Monday, September 21, 2015

AAC & Core Vocabulary {Playing with a Toy Toaster}

Using core vocabulary with AAC users during your speech therapy session is an efficient and simple way to help build language in emergent communicators.

Since core vocabulary is the most frequently used vocabulary in our language, it is wonderful because it can be used during ANY activity throughout the day.

I have a number of students on my caseload who rely on AAC to communicate.
I'd love to share a few simple ways that I use AAC during my therapy sessions.

In case you are wondering, I do have some students using the LAMP app, and it was therefore simple to show you pictures with this communication system paired with an activity as an example. Please note, I am not an employee of Prentke-Romich Company (PRC) and am not receiving financial reward for writing about them or their products/ training in my post. It is a wonderful app and in my opinion, very much worth checking out- but again, this post is not meant to promote any single communication system. So, not matter what aided (i.e. picture visuals, communication board, or communication device) or unaided (i.e. signing) method your student or child is using, this article will hopefully offer some insight into how I would use core vocabulary with a specific activity.

One of my favorite toys that I've picked up- and I mean, EVER- for use in speech therapy is my toy toaster.

I snagged this one at Wal-mart for about $5. I had no idea at this time what a hit this would be!
I soon learned that this toaster is the PERFECT way to both model and help my students learn to use core vocabulary.

I usually start off by offering my student two choices between activities. Most of my kids indicate which motivating activity they would prefer via pointing or eye gaze.

Once they have indicated they would like to play with the toaster, I say something like, "Oh, you want to PLAY with the toaster. Let's PLAY." I then model the word "play" on the device, and show the child how to access the vocabulary as well.

Next, I explain to the child how we "WANT" to put bread in the toaster...

I then say, "Now it's time to put the bread IN. Look! Bread in! In the toaster!" I place the bread in the toaster to demonstrate. I then take it out, and let the child place the bread in the toaster, and help them to say the target vocabulary as well.

Next, the child can request "more" bread to put "in" the toaster...

I then physically show them how I am going to push the lever on the toaster "down". I say something like, "DOWN. We need to put bread DOWN." I both model and show them the use of the word. I then help the child say the word "down" using their communication system, and they can immediately see the meaning of the word as we push the bread or lever "down" together.

We of course discuss it while we "turn" the dial on the toaster...

...and when the bread comes up, I immediately show the child how to say "up". (Oh, and for double the fun- I also have them say "up" one more time, and I jump UP in the air. This might depend on how much caffeine you've had that day, but the kids usually enjoy it! Sorry, no pictures of this.)

One of my kiddos shocked me the other day by spontaneously selecting "OUT" after she pulled the bread back out of the toaster. YES!!!

Once we've finished, I both model and help the child say "finished"- or "more", if they'd like to start this super-fun activity again.
Hopefully this post provided you with a few quick and simple ideas on how to model core vocabulary and use AAC during play! You of course might need to modify- perhaps you might want to teach only "more" or "finished", or "in" or "out". Just remember, AAC should provide your student with a simple, efficient way to communicate!

Please be sure to check back soon for some more "Oh-so-simple" AAC ideas!


  1. Thanks for the ideas! It's amazing how much language you can get from one toy. Now I gotta get myself one too!!

    1. So glad you found this helpful! :) Please check back soon. I'm working on some similar AAC posts!