Enterprise in the Special Education Classroom to teach Life Skills

My classroom incorporated an enterprise in the special education classroom to teach life skills. At the end of last school year, my classroom started the COUGAR CAFE. It was very successful in every aspect, so this school year I dedicated an entire class period to it.

What is the Cougar Cafe?
The cougar cafe was created to teach lifeskills in a realistic setting. We bake and cook things like chex mix, cup cakes, brownies, rice krispie treats and any food a high schooler might like. We sell the food to them. The money earned is used to fund the cafe and to provide my classroom with items used by the students every day. It is a win/win situation for all.

This is how it works:

Monday: Prepare Food for the Cougar Cafe during 7th period.
Tuesday: Sell the food during break. – practice measuring during 7th period
Wednesday: Prepare Food for the cougar cafe during 7th period.
Thursday: Sell food during break – practice measuring during 7th period.
Friday: Preparing tags for the bags – cutting, folding, and sorting labels

The Cougar Cafe teaches

  • reading a recipe
  • following a recipe
  • cleaning tables
  • washing hands
  • measuring
  • following directions
  • waiting turns
  • counting money
  • greeting
  • talking to customers
  • giving change
  • counting products to be handed to customers
  • advertising
  • cutting labels
  • filling bags
  • attaching labels to the bags
  • inventory
  • budget
  • check register
  • creating grocery lists
  • buttoning and unbuttoning (all of the students wear chef coats)

In the beginning I sent out a wish list with food items that we needed to start up the cougar cafe. All of the parents were very excited about the opportunity for their students to learn these life skills in a real life setting. We had plenty of food to start up the Cougar Cafe. Now we are able to send the Transition 2 program out to buy the groceries for us with the money earned.

On another note, the cougar cafe has helped to get the general education students to interact a lot more with the special education students. It has been amazing to see how the students are now greeted in the hallways by their peers.