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Our word of the week is LIKE! This is a particularly wonderful word. “Like” is a word we can use to comment about what we think. “Like” and “not like” are powerful ways to comment.

Students with complex communication needs are almost always taught to request; “I want _____.” While “I want…” is an important phrase, it is very limiting if we *only* teach students to request things. Communication involves more than getting what you want! We tell each other what we think (commenting), we say what we don’t want (protesting), we identify what we are experiencing (labeling). The word “like” is an entry into commenting, which is one of the pillars of language use.


Our book this week is a newer book, and deeper than most of the books I use. Every page has the sentence “I like _________” or “I don’t like ____________”. The last word of the sentence is something that western children often play with or enjoy – shoes, cars, bricks – and the spread on each page features a privileged child playing with the item on one side, and an underprivileged child performing child labor with the item on the other side. It is a thought-provoking look at childhood in different parts of the world, and a reminder that every child has the right to play, to receive an education, and to have a life of dignity. The last pages of the book have information about poverty and child labor, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


“like” in American Sign Language

At home, model the word “like” any time you experience something pleasant! You can use any modality to model “like” (picture symbols, manual sign, words).

  • Foods: I like cereal. I like coffee. I like eggnog. I like cookies. I like ice cream. I like carrots (really!).
  • Toys: I like legos. I like my teddy bear. I like my iPad.
  • Activities: I like jumping. I like watching movies. I like swimming. I like reading.
  • Places: I like my house. I like the park. I like the gym. I like school. I like Starbucks.
  • People: I like grandma. I like my dog. I like my teacher. I like my friend. I like you!

What do you like?



K is for KICK! And yup, this is another word that is not actually a CORE word. “Kick” is a fringe vocabulary word, but one that lots of students need to know. Kicking is an action that lots of students enjoy, and (unfortunately), sometimes students will kick at inappropriate times. We need the word so that we can talk with students about when they can kick, and when they cannot kick.

Just like JUMP last week, kicking is a fun and important gross motor activity! Our students should be moving their bodies all day long!

Students can kick leaves!


Students can kick a ball!


Students can kick in the pool!


Here is the ASL sign for “kick”:


ASL – “kick”

I didn’t find any good books focusing on “kick” for this week, so I ended up making my own on Boardmaker Online. If you have a subscription, you can view/read/play it here.

I can kick screenshot

How will you practice kicking this week?

J is for JUMP!


“Jump” is another fringe word, but a very fun and engaging fringe word. Students in school may be told to jump during PE, or it may be something that is fun for them to do, and to tell others to do. Teacher Norma has a trampoline in her classroom, because many students need to jump as a sensory activity.


“jump” in American Sign Language

There were TWO books featuring “jump” that I found this week. They are both awesome!


The book “Jump, Frog, Jump” by Robert Kalan has the recurring phrase “Jump, Frog, Jump!” on every other page. It is a fun story about a frog escaping capture by a multitude of other animals, and then eluding children as well. So fun!


The second book “Jump!” by Scott Fischer also featured a frog, who is startled and JUMPS because of a cat, who JUMPS because of a dog, who JUMPS because of a crocodile… you know how this one goes. It is another fun book, with many repetitions of the target word to give lots of practice.

On YouTube, there are many kids songs that involve jumping, such as the classic “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”

Or this one, if you want to go crazy with it stuck in your head.

And for my ’90s friends… you knew this was coming.


ASL sign for “in”

The word IN is a very important preposition. It is one of the basic concept words I often work on with students, and a word I have written about before. It is one of the top-10 CORE words, because it is so functional, and combines with so many other words.


Where is the boy? IN bed!


IN is a CORE word because it is multi-functional. At home, you can model IN by talking about what is IN a box, IN your fridge, IN your purse, or IN a backpack. Students can get IN a car, IN the bathtub, or IN bed. Food goes IN your tummy, and clothes belong IN the closet. Use whatever communication your student uses to practice the word IN all over the house!


My main book this week is “Better Move On, Frog!”, which is an oldie-but-goodie by Ron Maris. In the book, the frog wants to go IN a hole. He goes around the yard, but finds out that all the holes already have animals IN them! He finally finds a pond where he can go IN and live, so the story has a happy ending.


A new favorite for me is the book “IN” by Nikki McClure. Her illustrations are fascinating, and the entire book is talking about things IN other things on every page. It is a bit busy for students who are easily visually distracted, but I just love it.

How will you practice IN this week?


HELP in American Sign Language

HELP is another CORE word that is not as common, but is highly functional and important. We are focusing on HELP this week in Teacher Norma’s classroom.

There are many ways to practice “help” in everyday life. Students may need help during their normal routines – help getting dressed, help eating, help opening, help getting something out of reach – the possibilities are almost endless. Our students will need help for lots of activities. When they need help, we need to HELP them to learn to ask for it by having their AAC available (on the table, in our hands, on the floor next to them, etc). We need to know where the HELP symbol is located, so we can quickly model it. If our students are using signs, we need to model the sign “help” right at the moment when they need the help.


But students aren’t always the ones who need help. Kids can participate in family life by helping their parents or siblings with chores or activities around the house. If adults learn to ask “help me”, they can model how to ask for help for themselves, and allow their children to learn how to participate and feel proud of their contributions to the family. Kids could help:

  • Preparing meals
  • Setting the table
  • Cleaning up toys
  • Feeding the pet
  • Putting dishes in the dishwasher
  • Putting away clothes
  • Carrying groceries to/from the car
  • And much more!

The book “I Can Help” by David Hyde Costello has many opportunities for students to see/use the word HELP. Every page has an animal in trouble, and another animal helping them out.

