourage independence by allowing your child to do what s/he can even if it takes longer.


  2. While I do not encourage food fights, I do encourage the natural mess that occurs so be prepared with aprons, dish towels and paper towels for spills, splatters & drips. YES, the children should also help clean up!
  3. Don’t forget the camera, please share your pictures or videos with me. Pictures and videos are the perfect formats for reviewing the new vocabulary, retelling a recent event, learning sequencing (photos need to be printed) for first, second…, matching written words/sentences to the pictures and much, much, more.


This is an extension of my love of baking/cooking and the positive experiences you can have with your grand/children and family and NOT an SLP handbook of any kind.  If you have a child with an oral motor problem, including but not limited to chewing, drooling, or swallowing challenges, food allergies, eating disorders, or other behavioral or medical conditions, please consult your primary care physician, an SLP, or other professional for guidance. 

I am “Thankful” for this opportunity to share with you and your family. Enjoy the time together, enjoy the tastes, enjoy the treats!

Join me as we share adventures with our children, chatting and cooking!

QUESTIONS?! Contact me


Thankful.1 webpage

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