TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘The Skin You Live In’!

March 15, 2021 by - 1 Comment

TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘The Skin You Live In’!
A- A+

We are back with lots of great core vocabulary resources in another edition in the TELL ME About It series. In today’s post, AAC SLPs Maggie Judson and Jeanna Antrim share ideas for language learning with the book ‘The Skin You Live In.’ Maggie and Jeanna are speech-language pathologists who work in the Assistive Technology Department for the Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative (BASSC) in southern Illinois. They are AT/AAC facilitators and provide evaluations, direct therapy, consultations, and trainings with school teams. Check out the video read-alouds using 3 different AAC apps, and their ideas for classroom activities, e-learning, supporting AAC learning at home, and more. Also, don’t miss their tips for dealing with communication breakdowns.

To read more about how they prepare for a TELL ME week and see resources that are based on other books take a look at their previous posts in the TELL ME About It series.

TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘The Skin You Live In’!

TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘The Skin You Live In’!

TELL ME About The Book

The seventh book in this new series is “The Skin You Live In” by Michael Tyler.  This book is at the top of our favorite list for So. Many. Reasons.  The rhymes!  The repeated phrases!  The illustrations are perfect for a picture walk-through! And, of course, all those core words!  Plus, it has such a lovely, empowering message that gives you all the feels and leaves you wanting to read it again and again.  So basically, it’s a perfect book to pair with TELL ME!

See below for the book focus for “The Skin You Live In”:

Book Focus:

  • Core Words (BOW WOW Words): DO, KNOW, COME, AGAIN, HAPPY
  • Additional Words (Tiger Talk Words): boy, girl, now, and
  • Concept Vocabulary: adjectives (tall, short, thin, sad, mad, weak, strong, special, different, same)
  • Book Concept: Print matches spoken words
  • Special Letters: u, g, h, f, i, s, b, l, e, r

TELL ME About Reading

Repeated Reading Focus: Different Media Platforms

We love occasionally using different media platforms during repeated readings because it gives us that repetition with variety that we know is so important to learning. Changing up your rereadings with videos or books on tape can help to keep students engaged and interested. Just make sure any ebooks you use are not heavy on animations or games, as this can “detract from rather than add to the interactions between adults and students during shared reading (Erickson & Koppenhaver, 2020, pg. 59)”.

One place to quickly find different, fun versions of a book is YouTube. You can often find read-alongs with the book’s author, and ‘The Skin You Live In’ is no different! Check out this great video of author Michael Tyler reading the book here.

Adaptation Idea: Simplify Text

Have a book you really want to use that is heavy on the text, making it overly challenging for your students to comprehend? Try adapting it by simplifying the text! You can simplify text by reducing the number of words on the page or reducing the sentences’ complexity. You can write the simplified text on a sticky note or index card and attach it to the page in the book. This simple adaptation can make a book more engaging, interesting, and accessible for your students.

Here are some of the different way you can simplify the text (Musselwhite & Hanser, 2018):

  1. break down compound and complex sentences
  2. use simpler vocabulary, heavy on the core words
  3. think through the background knowledge of your students
  4. clarify figurative language
  5. get rid of extra information

To learn more about text simplification, check out this blog post from the AAC Girls blog here.

TELL ME About Writing

Writing is a big part of a TELL ME classroom!  See below for ideas: 

Predictable Chart Topic

Title: I DO Lots of Things!

Sentence frame: I’m HAPPY when I DO ______.

FUNctional Writing Activity

Carryover the good vibes created from the book into your FUNctional writing this month with an AACtivity all about self-love! Use a mirror and add some symbols (we like I and MY) right to it to give your students extra visual support and support communication partners as they provide aided language input.  Have fun looking in the mirror, saying I and MY, and then doing some writing all about what we like about ourselves.  Looking in a mirror can be so fun and motivating for our students! TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘The Skin You Live In’!


Below are some specific ideas on how to implement “The Skin You Live In” in your therapy sessions and classrooms TELL ME-style!

Aided Language Input Tip – Communication Breakdowns

Providing aided language input is one of those instructional strategies you will find yourself doing over and over (and over!) again in a TELL ME classroom. One area that we like to provide aided language input for is how to repair communication breakdowns. We all have moments where we can’t think of the exact word we want or say something that wasn’t exactly what we meant. We love taking advantage of those opportunities to show our AAC users how to handle and repair communication breakdowns. One way we do this is to use the talk aloud strategy to teach our process of repairing a communication breakdown and why (e.g., “Oops, that was the wrong word! Let me fix that. The word I wanted to say is a place. So I am going to go to ‘places’ on my device and there is my word-YARD!”).

