PrAACtical Ideas: AAC Core Vocabulary Practice for Workshops and Inservices

January 19, 2016 by - 4 Comments

PrAACtical Ideas: AAC Core Vocabulary Practice for Workshops and Inservices
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  • Doing a training or workshop on core vocabulary?
  • Looking to help a team get more fluent in AAC modeling?
  • Teaching an AAC course to graduate students?

There are lots of you out there spreading the word about AAC, core vocabulary, and aided language input. Whether you are doing an informal training, presenting a workshop or teaching a class, you may be interested in giving the participants some hands-on practice with core words. If so, here’s a fun activity to help get them engaged.

Get ready for…Battleship, AAC Edition!

PrAACtical Ideas: AAC Core Vocabulary Practice for Workshops and Inservices

Battleship is a barrier game in which two players cannot see each other’s game boards. The game boards consist of identical grids, labeled with players placing their battleships somewhere on the board. They take turns calling out coordinates to find and sink one another’s battleship. You can learn more about how to play the game and see the game boards here. Teachers have adapted Battleship to give their students practice in lots of different subject areas. The inspiration for the AAC Edition came from a post at Teach Beside Me, a homeschooling blog, that discussed a DIY version of the Battleship game that was created to practice the periodic table of elements. You can see that post here..


  • Grid-based communication boards
  • File folders
  • Permanent Marker
  • Laminator
  • 2 red dry-erase markers
  • 2 green dry-erase markers


  • Print 4 copies of a communication board, such as one of these core language boards  
  • Turn the first file folder so that the fold is at the top, allowing it to open from bottom to top
  • Open the file folder and attach a copy of the communication board to the top of the file folder
  • Attach another copy of the communication board to the bottom of the file folder.
  • Add labels down the left axis. Starting at the top, use a marker to label each row with a letter in alphabetical order (e.g., A through J for a 10-row communication board)
  • Add labels across the top axis. Starting at the left, use a marker to label each column with a number (e.g., 1-12 for a 12-column communication board)
  • Repeat with the second file folder
  • Laminate each folder to make it easier to re-use.

Setting Up the Game

  • Open the file folders from bottom to top so that each player can see his/her own but not the opponent’s communication boards.
  • Position the folders back-to-back and use a paperclip to keep them together as shown in this post.
  • Each player has a lower communication board and an upper communication board.
  • Before starting the game, each player uses a dry erase marker to circle 5 cells on the communication. These are their ‘battleship’ targets.
  • Each player needs both a red and a green dry-erase marker.

Playing the Game

  • The first player fires a shot by calling out a letter and number (i.e., the coordinates). The second player then checks that cell on the lower communication board and says ‘hit’ if it is circled and ‘miss’ if it is not circled.
    • An alternative, is to call out the word in the cell instead of the coordinates. Either way, the players get more and more familiar with what is on the board and where it is.
  • The upper board is used to mark the shots. To keep track of the guesses, players mark the cell with red for ‘hits’ and green for ‘misses.’
  • When a player’s ‘ship’ (cell) is hit, he/she announces that that particular battleship was sunk.
  • Take turns until one player has lost all of his/her ‘ships’.

Battleship AAC Edition is a light-hearted way to get people more familiar with the layout and vocabulary on communication boards. Do you have hands-on activities that you use in your AAC trainings? We’d love to hear about them.

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This post was written by Carole Zangari


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