Lions, and Tigers, and Core, Oh My!

Book cover of The Little Old Lady who was not afraid on Anything

Spooky Core for Halloween


Fall is a great time to use holiday themes to make learning core vocabulary fun!  My favorite is Halloween.  I love using children’s books to emphasize core vocabulary concepts. We should always assume that children with disabilities will learn to read.  The journey to reach that destination may look a bit different from that of a typical learner’s, but that’s okay.


Reading can be made accessible through applying the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning).  UDL calls for learners to have access to multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement.


How can we do this using low tech AAC?  I like to pair children’s books with core vocabulary communication boards.  


Using a little glue (or velcro), we add rows and/or columns of fringe vocabulary for the book we are reading. Core vocabulary words can be paired with the fringe to create two and three word phrases. This allows us to ask questions, make comments, and demonstrate an understanding of the content.

We can make this activity come alive even further by using interactive books online.  Some good websites include TumbleBooks and Tarheel Reader.  TumbleBooks is not a free site, but it can sometimes be accessed through your local library.  These animated books really grab the attention and allow children to ‘read’ by listening and looking!  

Another great resource is the Dollar Store.  You can buy cheap board books and make them over as core-friendly books with repetitive language.  If you don’t have access to Boardmaker symbols, you can do a search on Google, or sites like Pixabay, for free images.  I’ve made books, such as, Scary Witch, Scary Witch, What Do You See? Glue your story onto the pages of the board book and cover with contact paper.

I have created a core vocabulary communication board, along with fringe vocabulary for several Halloween-related books:

  • We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt, by Kris Hirschmann
  • Go Away Big Green Monster, by Ed Emberly
  • Dry Bones, by Kate Edmunds
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda D. Williams

If you can’t find read aloud versions of these books on TumbleBooks, try YouTube.

 Also, you can find free, printable story props to go along with these books on  Props can be printed in color, or black and white.  Use a craft activity as follow up to reading the book.  This provides a chance for repetition of the core and fringe vocabulary, as well as an opportunity to retell the story!


Halloween Core

Halloween Fringe


Do you have favorite book sites?  Share them with us!


Kathryn Helland

Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and works with children and adults with complex communication needs. She has been with the TechOWL team since 2015 and is currently working on her doctorate. She would like to examine how to best support AAC users in higher education.

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