Different strategies to teach AAC users how to repair communication breakdowns:

  1. Spell the word – “the word I want to say isn’t on the device, so I will spell it on the keyboard”
  2. Identify the first letter of the target word – “the word I want to say isn’t in the device, but I know it starts with the letter M”
  3. Identify the category of the target word – “I can’t think of the word I want to say, but I know it is in the category of ‘clothing’, so I will look there”
  4. Identify the part of speech of the target word – “the word I want is an action word so I will use a ‘green’ word”
  5. Describe the target word – “I’m going to go to the ‘describing’ button, so I can describe the word I want to say”
  6. Identify another word that sounds similar to the target word – “the word I want to say sounds like the word IN”

Embedding Core into the Daily Routine – Outdoor Time

Outdoor time is typically a routine-based activity within the preschool classroom, making it a natural time to incorporate the target core words into different rote phrases. Having some predetermined scripts can support communication partners as they become comfortable targeting core words and providing aided language input.

Some examples:

  • DO you KNOW what time it is?”
  • “You DO?”
  • “Yes, it’s time to go outside AND play!”
  • “I feel HAPPY when I COME outside AND play!”
  • “You want to go down the slide AGAIN?”
  • “When you point to the slide that makes me think you want to go NOW!”

Data Collection – Use Your Resources!

Figuring out how to collect data that works best for you while giving you the information you need can sometimes feel challenging.  At the beginning of each school year, we always feel like we are trying to revamp our data collection system to make it easier and more effective!  One of our tried and true ways to feel confident and organized when it comes to data collection is to use our resources.

Virtual Learning Resource – Special Education With Pat

If you haven’t already subscribed to the Special Education with Pat YouTube Channel, you are totally missing out! We love sharing these videos with our families and school teams, especially during remote learning periods. Their videos highlight different routines and activities in a fun, engaging way with embedded visuals! These videos are a great way to introduce, review, and get extra practice and exposure to vocabulary words and experiences you target in your classroom or therapy sessions. Be sure to check out this resource and support the channel by subscribing!

BONUS Virtual Learning Resources!

  • Check out Jeanna’s @speechwithoutlimits additional virtual learning resources! DO Boom Deck, DO YouTube video, KNOW Boom Deck, KNOW YouTube video, COME Boom Deck, COME YouTube video
  • Check out Maggie’s @the.bookish.slp additional virtual learning resource! DO digital book activity

TELL ME at Home – Simple Shared Reading Tip: Nonverbal Print Referencing

While ‘nonverbal print referencing’ sounds like a super fancy and complicated strategy that is difficult to apply, don’t let the name fool you!  It is actually a straightforward, easy-to-use technique that will up your literacy game with little effort!  So, what is it?  It is simply pointing to letters, words, and other print features in the book as you read them. That’s it!  As you read, pointing to the text increases awareness of it, naturally drawing your child’s eyes and attention to the print, which helps improve “emergent readers’ knowledge regarding the forms and features of print (Erickson & Koppenhaver, 2020, pg. 58). It is an easy-peasy technique that you will quickly feel comfortable with and that pairs perfectly with all the other shared reading strategies you are already using!

Self-Reflection Tip – “Core Words are Introduced or Reviewed”

The TELL ME program is all about helping us as educators develop good AAC teaching practices and routines that we can implement when planning other lessons. But to do this, we have to reflect on how we are providing instruction.  Last month, we talked about using the Word Finder Feature to teach new core words and data tracking ourselves to keep tabs on the aided language input we provide.

This month, reflect on those suggestions with the question “core words are introduced or reviewed” from the fidelity checklists available in the TELL ME program.

After reflection, would you answer this question as:


If after thinking about the past month you answer this as SOMETIMES or RARELY, that’s okay! We all start somewhere! We encourage you to think through what changes you can make to your teaching practices and routines to support your classroom assistants as they develop their skills to actively facilitate student learning.

Because remember: self-reflection and receiving constructive feedback helps you plan for your next session and get better at providing TELL ME-style instruction!


Be sure to check back next month as we work through the TELL ME manual and share activities, teaching strategies, and implementation tips for the next book in this new series, “Where’s Spot?”!


Erickson, K,. & Koppenhaver, D. (2020).  Comprehensive Literacy for All: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities to Read and Write. Baltimore, MA: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Musselwhite, C., & Hanser, G. (2018, September). Text Simplification – Simple Rules for a Complex Process. Presented at the annual Closing the Gap Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Handout retrieved from

Aided Language Stimulation video – Icpsat:

You can purchase the TELL ME manual from the Attainment Company or from ASHA (

You can learn more about the program by watching the webinar TELL ME: AAC for the Preschool Classroom presented by Dr. Carole Zangari, available from Saltillo (

Check out the videos of us reading the book “The Skin You Live In” while providing aided language input:

Snap Core First

LAMP Words for Life

TouchChat with WordPower

Follow us on Instagram @basscAAC and subscribe to our YouTube channel (basscAAC) for more AAC implementation ideas!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed under: ,

Tagged With: , , , ,

This post was written by Carole Zangari

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.