Archive for the ‘Language & Literacy’ Category

What Are Core Words?


Have you ever slowed down and examined your speech? Which words do you use most frequently and which ones are absolutely essential in your day-to-day conversations?

Core words include a set of approximately 220 words that are very commonly used and applicable to all populations, places, topics and activities. Approximately 80% of the words we use in conversation will be core words, but most of them are used repeatedly, which is another reason why we refer to them as being “core” to language. Some core words can also be called “sight words” because they have to be recognized and learned by sight. For example, the words “eye” and “new” are nearly impossible for young readers to sound out using phonic rules, so they would require memorization by sight.

Language tends to become very complex over time so it is crucial that we help new learners set a strong foundation through core vocabulary. Once children become comfortable with using core words they can ultimately build on it by using tools like grammatical rules such as where and when to add tense or possessives. When students are able to identify and read all of the core words, they can read about 75% of words in any given piece of children’s literature. Some of the most successful ways to teach core words include consistency and repetition, exposure, and teaching through stories, music and visuals. Natural integration of core words in language produces the best outcomes because children learn quickest when they see others modeling language.

This is a sample page from the Proloquo2Go iPad app

This is a sample page from the Proloquo2Go iPad app

core words

This sample page of core words has color coded backgrounds to represent parts of speech.

It is also important that we entice communication and give the learner an opportunity to use core words when something motivates them. When a word is consistently used and repeated in conversation, the learner begins seeing the pattern of use and is eventually able to reproduce it without being prompted. Some of the first core words in English include “all done,” “help,” “want,” “more,” “it,” “who,” “what,” and “why.” Core words can also be quite challenging to sound out so it is important that teachers, therapists or caregivers spend time teaching children how to say, understand and apply them. For augmented communicators who struggle with speech, it is also helpful to provide an extensive list of high frequency core words on their communication device so they can point to words or visuals to better explain what they may want or need. Grade schools also do a great job with integrating core words into class curriculum so students can acquire fluency as they move up grade levels. Just remember: take things slow, do not overwhelm the learner but do not restrict their access to more words and provide as much support you possibly can for your learner to reach the pinnacle of their core language development.

For more information on how the use of core words empowers language contact us: and please visit us on FaceBook:

Posted by on March 4th, 2016 Comments Off on What Are Core Words?


FREE Speech Therapy Materials!

Thanks to, there are plenty of FREE printable materials to work on a multitude of different concepts with your child anywhere, anytime! Click on the links below to check out these fun, interactive games with your children (or clients!).

  • He Does, She Does Game: This game works on proper use of gender-specific pronouns.
  • Where Questions Game: This game will help you to work on speech and language skills, mainly matching the question to the “where” question.
  • Funny Faces Grammar Game: This FUN game works on building different faces while describing moods, possessive nouns, and many other speech and language skills.
  • Sequencing Game: This game includes working on skills such as sequencing and following directions. Included are sequencing from 5 steps to 9 steps.
  • Opposite Game: This game works on learning opposites and how they relate to each other.
  • Vocabulary Game: This game can be used in a variety of ways. Not only does this game work on building vocabulary, but you can also work on basic concepts, following directions, and answering questions.
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear Game: This game is used along with the Brown Bear, Brown Bear: What do you see? book. Use this game to develop speech and language using a carrier phrase, literacy skills, and reading skills.
  • Adjectives Game: This game will help children learn different vocabulary words as well as learning to describe items using their five senses!
  • Spatial Concepts Game: This game will help children learn spatial concepts such as behind, next to, in front of, on top, and so on. Very important concepts to learn!
  • When Questions Game: This game will help children learn how to properly answer “when” questions at varying difficulty levels.

Posted by on August 7th, 2014 Comments Off on FREE Speech Therapy Materials!


Marble Runs Teach Crucial Concepts!

Thanks to Schoolhouse Talk, we learn multiple ways that children can learn from such a simple toy, Marble Runs! You can find them online (click here for an 103-piece set off Amazon) or in toy stores. Schoolhouse Talk discusses ways to make playing with Marble Runs fun AND functional! Check it out!

