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Reading made delicious!

Learning to read …. in the kitchen with recipes: Making reading practice fun, purposeful and delicious

It's great to have phonics and literacy expert, podcast host, teacher, tutor and all things reading-in-the-kitchen expert Sarah Travers from as our guest blogger!

As tutors and teachers, we talk a lot about multisensory learning and intrinsic motivation when learning to read - so reading recipes in order to make something delicious is the genius way to do it! Over to Sarah!

Sarah Travers of
Sarah Travers

Learning to read with recipes in the kitchen? Really?

The images we often have of children learning to read will be of them holding books or doing phonics activities with flashcards or games.

When I started helping my own daughter with learning to read, we were doing exactly that. We followed a phonics program and would use decodable readers (and we still do this as part of our toolkit!)

One day we got a book out and she then told me the dreaded line of ‘this is boring.’ As a former teacher and reading tutor I knew what we should be doing to help develop reading, but as a parent it's definitely a different journey.

So I got creative. I remembered that I would create visual recipe cards with decodable words when I was in the classroom. The children in my class loved it. I created a recipe for cake for my daughter and she loved it!!

phonics and eraly literacy in the kitchen, ideal for in-person tutoring

Learning to read in the kitchen has natural motivators…
Read the words + follow the steps = eat cake!

A great thing about using recipes to help with reading and phonics practice is that it has a natural motivation. Simply put, you need to apply your reading skills to get the end product. It is reading practice that ends with an actual cake!

One of the struggles that we can often face is getting children motivated to read. Even with the most enthusiastic child who loves reading, there are days they just do not want to look at a book. For a struggling reader this is a regular occurrence.

Using recipes can take this pressure away. Not only is the motivation to get to the end product, there is also so many other skills being learned as well.

phonics and eralyl iteracy at home, ideal for phonics, literacy, reading and tutoring
Often we may feel that an activity has not gone well, if the child did not meet the specific goal we set out (for example reading a sentence in a book). But if they are using a recipe for learning to read, even if the reading didn’t go so well, they could have learned to crack an egg or safely cut strawberries.

This takes away some of the pressure on reading and also as adults supporting them we know that the time dedicated to helping them is creating progress towards life skills.

Reading in Real Life

To help a child with phonics and learning to read whether as a teacher, tutor, parent, or grandparent there is constant guidance for children to ‘see’ us reading. Again, the first thought is for us to be sat with our own book reading alongside them.

Now, as a teacher and also tutor this is what I thought I would do for my own child. But, the realities of this are I am interrupted several times and with the gazillion other things I need to do as part of being a mum to small children, it just doesn’t happen!

This is why I love using recipes! I can show my children reading. It has a real tangible purpose. Here I can authentically model reading to them. Whether I am using recipes specially designed for them to read or a recipe that I am following. They see me reading.

Showing them the mechanics of learning to read

As it is an immersive and authentic experience, I can zoom in on words and show them individual sounds, how to blend them together to read a word and how that is separate from the next word.

If we come across a phonics pattern that haven’t learnt yet, it's a teachable moment. If they can read all the words, they cook and I get a cup of tea - just joking… that's the goal one day though!

But …. surely it’s messy

I get this one. I hate flour being everywhere too. I have had to adopt the mantra ‘learning is messy’ and ‘progress over perfection’. Hands-on, practical and purposeful learning activities are shown again and again to have much greater benefits for a child’s learning than repeated worksheets.

Whilst direct, quality first teaching has an important role in learning to read, mastery comes with applying this learning in as many situations as possible.

And if you are after some tips how to set up your kitchen for success to reduce the mess, check out this podcast episode.

But I am a Tutor, How Can I Fit Using Recipes In?

When I was an online reading tutor one of my super-powers was efficiency. Parents were always amazed at what I could fit in 30 minutes! But I was always asked by parents, is there anything else they could be doing with their child to help with reading.

If you are tutoring in-person, you could use a recipe once a term or even once a month as part a session.

Setting a recipe challenge as an additional activity outside of sessions is a great idea too. Often children have full schedules, so using a recipe could help support developing life skills and creating connection with families alongside reading developing.

It could also be a optional resource that you point families towards.

Tutor Like a Pro! members are going be receiving special opportunities to partner with Reading Made Delicious!

About Sarah

Sarah Travers is a primary school teacher with a Master’s in Education, a former online reading tutor and a mama to two little girls.

She helps families and educators use recipes for learning to read to make children’s reading journeys fun, purposeful and delicious.

reading made delicious - phonics, reading and early literacy in the kitchen

Check out the Reading Made Delcious Podcast for tips about Early Reading and Learning from Sarah and special guests.

Follow Sarah on Instagram @reading_made_delicious for inspiration to use recipes for learning to read.

Check out Sarah's website for more inspiration!

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