Susan Berkowitz - speech-language pathologist | aac consultant | serving san diego & surrounding counties



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10 weeks to communicating with 40 core words

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*** Updated 2019 ***

This resource provides a variety of teaching activities and strategies to teach the early 40 core words. Use of core vocabulary words has been shown to provide AAC users with the vocabulary they need to serve most of their communication needs.

The researchers who’ve developed the Developmental Learning Maps (DLM ) have identified a basic core of 40 words that are a beginning word set to meet the needs of emerging communicators.

The activities for teaching use of core words in this resource are similar to my other AAC implementation Activities and Games for a Year of Core and Teach Me Core Words resources.

I have provided both suggestions for using core words in every day routines and activities, as well as activities to simulate other real-life activities that you may not have access to within your intervention setting or classroom.

There are 4 target core words per week (although not presented in the same 4-word groups as developed by the UNC-Chapel Hill group), planned out over 10 weeks.

For each week of 4-words there are 5 days worth of activities for implementing/teaching them.

Core words used are:

look, this, is, mine
I, want, like, it
you, have, more, different
not, where, help, go
he, can, do, that
finished, put, need, stop
get, here, don’t, open
turn, are, some, she
what, in, all, on
who, over, up, when

You may need a different pace for your students, and that is certainly fine.

✯ Move at a pace that works for the students you are working with; making sure to always presume competence, provide maximum opportunities for genuine communicating, and use the least intrusive cues and prompts possible.

✯ Consistent partner use of Aided Language Stimulation is crucial.

  • The words are provided on large cards (approximately 4.5 X 3) for use in the classroom, as well as on a complete 40-location communication board.
  • Each week you will get a small interactive book to read with the student(s) on Day 2 that uses those words. When possible, act out the statements in the book in real time, giving a context with real objects and people.
  • For Day 3, there is an environment hunt; sort of a ‘hide and seek’ for examples of the symbols. If possible, print out the small symbols on sticky-back or sticker paper. Otherwise, just use tape.
  • For Day 4, there will be a suggested game, toy, or activity for practicing the words in a context.
  • For Day 5, there will be a game or activity that provides decontextualized reinforcement/practice of the words; such as a board or card game.
  • The 40-location communication board and the larger symbol cards are also provided in high contrast bright red/yellow for students who might have cortical vision issues.

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