Multisensory Approach to Core Vocabulary in Special Education

Core Vocabulary in Special EducationTwo years ago I was feeling a little bored and dare I say it... burned out. I went to a conference that Karen Erickson presented at and I discovered core vocabulary! Implementing core vocabulary instruction has made me so excited about teaching again and has sparked my creativity in the classroom.

Like most kids, my students with disabilities benefit from learning through a multisensory approach. My students love to learn through songs, games, hands-on activities, acting things out, visuals, modeling, etc. So this is how I teach and reinforce core vocabulary in my classroom. Here's a little explanation on how I teach and reinforce core vocabulary:

During circle time:
I teach core vocab. mini-lessons every day during circle time.
-We practice/ review the word by having all students verbally say it or finding it on their communication board or device
-We read a book that emphases the core word (We read the same book for the entire week. If you need resources for free core books, check out this post.)
-We practice the word in a hands-on way with games, activities, etc. (I plan 3-5 different activities to for the entire week, so we sometimes repeat an activity 1-2 times.)
-We watch a video that uses the core word. (We watch the same 1-2 videos for the entire week.)
-Note: If you want to see weekly videos with core vocabulary activity ideas, follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Core Vocabulary in Special Education

Core Vocabulary in Special Education

Across the day:
My paras and I do our best to verbally model the core words across the day in any way we can. I also try to embed the core words across our environment. Here are a few examples of how I do this, but check out this post if you want more ideas.

Core Vocabulary in Special Education

Core Vocabulary in Special Education

Core Vocabulary in Special Education

Core Vocabulary in Special Education

In literacy:
-We keep core boards on student tables and reinforce the core words whenever we can. You often run into core words when reading and you can just point it out in the heat of the moment! You can also regularly reinforce words during reading by saying, "Let's turn the page." "Do you want me to read more?" "Should we keep going?"

Okay, now for the fun part! Here is the chart I've created with activity ideas and videos for every core word!

 Core word:
Activity Ideas: 
 Song/ Video Ideas:
-Play "I spy" with colors
-Play with a toy and prompt students to say, "I do it"
-Practice compliments/ commenting by saying stuff like "I think you're silly/ funny." "I think you're pretty." etc.

-Practice saying "like" and "don't like" by showing kids different objects, toys, etc.
-Put "like" picture cards or word cards around the room and have students do scavenger hunt for the words
-Play an animal game and have students roar like a lion, oink like a pig, jump like a frog, crawl like a crab, etc.
-Play a song or video and have kids say if they "like" or "don't like" it 

-Practice social phrases like "not a problem!"
-Put objects in the wrong place and say "Oh, NOT there!" 
-Have kids play with a toy or do an activity and have them say if they liked it or NOT

-Practice requesting toys, objects, or snacks with picture cards, verbally or assistive tech. Have kids make the entire sentence or fill in the blank "I want ___."
-Show kids action picture cards and have them request an action like, "I want to jump." or "I want to skip." and then do that action with them.

-Put desired objects in containers or ziplock bags and have students request help opening them
-Give them something they aren't able to do and prompt them to request help!

 -Show kids an objects and ask them "what is IT?" or "what color is IT?" and have students respond "IT is ___." 
-Show students something they desire and say "Do you want IT?" 
-Show students a video and prompt them to say "watch IT." 
-Hide something in a container or somewhere in the classroom and say "find IT."

-Give students a small amount of something (food/ snacks are great!) and ask them, "Do you want more?"
-Have students practice requesting more of something (game, toys, music, etc.).

-Show students objects and have them point to things that are different.
-Talk about different ways students are different (hair color, eye color, likes/ dislikes, gender, etc.).
-Give them a toy/ activity and after a few minutes of playing, ask them if they want to play with a different toy 

-Talk about who is at school and who isn't at school.
-Ask students questions like, "Who likes pizza?" "Who wants to play?" "Who feels happy today?"
-Show students pictures of classmates and say, "Who is that?"

