In my previous post, we discussed several different contexts and ways to implement core words. Let’s talk about some specific research-based therapy strategies to help you while teaching core words in your speech therapy sessions.
1. Explicit Instruction
- When you introduce a new core word, be sure to explicitly teach the word before expecting the student use it.
- MODEL how to use the word verbally, sign it, and use it on their device.
- Read a story that allows you to emphasize the word over and over. Sing a song or watch a video that emphasizes the core word.
- Write it out. Make sentences with the word using visual sentence strips.
- Talk about various situations in which you would use the word.
2. Active Participation
- Be sure and create multiple opportunities to practice the core vocabulary word and encourage active participation.
- Don’t let your little friend just sit there and listen. Hand over hand prompt the activities if needed.
- Find objects, characters, and activities that your child is interested in to keep them motivated. For example, if the student is obsessed with dinosaurs, put little dinosaurs inside of containers for practicing “open.”
- Choose multi-sensory activities to help them engage and increase recall of how to use that core word in context.
- Provide opportunities for using the word as an expressive communication tool in addition to receptive communication. Show the student the power that the specific core word can give them.
3. Repetition is Key
- Provide lots of repeated opportunities to engage with the core word. This builds pathways in the brain for understanding the use of that word.
- Encourage their teachers and families to use the core word as much as possible throughout their day (or week).
- Create activities that allow the student to see, hear, and use the word in a variety of ways.
- TIP: Use highlighter tape on their board or device to emphasize the word you are focusing on. This will help the students (and teachers) to access the word more quickly.
- When teaching a new core word, it’s important to provide feedback that will help increase the skill you are trying to teach.
- Be specific when you provide verbal praise. (i.e. Instead of saying, “Good job!”, try saying “Wow, you did great asking for help!”)
- Use an excited tone and vocal inflections. Show those kids that you are impressed!
- Don’t forget: There is built-in communication reinforcement for using the word in a natural setting. Communicating your wants usually gets you that want!
- Check out this post from Praactical AAC for more ideas.
I hope these strategies help you when teaching core words with your students!
Grab a free sample of my core word sensory bin pack for the word OPEN in my free resource library! Make sure you’re signed up to access!