Book Creator and core vocabulary

Nikki HeymanCase study, English, Languages, Special Education

Teaching core vocabulary is an important part of speech therapy, and this app expert has found a way to get creative with one of her favourite kids’ books.

What is core vocabulary?

Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts. Core words are familiar and most of them are short – six letters or less. Only a few core words have more than six letters (for example, “sometimes” has nine letters).

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a term for the different methods that can be used to help people communicate with others (and by this we mean people who may have difficulty communicating due to disability or some other factor). Building up a set of core vocabulary words can be an important part of AAC.
I am new to the world of AAC and have a lot to learn.

BUT what I do know is:

  • Narratives are important for developing language length and complexity.
  • Children love narratives and repetition of stories.
  • Repetition facilitates learning.
  • Working on  core vocabulary is difficult because you cannot represent the word as an icon/symbolstix picture. The only way to get it across is to model it, over and over again.

Creating a core vocabulary book with Book Creator

Here’s what I did to teach some core vocabulary words to a student that I am working with using the app Touch Chat, an app for people who have difficulty using their natural voice (designed for individuals with Autism, Down Syndrome, ALS, apraxia, stroke, or other conditions that affect a person’s ability to use natural speech).

I chose a story called Moo by Roger Hargreaves . The story is relatively short, I really love it and because I love it, my enthusiasm spills over.

Nikky Heyman's core vocabulary book in Book Creator

I took pictures of each page and then typed in the text on the opposite page. I modified the text slightly because I wanted to use as much repetition of core vocabulary as possible. (I am sure Mr Hargreaves won’t mind).

I then took screenshots of the core vocabulary and placed them on each page of the book. I added voice to each core word so that we could tap on it and become familiar with it.

Finally, I made it so the ‘voice’ would be invisible in iBooks. This is one of the awesome features of Book Creator.

How to add audio hotspots to your book

Making the audio hotspot invisible

I exported my book from Book Creator to iBooks and AirDropped it to my student’s iPad so that he had a copy of the book to practise reading at home.

Original paperback of Moo by Roger HargreavesThe fantastic thing is that we did not discard the paper book.

Once he was familiar with the core vocabulary we could read from the original paper book, and his ability to access the core words improved so much.

Nikki Heyman is a Speech & Language Therapist and Remedial Therapist in Johannesburg, South Africa, currently working as a private paediatric speech therapist.

Nikki has developed a special interest in using the iPad and iPad apps for therapy both with special needs children and language learning disabled children. She has her own blog and is part of the Expert App Guru team at yappguru.com in the U.S.

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