Core Samples

April 29, 2013 by - 13 Comments

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Whether we’re working on a project, cooking with new ingredients, or doing something crafty, one of the things we find most helpful is examples. Seeing how other people have approached a situation can be informative and inspiring. Making communication displays for people who use AAC is no different. Most of us appreciate the opportunity to see what our colleagues have done.

We provided a number of examples of communication boards and books that are rich in core language in some of our earlier posts. Here are some of them, just in case you missed those posts.

  1. Kate Ahern’s Core Vocabulary in 3 Symbol Types (and Core Word Learning Book) via SlideShare

  2. Core language board with 20 PCS and 12 PCS by Yvonne Green via SET-BC

  3. PCS communication book (core and fringe) from the AT4All Wiki/Barbara Cannon

  4. PCS communication book pages in Boardmaker and PDF format by Polk County Public Schools FDLRS/ESE

  5. PCS Tabbed communication book by Deanna Wagner

  6. PCS tabbed communication book (young children), for elementary school-aged children, and HS students in PDF format by Jefferson Parish Public Schools

  7. Pixon Board by Gail Van Tatenhove

  8. Tri-fold PCS book from the AT Team at Orange County Public Schools (Florida)Core Samples

Some of you also asked us for our own boards to show how we arranged the 12, 24, and 36 core words we chose to use as examples in our April strategy posts. These sample boards are in PDF format.

These boards were made with EnableMart SymPrint from Claro Software. Do you have favorite core word displays? We’d love to hear about them.

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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Baila says:

    Hi! I think I’ve commented before and told you how much I love your website.

    Question: So when you use your core display, say of 12 words, you only use those words at the beginning for all activities, or do you tailor boards for various activities? I work in Early Intervention in Israel and the boards I use include words specific to the activity at hand (blocks, bubbles, etc)

    Thanks, Baila

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Thanks for your kind words and question, Baila. In most situations, we wouldn’t use activity-specific words (like blocks, bubbles) exclusively, but there are times when it makes sense to use them in addition to the core words. It depends a lot on the person’s individual goals, strengths, needs, etc. If I am working with a person who learns very slowly and does best with really concrete concepts, the goals might involve making requests. For some clients, I would stick with the core (e.g., teaching a generalizable want symbol). For others, I might focus more on choicemaking between preferred and non-preferred items. I’m not sure that helps much, but like anything else we do, the decision could go either way depending on what the learner is like.

  • Lesley says:

    Your website is fantastic! I am just learning the concept of using Core Vocabulary (we have always used PECS) and didn’t have a clue where to start. I am reading every single post and learning so much! Keep the information coming! Thank you!

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Thank you, Lesley! I am glad that you are challenging yourself in this way. PECS is wonderful for some kids, under some circumstances. It’s great to have other ideas of how to approach language teaching in kids with AAC needs. If you are a Facebook user, we’d love to have you come visit our page, We post AAC-related stuff a few times/day. 🙂 In any event, thanks for taking the time to read our articles and comment.

  • KatieSLP says:

    Hello! Have you ever taught core words to a PECS user? I realize this is “off book” in terms of the PECS rules; but curious if they could be combined. Thoughts? Thank you.

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Katie, I have transitioned kids from PECS to core vocab (on comm books/boards or SGDs/apps), but I can’t say that I have ever done a true core approach for kids within the PECS system. Obviously, there are SOME core words that work well with PECS, but PECS is generally a pretty noun-heavy system and very few core words are nouns (other than pronouns). It’s an interesting idea, though.

      • katiezeitgeist says:

        Thank you. During your transition from PECS to core, did you continue to allow requests from PECS while you taught core on the board/sgd? I have 9 students very successfully using PECS independently for requests and for commenting. However, commenting is only during structured tasks. The idea of core words is new to me, but I get it! My families are so happy with PECS and my teachers are implementing it across settings, so I need to be sensitive. I was thinking either 1. A separate core words board or 2. Core words on front of PECS book (but not big enough to grow much). Either way I can use aided input to teach core words, although this would be not be PECS approved on the book! But at the same time allowing the student to continue to make independent requests. My age range is 3-6 years, all nonverbal with ASD. How long does transitioning typically take? I cannot financially support 9 SGD at this time, but I could create picture boards. Thank you so much for any advice you can offer.

  • Jessica Preston says:

    Love all of the core posts here on PrAACtical AAC. Was wondering if you have done a recent round up of existing core vocab boards? Be there are tonnes more floating around now. Thanks again for your info

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Jessica, I haven’t but that is a GREAT suggestion. I will work on this as time allows. If you have links to any that you would like me to include, it would be helpful if you would reach out with that info. Either way, thanks for the idea.

      • Jessica Preston says:

        Thanks for the prompt I will let you know what I find Carole. I wonder if the ladies contributing to the ASF communication training series compiled a list prior to starting? I will post on their page for you and see what arises. Until then i will continue to refer people to this post as it still has great links.

        • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

          That would be wonderful, Jessica. I will try to work on this over the next week, so if you find anything I should include, let me know and I will add it to the list. It takes a village, right?!

  • Min Joo says:

    Hi! When you are making a communication board, how many words, in maximum, would you recommend to be adequate for early users?

    BTW your blog is amazing! keep up the good work thanks!

  • Laura Bouterse says:

    My son Austin is very clever now we got a aac communication device for him.

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