Implementing core words in speech therapy is a widely-known, research-based practice among SLPs. Teaching these words to students with expressive language deficits is highly effective because:
- Core words are much more versatile than concrete nouns.
- You need fewer words to be an effective communicator when using core vocabulary.
- Because core words lend themselves to forming phrases easily, it creates more opportunities for spontaneous language and generalization.
- By not teaching core vocabulary, you could restrict further language development and limit the ability to communicate anything new.
When you begin implementing core words into your speech sessions, it might be a little overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you do this effectively? Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate core word vocabulary:
1. Word of the Week
One popular way to teach core words is by doing a word of the week. Essentially, you take one core word and practice it throughout the week over and over again with your students. You get teachers and staff on board and everyone reiterates the word in a variety of contexts.
2. Sensory Bins
In addition to using a word of the week, I love making sensory bins that center around that particular core word. It provides a multi-sensory approach to learning the word as well as multiple opportunities to practice it. We know that research shows that sensory play builds connections in the brain’s pathways, making this a really effective therapy tool in general.
3. Vocal Play
Practice saying the words in silly voices or unique ways. Say them loud, soft, like a dinosaur, like a pirate, etc. Pretend play with the words using toys. Act the words out. Use the volume setting on any AAC devices and let your students with alternative communication participate too!
I always try and choose a book that highlights the core word I am focusing on that week. It gets students to practice sitting and focusing on a book, which is a pretty essential academic skill. It also provides a unique context to practice the word again and again.
5. Songs and Videos
Simple kid songs and videos are a great way to engage students and help with recall. Did you know that music activates more areas of the brain than language does? Use that to you advantage and practice that core word vocabulary with a little music.
Example: Check out this song on YouTube for the word “help.”
I do include book and song suggestions for all of the core word targets in my sensory bin resources!
Now that you know several different contexts and ways to implement core words, we’re going to be talking about some specific research-based therapy strategies to help you while teaching them.
Be sure to head back here next week to dig deep into all my favorite strategies for targeting those core words in speech therapy!