What are Core Words?

Core words account for approximately 60 - 80% of the words that we say every day. They include many different parts of speech, such as pronouns, prepositions, adjectives, and verbs. Nouns are not usually core words. Continue reading to see why. 

Core Words Versus Fringe Words

Nouns, and other words that are not considered core words, are often referred to as fringe words. Fringe words are vocabulary that are usually used in just one or a few contexts and not with the same frequency as core words. Lion and ice cream, which are nouns, could be examples of fringe words. 

A robust language system for an individual should contain both core and fringe vocabulary. Core vocabulary is used the most often but fringe vocabulary allows an individual to talk about specific things, events, or people relevant to their life and environmental context.

Why Do We Use Core Words?

Core words are usually flexible and used across multiple contexts. For example, the word go can be communicated when moving to a different location, leaving a location, and initiating an action. Go can be used at home, at school, in the community, while playing, and while completing activities of daily living (ADLs). 

Core Word Activities for Speech Therapy

The “Core Word of the Week” approach is a common way to target core words in speech therapy sessions, in the classroom, and other instructional environments. Using this approach, one core word (e.g., help) is targeted multiple times over the course of the week to increase exposure to it and highlight how it can be used in different contexts.

Why to Use Books for Core Words Instruction

Regardless of if you decide to use a “Core Word of the Week” approach, picture books are still a great way to target core words.

Book with core words are useful for many different reasons:

  1. Predictability: Some picture books follow predictable patterns or have repetitive phrases. This predictability can help individuals who use AAC anticipate how core words may be used. 
  2. Visual Support: The visual support provided by pictures in picture books can aid individuals who use AAC in associating the word with its meaning. 
  3. Contextual Learning: Picture books provide a context for core words, allowing individuals who use AAC to see how these words are used in real-life situations. 
  4. Engagement: Many picture books are visually engaging and can capture the attention of individuals who use AAC, making learning more enjoyable.
  5. Repetition: Picture books often repeat core words throughout the story. This repetition helps reinforce the use of these words.
Picture books, like these, are great educational tools for AAC

Books for Core Words

The following are picture books that can be used to teach and provide exposure to various core words.

Core words included:

  1. Eat
  2. Feel
  3. Go
  4. I
  5. Like
  6. More
  7. No
  8. On
  9. Open
  10. Play
  11. See
  12. Up
  13. Want
  14. Where
  15. Yes

Note: many books may be used to target more than one core word, which is why you may find some in multiple categories. 

1.Core Word: Eat


2.Core Word: Feel


3.Core Word: Go


4.Core Word: I


5.Core Word: Like


6.Core Word: More


7.Core Word: No


8.Core Word: On


9.Core Word: Open


Lift and flap books are great for the core word open as well! 

10.Core Word: Play


11.Core Word: See


12.Core Word: Up


13.Core Word: Want


14.Core Word: Where


15.Core Word: Yes


Many books available via hard copy also have digital versions on YouTube! Using a digital book may be helpful for group instruction or situations where getting a physical book is not feasible.

These books are great for teaching core words.

More Core Word Resources

Cover all things AAC and feel confident in your skills - check out our other related blog posts!

Find Core Word of the Week activity ideas for GO (free download included). 

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