Teaching Core Words a weekly plan

Teaching Core Words

When teaching core words it helps to have a plan. That way we can make the most of incidental and structured teaching and learning. When selecting the core words to teach I consider two options.

Teaching Core Words Plan Communication Word of the Week Sign

Option One – DLM first 40

The first option is to go straight to the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) first 40 and select directly from there. Here is the list if you require it. It is designed to start with the first four and make your way through. Although this is not essential each set is purposefully chosen to combine together when communicating. Each set can be added on to the previous words. They contain a range of functions. This is what I did last year. I found it very methodical and a great way to begin. I personally did find it a little too constricting at times.

Option Two – Activity based

A second idea is to start with a theme. I then connect a weekly shared story to the theme. Next I draw core words to teach from the story. Then we use the words purposefully in all activities throughout the day. This way you are assured to have lots of different opportunities to teach the selected core word. To read more ideas on selecting core words to teach try reading this great article from Assistive Ware.

Selecting from the Shared Story

I first look in the shared story for a word from the first 40. If nothing particularly springs out at me I simply look at other core options. I select a word off my communication core board and use that. If you don’t have a class core board I have one you can download. Just click here and visit this post.

How Do We Teach Core Words

We need to take every opportunity to model by pointing to the symbol and saying the words. Remember this needs to happen all day by everyone. Children will learn by observing and being supported through expectant pause and levelled prompts. When ready they will touch the symbols independently.

Advertise the Core word of the week

Let everyone know what the core word of the week is. I place my laminated core word of the week notice on the entrance door to my class. Each week the focus core word is circled on my A4 (or letter) size communication board on the notice. Feel free to download mine here. One is also placed on the wall inside the classroom. I ensure all staff (and or family) know where to locate the symbol on whatever core system is used. The family is informed in my weekly newsletter what the core word of the week will be.

Symbols Around The Class/Home

Place extra symbols around the class/home. On the doors, in the toy bins, on the tables and other places you may use the word frequently. Placing some printed examples of what could be modelled at the one, two, or three word level can be useful for staff or family to use. Especially if new to modelling core words. The following ideas could be for teaching the Core Word ‘Go’.

This is the first of a series of posts where I will focus on sharing ideas teaching a weekly core word. Shared readers will be suggested. A downloadable resource (or two) will support the teaching of each core word. Lets begin with the core word ‘Go’.


1 word
2 words3 words
go want goI want go
go go outI/you/they/all/ go out
go go inyou/I/they/all/ go in
gonot goI/we/he/she/they/it not go
go go nowwant go now, I want go now
gohe/she gohe/she go out, he/she go in, he/she go now


1 word2 words3 words
gogo fastthat/it/want/I/you/we go fast
gogo slowthat/it/want/I/you/we go slow
gogo upthat/it go up
gogo downthat/it go down
gogo moreI/you/it go more
goready goget ready go
gomy/your go my/your turn go

Ensure we take the opportunity to explicitly teach the core word throughout the week.

Adapted Core Books core communication errorless 'Go' symbols
Adapted Core Book ‘Go’

Explicit teaching

  • morning message: ensure ‘go’ is written and used in the morning message daily e.g., ‘We will go out and play in the sun’.
  • Shared Stories By Title: Go Dog Go!; Go Away Big Green Monster; Tar Heel Reader ‘Animals Go In’
  • Adapted books: I have one for you called ‘Let’s Go’ (see the bottom of the post)
  • Predictable chart writing: use ‘go’ as a key word in the repeated sentence e.g., Go Away Big (noun); Go (noun)Go!; Let’s Go (noun) or Let’s go (verb), The (noun-animals) go in.
  • Centre or task box matching of the core symbol: tracing a pre-writing pattern from ‘go’ symbol (or word) to a door or a stop sign etc; locating and daubing the ‘go’ symbol.

Time to give it a ‘go’

Go forth and get your core on. Remember if we are excited when using the core words it will encourage the students to use it.

Aroha, Ann

I would love for you to join my weekly newsletter. Click the subscribe button, add your email and receive the latest on the blog and have access to all the free printables.

You are welcome to follow me on Pinterest and to share this post.

Download my ‘Let’s Go’ core book here. There are two different versions: ‘Go’ Symbol Circle or ‘Go’ Symbol Arrow


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.