This activity from Sri Lanka shows ways to encourage students at a variety of levels engaging in the preparation of a coconut snack. Many skills can be taught through this activity, such as motor skills, sequencing, basic concepts (big/little, soft/hard), hygiene, social and communication skills.
1. Discuss coconuts.
a. Have the students identify them, through questions such as "What is this?", "Where does it come from?", "What do we use it for?"
b. Talk about the features of coconuts, asking questions such as "Are they hard or soft?" Students can compare the size, weight, shape and texture of different coconuts.
c. Count how many coconuts there are.
2. Gather or purchase coconuts.
Ideally the students should be involved in getting coconuts for this cooking activity.
3. Discuss the plans for the cooking activity.
a. Talk about what food item will be prepared.
b. Identify which pieces of equipment will be needed.
c. Talk about any special preparations, such as the need to clean off the tables first and wash hands.
4. Have the students participate in all steps of the process, at whatever level of participation they are able.
a. Invite the students to help to clean off the tables and wash their hands to prepare for the activity.
b. Ask the students to gather the materials and ingredients for the activity (bowls, grater, plates, etc.). It is helpful if these are kept in a predictable location and labeled with print/braille/textures/objects/pictures, so that students can find them more easily.
5. Encourage the students to be as independent as possible.
Ask the students to use both hands, and provide support using hand-under-hand (rather than hand-over-hand). This will allow them to be more in control and to feel when the adults are doing.
6. Have the students take turns.
Students can sit in a circle around a table, so that each one is involved throughout the activity. This helps to reinforce social and communication skills.
7. Eat the snack that the class has prepared!
It's nice to give students the immediate reinforcement of eating what they have prepared. If there is extra food it can be shared with other classes, sent to the student's house or residential hall, or sold.
8. Talk and write about the activity after it has been completed.
This activity lends itself well to a language experience story, where the class tells about what happens, writing down whatever they are able to write, or dictating to the teacher or another adult who writes it down. The story can then be illustrated with tactile illustrations, including small shreds of coconut or the shells or other related items mentioned in the story.