  • Basic Concepts: talk about the colors of the marbles and the maze pieces; the number of marbles being used; count the marbles at the bottom of the maze; discuss the shape of the marbles; construct different shapes out of the maze; talk about which marbles were first and last; are the marbles going fast or slow?
  • Emerging Language Skills: Marble mazes are excellent because there is a definite start and a definite end, and it doesn’t take long for the marbles to reach the bottom. You will have lots of chances to elicit “ready…set…” and wait for your student to yell “GO!”. Marble runs are also the perfect opportunity for students to practice requests: more, please, my turn, more marbles, all gone
  • Turn-Taking and Pronouns: Some of my preschoolers have a behavior goal for turn-taking. Marble runs are perfect practice for this. We also get tons of opportunities to practice pronouns: my turn, your turn, we go at the same time, his turn, you do it, etc.
  • Prepositions: up, down, around, bottom, top, inside, through, first, last – they’re all covered here! (We work on this lots with our young ones at CLASS, Inc.!)
  • Following Directions: You can instruct your kiddos how to build the marble maze, or have them practice telling each other directions. Since the maze pieces are different colors and shapes (curved, straight, wheeled, etc), it’s perfect for adding describing words to your sentences: “Put the curved red piece on top of the short purple piece.”
  • Articulation: I have my articulation students practice their target sounds a designated number of times before they can shoot a marble down the run. Or they earn the marbles as we practice and enjoy sending them all down at once 🙂
Marble Run Example

Marble Run Example

Posted by on July 29th, 2014 Comments Off on Marble Runs Teach Crucial Concepts!


Visual Aids for Pronoun Practice

Does you child sometimes use “she” for “he”? Use these great visual aids for practice when reading books, telling a story, or having a conversation at the dinner table! Practice them out loud so your child can grasp the concept of correct pronoun usage!


Posted by on June 30th, 2014 Comments Off on Visual Aids for Pronoun Practice


Grammar Building Activity

There are many fun activities you can do with your child to build their grammar. Grammar can include activities such as correct spelling, word order, and of course, learning grammar concepts. Try a fun Scramble activity with your child to help learn proper sentence order, or to simply work on spelling (use words from their spelling lists that week!). Print out pre-made scrambles, like the ones below, or make your own! Have fun with it! Cut out the words and scramble them up, then read the grammatically correct sentence together. Include pictures as hints if needed. fall-word-scramble-spelling-autumn gg3

Posted by on June 4th, 2014 Comments Off on Grammar Building Activity


Try These FREE Learning Apps!

There are so many FREE apps that can help your child learn in an interactive and fun way! Try some of these with your child today and have some fun!

  • Animal Book – Line drawing that links to photos of real animals and says the name os the animal AND makes the sound.
  • Opposites – Touch a picture and pick its opposite.
  • Match It Up – Pick items that go together best.
  • Mobi Pizza – Make your own pizza, choose toppings, bake it, etc. Good for sequencing and vocabulary.
  • Where’s Puppy – Fisher Price Laugh and Learn; puppy comes out and identifies body parts when you touch them.
  • Kids Patterns – Cognitive pattern skills; fill in the patterns; preschool to kindergarten age type of tasks.
  • Verbally – Keyboard with a list of frequently used words and phrases ready to use. Word prediction as well.
  • Clean Up – Helps with categorization; drag photo items to the correct location (closet, basket, or toy box)
  • ABA Belong – Follow the verbal direction to touch the one that does not belong.
  • Together – Touch the item that goes together best with the photo on top.
  • Build It Up – Sequencing game that helps children learn how to organize or sequence objects.

Posted by on May 29th, 2014 Comments Off on Try These FREE Learning Apps!


Fun Color Learning Activities!

There are many activities that you can do with your children to learn there colors other than simply asking “What color is that?” Try some of these with your child today!

  1. Give them a certain color and have them find everything in the room that is that color.
  2. Fishing: Have you child fish or certain color of paper fish, using paper clips on the fish and a pole with a magnet on the end.
  3. Have your child toss a bean bag at colored squares and try to land on a color that you call out to them.
  4. While driving to a destination, the child could say the color of cars that pass on the road. This can also add a helpful activity to a long trip.
  5. Create a color collage! Have your child look through magazines and cut out pictures that are certain colors. Have a piece of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple construction paper to glue the different colors to.
  6. Make different color frosting with food coloring to spread on vanilla cookies. Have fun with the colors and make all different shades!
  7. Play “I Spy”
  8. In a small siploc bag, put a small amount of red liquid tempura paint inane carnet of the bag, and a small amount of yellow in the other corner. Seal the bag and let your child squeeze the bag to mix the color and create orange. Use different colors!
  9. Read the classic book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”
  10. Make a color memory game with index cards. Write the color on one match, and have the color on the other for reading.

