Disclaimer: I am by no means a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist. HOWEVER.  I have the pleasure of working with an amazing one at my school as well as some outside language gurus.  I’m also constantly researching and listening to podcasts.  With all the amazing information out there, I’ve recently been incorporating as much related core language into my lessons as possible. While I work with three-year olds and everyone can use the language, these ideas can easily be adapted to other grades.  You might have to find a different app or more age appropriate visuals, but the concept is the same. 

Currently, we are working on a Community Workers theme which has been so much fun (especially for my vehicle loving boys)! To keep with the community worker theme, I recently created a vehicle board, hid some Toobs mini vehicles in some kinetic sand and paired everything with our school core board. I focused on single core words such as: play, go and see.  For example, the student finds a school bus I would say, “Wow a school bus, make it GO” or “play school bus”, “see school bus”.  Recently I listened to an excellent podcast by Rachel Madel about how many times we get stuck in an “I want” phase.  I want cookie, ipad, etc.  There are many things we can WANT and it’s easy to not truly generalize core words. Some of my other learners worked on longer phrases such as, “I see school bus” “Play school bus, make it go”, “I see a RED firetruck”.  I also loved this activity because it works on the ABLLS skill of matching objects to pictures!  You could extend even more with other learners and ask WH questions such as, “where do we find a fire truck, who drives a firetruck?” The possibilities are endless, and you want to remember to just model model model and HAVE FUN! Stick anything in a box of beans or sand and it creates immediate engagement!


Other Core Activity Ideas!

I took the level one language arts vocabulary pictures and made them into larger cards and stuck them into a sensory bin. With this idea you can work on identifying the noun, either expressively (student says noun) or receptively (teacher says find the eraser).  You can work on categorizing the cards once they are all found, discuss the function, sort them, use Core words, “I see an eraser!”.  Again, endless ideas!

Play time

Recently I have been taking my language lessons to the floor.  I took the dump truck and our large core board, and we worked on putting blocks “in” and dumping them “out”.  I would occasionally take the truck away and model “play again”, and then we would make the truck “go” and “stop”.  I have a few friends that LOVE the play house and have goals to model play behavior and ask others to play.  In order to do that, they have to learn to communicate!  Asking a peer, “Want play?”  and then showing them how to use the pieces is so important.  We practice, “open” with the doors and the plastic play people.

Favorite Games and apps

My love for the Lakeshore “Building Language Lotto” game is deep.  So many skills, and again that basic ABLLS object to picture matching skill.  I have a student who we have been working so hard on coming to the table to complete a task.  When I pulled out this game, I expected him to run off with the pieces and not truly engage.  The first time we ever used it he sat with me and matched ALL SIX MATS.  Absolutely amazing.  There are two different levels, one with the pictures as a guide and the back with no pictures, just the category.  Again, we use the core board in many different ways.  You can practice simply putting the objects “on” the board and taking them “off”.  You can expand into short phrases, “I have octopus” and even work on categories.

Next, these apps I found again through a podcast with Rachel Madel. They are a part of the Peek-a-boo series and I’m addicted!  I bought all five (not ashamed).  We work on “play”, “open doors”, “close doors”, “I see a brown horse”.

Finally, if you have a subscription to Boardmaker Online, you have access to these Core Books! You can print them or project onto a board!  We read them as a group in circle time and then work on them during small group time.

The possibilities with core words are endless!  Make it fun and engaging and you will be so excited with the response! Happy Core-ifying!


Gina Russell, B.S , M.Ed

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