For slightly older students, the book “The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand” is a nice read-along book. It talks about helping, and how to participate in a family. You can watch it on YouTube here:

G is for GO!


“go” in American Sign Language

The word “go” is a CORE word that has many different uses. It can be used to talk about going places – we go to school, go home, go to lunch, go to recess. During play it can be used to talk about anything that moves – balls, children, trucks, cars, dogs… Almost everything can GO!


This is one of my new favorite books. The big, green monster slowly appears as you turn the pages to reveal new body parts. Once he is all there, you tell each body part to “go away!” and he slowly disappears again.


I made a Boardmaker Online talking book, using the phrase “Let’s Go to the _________” on every page. If you are a Boardmaker Online subscriber, you can access the book here.

CORE alphabet GO

Go learn some CORE words! Go, go, go!

F is for FINISH! Many of my students are working on “all done” in place of “finish,” but either way, this is a very important concept.

Finish is an important word for students to learn to help them transition from one activity to another. It lets them know that what they are currently doing is over, so they need to change gears into the next activity. Teachers and staff can use “finish” or “finished” to help prepare students for these transitions.



Finish is also an important word for students to use, to tell teachers and parents when they want to be done with an activity. Students need a way to appropriately “protest”; to tell other people “no” in a pro-social way. When students don’t have protest vocabulary, they may end up throwing, hitting, or screaming instead. We need to honor their right to tell us when they are tired of something by providing vocabulary for students to express these feelings and desires.


Any mode of communication (word/sign/picture symbol) is an acceptable way to communicate “finish.” Students learning CORE words often need multiple avenues for learning, and may do better with one more or another. Using *any* form of communication increases a student’s future potential to use communication of all kinds, so encourage students to use whatever mode of communication works best for them!


“Finish” in American Sign Language

You can work on “finish” at home using any activity that has multiple steps. Cooking, coloring, or craft projects all have steps that you “finish” before moving on to the next step. Any activity, actually, will have an end-time, and using “finish” to signify the end of activities is a great way to model the word.

You can also work on “finish” by anticipating times that your child may want to be done with an activity, and providing an icon or model of the word, so they can use it to get out of something they don’t like. 🙂  Make sure to provide “finish” at an authentic time, and also at a time when the activity *can* end the moment the child wants it to end (so not while walking across the street, for example). Also be sure to honor the child’s request to finish *immediately*, not when you feel it should end. When teaching “finish,” we need to make sure to give the word full power, and let students tell us when they are done. Once they know the word, then it is okay to have them wait if it’s not the “right” time to be done with an activity. When teaching a new word, honor it immediately whenever possible.


For students who have more verbal skills, the book Let Me Finish by Minh Le is a nice support. The boy in the book just wants to finish reading his book, but he keeps getting interrupted! It’s a great book for book lovers, and also uses the word “finish” multiple times.

I’m finished!

The CORE Alphabet word this week is EAT!


“EAT” in American Sign Language

Actually, “eat” is not a CORE word. It is a fringe vocabulary word, because it is not in the most frequent words that we use in our everyday conversation. BUT… it is a very important fringe word nonetheless. Students need to be able to tell us they want to eat, and we need to be able to tell students to “Eat your _____”. Words relating to basic body needs are high priority.

There are tons of opportunities in everyday life to model the word “eat”.

  • Before snack or mealtimes: “It’s time to eat!”
  • When you know a student is hungry: “What do you want to do?” (offer AAC with EAT prominently visible)
  • While eating: “I am eating.”
  • While student is eating: “You are eating.” “Eat your _________” “Do you want to eat __________?”

Puppet games, where students give items (food or non-food) to a puppet to “eat” can be riotously fun. 🙂


I also made a Boardmaker activity with the question “What do we eat?” and a food/non-food option. Students choose on every page which thing they can eat. It is in the Ms Petersen SLP Boardmaker group.

CORE alphabet EAT

And then there’s YouTube, with all of the eating-related videos, like Cookie Monster EATING cookies!

Here’s a playlist of Cookie Monster eating cookies, and babies eating cake!

Our CORE word this week is Different, for the letter D! Different is an important word because it can be used to let adults know if a student doesn’t like the toy/food/activity they are doing, and they want to have/do something else. Different is also useful to let students know when there is a change in the schedule, or when things are not going to happen as they expect.


“different” in American Sign Language

There are lots of ways to practice the word different. One way is with objects, such as counting bears. One of these bears is different. Which one is it?

counting bears different

Sesame Street has a recurring song about thing being different. Here is one clip from YouTube. There are many more if you search for them!

Here is a YouTube playlist of read-aloud books, and other clips, using the word DIFFERENT.

There are also tons of worksheets that focus on finding the thing that is different, like this one:



“come” in American Sign Langauge

This week we have focused on “come” as our word for the letter C. It is not one of the top-40 CORE words, but it is very important for minimally verbal students (and all students) to understand the direction “Come here” or “Come with me” or “Come back!”. We use “come” in directions to students multiple times per day, and those directions are often very important for safety.


Come Back, Ben was my favorite book discovery for practicing “come.” Every page has the sentence “Ben’s balloon went up. ‘Come back, Ben,’ said __________.” So many opportunities to practice “come”!


Come Along, Daisy! was the second book that we used to practice “come.” Daisy is a duckling who wanders away from her mother. Her mother tells her to “come along, Daisy!” She gets lost (of course), and then she is found (of course!).


Can I Come Too? is one that we didn’t use in our class, but it would be great for students with more verbal skills. The word “come” is featured on every page, but there is more text, which requires stronger receptive language skills to comprehend. It is a very sweet story about animals going on an adventure together.

Here is the ASL sign for “come”. 

Here is a YouTube playlist featuring read-aloud books that frequently use the word “come”.