14 Ways to Build Language Skills While Making a Pot of Soup

Do you need to make dinner tonight?  What if I told you could make dinner with your kids and build their language skills at the same time.  Sounds good doesn’t it?

Here are 14 ways to build language skills while you make a yummy and healthy vegetable soup.  These ideas will develop vocabulary, phonological awareness and communication skills.

One cooking experience with your child can build loads of language skills. Here are 14 ideas to use to help develop vocabulary, phonological awareness and communication skills.

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Let’s start with a book about making soup.  There are several books about soup that also include recipes.  One that we recently enjoyed was Soup Day by Melissa Iwai.  The story is about a mom and child who prep all the vegetables for making soup.

1. Before reading, take a picture walk through the book.  Encourage your child to name the vegetables in the book and describe what the characters are doing in each picture.

2. Read-aloud the story.  Your child benefits from listening to a fluent reader read.  Reading aloud is one of the best things we can do with our kids to help grow language.

3. Make connections.  Ask your child, “In this story they make soup together to eat.  What are some dishes we have made together?”


4. Have your child make a picture list of ingredients needed to make the soup.  When your child names an ingredient, encourage him or her to say the sound heard at the beginning of the word.  For example, mushroom begins with the /m/ sound.  Take your list to the store together.


5. Your child can “read” the list at the grocery store.

6. In the store, clap the parts of the each word as you pick up each ingredient.  The word “potato” would get three claps.

7. Play “I Spy” while shopping.  Give clues and have your child identify the correct item.  For example, “I spy an orange vegetable that is crunchy if eaten raw.”


8. Set all the ingredients on the counter.  Have your child pick up each one and describe how it feels, looks, smells and tastes.  You can also talk about shape and size.  All are great conversations to build descriptive language.

9. When it is time to prep the vegetables, give rhyming clues that get your child thinking.  For example, “We need an ingredient that rhymes with fettucini?”  That would be zucchini.

10. As you work with your child, sequence the steps.  Use words such as “first”, “next”, and “finally”.

11.  Brainstorm a list of other things vegetables can be used to create.


12. While the soup cooks, play with your child.  Talk about your cooking experience.  Pretend play.  Put a puzzle together.  As you play, talk with each other.


13. Have your child retell the process of making the soup and retell the story, Soup Day.

14.  Make up silly alliterations for each vegetable that was used in the soup.  Here is a fun example.  Mighty mushrooms might melt in my mouth.

Grab a book.  Grab a pot.  And, cook up some great language building.  Plus, you’ll get dinner on the table.

This week’s Early Childhood Education Team theme is fruits and vegetables.  Visit the links below for more great early childhood activities related to the fruits and vegetables theme.

But before you explore…

P.S. For more great book recommendations and  literacy ideas, we send out a weekly newsletter. You can see a sample here.  If you like what you see, sign up to receive it for FREE each week.

Fruits and Vegetables Beginning Sounds Sort by Learning 2 Walk
Fruits and Vegetables Beginning Sound Clip Cards by Mom Inspired Life
Describing Fruits and Vegetables-Learning About Adjectives by Capri + 3
Sorting Fruit and Vegetables by Color by Powerful Mothering
Potato Printing Tessellation by Rainy Day Mum
Fruit and Vegetable Hunt Farm Sensory Bin by Life Over C’s
Writing about Fruits and Vegetables by The Educators’ Spin On It

About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.


  1. what great ideas! AND i’ve been eyeing that book for a while too! 😀

  2. We love soup days – these are great tips for improving vocabulary and literacy with our little ones.

  3. What terrific ideas! I love cooking with my grandsons and your strategies can be applied to other activities as well. What fun ways to build literacy skills.

  4. What great literacy activities to go along with making soup. Our kids love “I spy” activities. We will have to try that out at the grocery store.

  5. Wanted to add Stone Soup and The Ugly Vegetables and Rainbow Stew to your list of soup picture books! Love this theme Jodie!

  6. SO many great ways to build language skills while making soup! I love everything about this!

  7. I love the idea of playing “I spy” in the grocery store! I love this whole process…from start to finish. Very well thought out!