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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hot Stoves- Blind or Sighted--Teaching Tricks

I always think about the tricks I use for teaching the blind and realize almost all the same techniques work great for sighted people too. How many sighted people have placed their hand on a burning stove? Yep, me too! LOL! We are a funny bunch of human beings.

As I take my students into the kitchen, the first thing we do is feel EVERYTHING with it off. They feel every burner, or flat cooking surface, all dials, open oven and pretty much do everything but climb inside. They need to feel every corner, all the racks and pull them out and in, feel what they will need to clean on the bottom when something spills over. This exercise relieves their fears immediately. Yes, food will spill over and YOU will have to clean it. They practice using oven-mitts while pulling the racks in and out of the oven. Then they practice with heavier dishes so they can get the idea of how much harder the rack is to pull out with weight on it. All with the stove off! Same thing for the burners, they lift different sizes of pans of water onto and off the burners.

They turn on the burners one at a time, so they can see which dial goes with which burner. They hover their hand above the burner. If I have a scared and reluctant child, I have them put that oven-mitt on their least dominant hand, touch the burner and hover with non-mittted hand to get the idea of distance between the heat and their hand. We do this with each burner and this takes some practice. Once again, I relieve their fear of being burned and tell them, "You most likely will get burned if you are cooking."

What does not kill us does make us stronger. How can we pass knowledge along, good and bad, without experience? If you are going to experience life, you will be injured along the way. Oh yes, I teach first aide too--smile

After they prepare an item to bake, and need to place it in the hot oven, I have them place their least dominant hand on the side of the opening into the oven, then slide it down onto the rack, so they know where the pot is going to be placed. Then their dominant hand places the pot on the rack and slides it in. When done, using the same method of placing their hand on the side of the opening of the oven, down by the rack so they can get their bearing and support themselves, then with the dominant hand joining the least dominant hand, they slide the rack out with the dish of food. The other hand reaches for the dish and they easily lift the dish of food out and place it on the stove. Bend over, push rack in, lift door up and they have just baked their first food item in an oven. The oven-mitt is essential at first because they will touch hot surfaces and if the mitt covers their whole hand, then they will not be burned and the fear level goes down tremendously. If the child is afraid, they will tentatively do something and are more likely to make errors, such as dropping the dish because they fear getting burned or other silly things we humans do when afraid.

By using the method of them touching everything when it is cold and getting the idea of place, position and heat, the fear starts to wane and cooking begins to be more of a part of their life.

I even had one student who became a great cookie baker. When her sisters would come over, they always would ask, "How did you get these cookies so perfectly round and baked?" She told me this story and of course, after mixing the batter, she used her hands to form the perfect round ball, flattened it with her hands and placed it on the baking sheet. She knew her oven (oh yes, side note, 350 degrees is not the same on every oven, so get to know yours) and knew the exact time to cook them, because of experience and lots of practice her cookies were delicious.

Good articles to read on this subject:
Cooking Without Looking"….for Kids
A huge list of other cooking ideas

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