Core and More! A must read for creative ideas to facilitate functional use of Core words and More! for AAC users


Core and More! A must read for creative ideas to facilitate functional use of Core words and More for AAC users
I have found a powerful way to get my students to use their devices for functional speaking turns. Opportunities for me to model core vocabulary and more are endless with these very creative apps. Let me tell you about them. I categories these apps into three groups: Create a Show apps, Make Me Talk apps and Send a Message apps.
Examples of “create a show” apps are Sock Puppets, Frozen Theater, Story Theater, Elmo the Musical Storyteller and iTellTales. All of these apps have some version of telling your characters what to say. Most have animated mouths that move in sync with what you tell them to say and that is very cool. Some allow you to assemble 4+ speaking turns, 2 mins of speech or a “conversation” between characters you have created. You can create a mini show with backgrounds and movement, sound effect and speech. They can be as simple or as complicated and lengthy as your communicator abilities. Long or short, they are good clean fun!
How I do it:
Depending on the abilities of the student, I use a simple template/graphic organizer for who does what where if we are creating a story or a topic board for picking a topic to have a simple conversation with 2-3 speaking turns. I make sure that the topics can be addressed with vocabulary on their devices. Some kids love to talk about going to Disney or their dog, favorite movies or their time with Grampa or what they do at the park etc. We may use these apps to rehearse conversations that are going to take place like “how do you invite someone to your house to play?” “What do you say to someone you see after vacation?” The student assembles their messages on their devices and learn to hit record on the app then their device to record their voice for the characters. I support the student with social script reminders such as:

how do we start off a conversation,
introduce a topic,
what should you say next,
what do you think they should say next,
is that related,

what can you say to change the topic,
do you have any questions to ask,

how do we end the conversation etc. This is ongoing as we create the script. Kids get the biggest kick out of hearing their device through the characters. These apps make it super easy to record the devices messages. Just make sure the volume is all the way up on the device.
Most apps allow me to save and or share the show with parents and teachers and even add music or sound effects and some animation. In saving, I have a nice record to show how they used their devices to produce messages. In the Sock Puppet app, you can also adjust the quality and pitch of your character’s voice. It can be a true voice or as silly as you like. Core and More! is easily modeled multiple times in these functional, real conversations between characters that happen at a nice slow pace yet the playback is in real time and sounds great. We may create a 45 second video that took us 25 mins to create.
describe your weekend,

Use of Core and More! is again easily modeled to match the activity at hand. Tellagami also does a really nice job with nonverbal language skills as your character animates a bit and you select the expression. (I do this with my verbal kids who need to use more gestures when they speak etc.) The Talkz app has well known character heads and other heads that you type a message and they speak what you type. This too can be messaged to others. My students make their message on their device and I type into the app. I love making intentional errors and have my students correct me- No that’s not right, it’s not what I said, You got it wrong, listen to me, I said_____  try that again etc. Great opportunity to use negation.

There’s also a group of apps I call the Make Me Talk apps. I use these for more limited message making. These apps are ChatterPix and ChatterKid, Tellagami, My Talking Pet and Talkz apps. For older students I also use PhotoSpeak and Morfo. In all these apps you are importing, taking a picture or creating a character that you can either morph and or make it speak. Again kids use their devices to produce the message for the character they created. Tellagami is very well suited to making choices and describing as you create a character head to toe. You can also use your own photo as the background so it is quite personally relevant. I have my students use Tellagami a lot to:

share a message,
a quote of the day,
send a birthday greeting,
retell the best part of today,
share some trivia
tell a joke,
state facts about a topic they are studying,
share a dream,
give the weather,
describe your best ice cream,
recite a line from a poem, or repeated line from a story
read site words,
give directions etc.

Then there’s the simple Send a Message apps. This is another very simple way to have kids share a simple or lengthy message that they create on their device and is recorded in another app. PhotoCard is one of my favorite apps for  this simple sharing. In the app, I can use any image on the front of the ePostcard. We will take a picture of an awesome picture they colored, a worksheet, spelling test or their backpack on the hook, them on the swing or having a tea party. Whatever part of their day they want to share. On the back of this postcard you can easily touch and add a speech bubble and record the message from their device. This postcard is then emailed from the app and the receiver gets the front and back of the postcard and a button to hear the recording. This app also allows you to address the card properly, compose a full written text message, add a real stamp and decorate with stickers. One of my favorite ways to use this is as a birthday card. We make the cake in the Cake Doodle app, take a screen shot then import the photo into the Photocard app, compose the happy birthday message or song and send! You can also use screen recording apps such as Educreations, Doodlecast Pro and similar apps to record your voice along with any image you can import, draw or take a photo within the app.  

The Photo Puppet HD must be mentioned. It is a fantastic app but is much more complicated. I have used it in a small group with typical kids who do the mechanics of making the puppets on the iPad and my student again creates and records the messages. This app is very cool as you can use your own photo to be the puppet, animate it and record the speech; it is pretty sophisticated.
Below are a few examples.
This is a Tellagami I made for a student who does not like getting up for me in the am. Her Mom plays this and she pops out of bed every time. 
This one was created by a 5 year old using her aac app.

This is an example of the Sock Puppet app with the messages recorded from an AAC device also. 

I hope you explore these apps and see the potential for Core and More! as you create fun and functional messages!