-Do sorting activities with pictures of boys and girls
-You can talk about what students are wearing and say, "He's wearing a blue shirt. She's wearing a pink shirt."
-Do gross motor activities and talk about what students are doing. You could say, "She is jumping. He is spinning."

-Practice showing different emotions on faces and prompt kids by saying, "You smile!" or "You frown."
-Have students do different actions and say to kids, "You run." "You hop!" etc.
-Do a little activity (like a puzzle) and then prompt students by saying, "Can you do it?"

-Ask students, "Where is __? (enter name)" and have students point to the student you say.
-Work on receptive skills by giving students pictures and asking students questions like, "Where do you swing?" "Where do you eat?"
-Have teachers or students hide and say, "Where did ___ go?!"
-When looking at books/ stories, ask students where pictures in the book are.

-Play with balloons or paper airplanes and say, "Up, up, up!"
-Turn the music down and prompt students to ask you to turn it up. 

on, in 
-Have students practice putting things in and on containers, tables, etc.
-Turn lights and toys on
-Have kids put their hands in and out of the their pockets

-Work on receptive skills and tell kids, "Show me where __ is."
-Show students pictures of themselves and other kids and have them say, "That's me!"
-Play dress up and have them put on different outfits/ hats

-Have students make funny faces
-Have students make art projects or recipes
-Have students make music with instruments
-Have students make a Mr. Potato Head

-Put objects in a box/ bag and have students take the object out and ask them, "What did you get?"
-Set something near students and say, "Will you get that for me?" and prompt them to hand it to you.

-Have students look through kalediscopes
-Show students funny videos to look at
-Play a game where you say, "Look at __ (enter name)," and have students look at different teachers/ peers
-Send students on a scavenger hunt and have them look for different things in the classroom/ school

-Ask students:
"What is your name?"
"What do you want to do?"
"What did you do this weekend?"
"What's your favorite color?"

-Help students make a need vs. wants chart with pictures
-Give student a toy that doesn't work (you can take the batteries out!) and make them say, "I need help!"
-When doing crafts or assignments, have students say they need help. 

are, is
-Put things in a bag/box/bucket and have students take the objects out and tell you what it is

-When getting ready for treat or snack, ask students, "Do you want some?"
-During an art activity, give all the materials to one student and have the other students ask, "Can I have some?"

-Have students put objects in different places.
-Have students practice putting their shoes/socks on

-When it's time for the entire group/ class to do something, say comments like, "It's time for all of us to go to art."
-When cleaning up, tell students to put all the toys away

this, that
-Play with a fun toy in front of students and then say, "Oh, do you want this?"

-When doing a fun game/ activity you can say, "This is so fun! I don't want to stop!"
-Remind students, "Don't forget to do your homework!"

stop, go
-Make toy cars/ trains go and stop
-Play red light, green light and practice using the words go and stop
-Play music chairs and use the words go and stop
-Have students tell you "go" to turn a video/ song on

-Do a part of an activity (like a puzzle) and then hand a part to a student and say, "Now you do it."
-Work on receptive skills and prompt students, "Do this!" while doing different movements.

-Play simon says ("When I say...")
-Show students a glimpse of new toy and say, "When should we play with it?!"

-Practice using the word finished when taking turns
-Practice using the word finished after snack and meal time. When a student is done eating say, "Are you finished?"

Help! I can't find a video for finished! :-0
-Model the word over by playing with trains and having them go over bridges
-Start a game/ activity on the other side of the classroom and say, "Hi friend! Come on over and play with me!"

-Practice taking turns with a fun game or activity
-Turn the lights/ music/ or video off and on
-Turn around in a circle
-Make spinning toys turn

-Hide fun objects in boxes, envelopes, cabinets, etc. and have students open them to see what's inside
-Have students open and shut their eyes

-Do part of a puzzle and say, "Can you do it?"
-Play basketball and say, "I can do it!" as you shoot hoops

I hope this helps you with your core vocabulary instruction!

If you need printables for a large core board, mini-communication boards or mini-posters with implementation ideas, then check out this huge core vocab for a year bundle on TpT.

Core Vocabulary in Special Education