If you give a Speech Therapist a cardboard box…

Chances are, she’s going to make it into a pretend bakery.


Recently, we read “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake,” by Laura Numeroff. This story is very similar to her classic “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” I love these stories because they are great for targeting story retelling. If you are feeling particularly ambitious after reading this, and you have a spare cardboard box, a DIY cupcake stand is a guaranteed hit among the 3-6 year old population.

Here is how we used this activity in speech…

Student made “cupcakes” (i.e., rolled play-doh into balls and placed them in cupcake liners).Image

Some goals that we targeted during this included:

-Verbal requests (“I need more blue/red play doh.”)

-Following directions (“Please make 2 blue cupcakes and 1 red one.”)

After we finished making the “cupcakes,” we brought them to the bakery! Students took turns being the “baker” and being the “customer.” The week before this we did a mini “community helpers” unit, so I even had a picture of a “baker” which I made into a necklace for the students to wear when it was their turn.


I used some extra cardboard to make a “cash register” and one of my students helped me make some paper “money.” While students bought and sold the cupcakes, we targeted:

-Conversational turn-taking

-Verbal requests

-Quantitative concepts (e.g., “He needs two cupcakes, if they are each $1, how much money does he need to give you?”)

-Color identification 

-Conversational repair 

  • I have several students working on conversation skills. I find that conversational repair is particularly tricky. To target this skill, I would pretend to be a very”silly” customer. For example, when a student told me I owed him $2, I might hand him two erasers. The student then had to politely repair the conversational breakdown.

This activity can easily be recreated in a classroom or home. Here are some materials you might need:

  • Cardboard box
  • Cupcake liners
  • Play-doh
  • Green paper (for money)
  • Markers/Scissors

This can also be turned into a pretend grocery store/fruit stand etc. Use your imagination and have fun!


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