Posted by on May 27th, 2014 Comments Off on Fun Color Learning Activities!



Reading is a lifelong skill that can be learned from an early age. Reading with children from birth can get them excited about the activity and provides valuable bonding time between children and their parents. It offers children a way to expand their imagination and as they get older, reading provides children an outlet for their creativity. Children who love to read are often less bored than their non-reading peers.

Children learn by example, and children will mimic the behavior of adults in the home who sit and enjoy a good book. The more parents read, the more likely children in the home will read. To increase reading interest, keep plenty of books in the home that are good to read for both children and adults. Make comfortable reading areas in the home for children that have food lighting and easy access to their favorite books.

As their language skills progress, children will be able to join in more with the actual reading, learning new words, and developing their overall understanding. It’s still great to make it as active and fun as possible, by taking characters, using funny voices, acting out scenes or using toys to act out parts of stories.

SO, how should we encourage our children to read?

Leap Frog gives us these ten suggestions for raising a bookworm:

  1. Expand children’s oral language
  2. Read several stories everyday to children
  3. Teach children rhymes and songs
  4. Support reading and writing development through children’s play
  5. Point at the words occasionally with you read with children
  6. Encourage your children to experiment with writing everyday
  7. Provide children a special area where they can experiment with print and books
  8. Be a literacy advocate by modeling reading and writing everyday
  9. Encourage children to notice print and look at how words are read and spelled
  10. Set up a time each day for reading

Read the whole article for more detail! Also check out these tips for Reading Rockets!

Posted by on May 22nd, 2014 Comments Off on Reading!


Asking Questions

Asking questions can be a tough task for a child with speech defects or language delays. Especially when it comes to the order of the words. Grammatically, they may be behind in what truly counts as a good question.

Carrie Clark explains “For many children with language delays, asking questions appropriately can be very confusing to figure out. As adults, we change the word order of a sentence when asking questions. For example, instead of saying “you do have three apples”, we would ask a question as “do you have three apples?” Often, children with language delays will miss this subtle word order shift and will simply ask the question without changing the word order. When they are asking questions, it may sound like “I can have one?” or “you are eating cookies?”. This can make their message difficult to follow and, if they don’t get the right intonational patterns, you may not even know that they’re asking questions at all.”

Carrie gives us three steps to think about when teaching our children about question-asking:

  • Step 1: Collecting an Inventory of Incorrect Question Structures – What type of questions is your child having trouble with? Yes/no questions? “What” questions? Take time to see where the break down occurs.
  • Step 2: Imitating and Practicing Correct Question Structures – Play a game or come up with an activity to work not he types of questions they are having problems with. This will give your child the opportunity to ask the question many times to get lots of practice!
  • Step 3: Correct in Conversation – Practicing question asking in a structured setting is different then asking then in conversation. After practicing the questions in an activity, when you child goes to apply them conversationally, make sure to correct them if they use it incorrectly, or let them know when they used it correctly to reinforce correct usage!

Posted by on May 15th, 2014 Comments Off on Asking Questions


Apps to Try!

Apps are a great way to develop language and social skills! Working on iPads is a very interactive way to learn with you children. Here are a few apps that you could download and try with your child!! Make some time every night to work on the iPad with fun drills and letter games! Enjoy!

  • abc PocketPhonics: Teaches letter sounds and practices letter writing.
  • Autism Apps: List of apps that are being used with and by people diagnosed with autism.
  • iTouchiLearn: Stimulates language development in children.
  • Touch & Say: Activities to promote social skills in children
  • Pocket Pond: Cause and effect activities.
  • Tap To Talk: Alternative communication program.
  • Touch Trainer: Cause and effect drills.
  • Starfall ABCs: Works on letter knowledge and individual letter sounds.
  • Pictello: Can add your own books and record your own voice reading the book.

Posted by on March 26th, 2014 Comments Off on Apps to Try!