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Core Vocabulary at Home

Jan 28

I’m a huge fan of using core vocabulary when targeting communication with our early intervention kids.  Many of these children have a limited vocabulary, and parents are concerned about how to get their child to start talking. I always educate parents about core vocabulary. So, what is core vocabulary? According to the center for AAC and Autism, “Core vocabulary refers to the small number of words that make up >70-90% of what we say on a daily basis.”  (

The next question parents have is “How do I use core vocabulary at home?” I inform them that children learn best through what is motivating to that child, and all children love to play! So, here are 4 examples of using core vocabulary with one of my favorite motivators – bubbles!

  1. GO! I love using GO as a target word. To facilitate go,  one can provide a model by simply saying “bubbles go”.  A parent can also use a prompt by saying “ready, set, ____” (remember to give your child time to respond).
  2. MORE! Another one of my favorite core vocabulary words. More can be used in so many ways ( i.e. more drink, more eat, more play). When using bubbles, after blowing a few times, you can model “more,” and don’t forget to also use the sign as an extra modality for communication!
  3. TURN! Turn is a great core vocabulary word to incorporate. Think of all the possibilities (my turn, turn the page, turn on tv). One can use turn by “taking turns” when blowing bubbles (also great for joint attention).  Model to your child while pointing to yourself “my turn then blow bubbles.  Then your child can do the same.

These three core vocabulary words are just a few examples of how to incorporate communication at home.  When targeting these words at home, don’t forget to give your child examples of the target word by saying the word and performing the action associated with it. Make sure to positively reinforce any attempt at communicating. Please remember this may take time and multiple examples. Also, please give your little one enough time to respond!

Summer Calhoun, MS, CCC-SLP, specializes in early language disorders and articulation disorders at an interdisciplinary outpatient facility, Beyond Therapy for Kids, in Ridgeland, Mississippi.