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Articles > At School > It All Begins With Core Vocabulary
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It All Begins With Core Vocabulary


Core Vocabulary is a set of the most commonly used words.


These few words hold great power when combined as they generate meaningful communicative interactions. They are the core of communication.


Beginning communicators or communicators with limited verbal skills can express thoughts and needs when taught core vocabulary.

So how do we empower beginning communicators with core?

Model, model, model.

Start by modeling a few words at a time. I often start wtih a real emphasis of one word (ie: "open" the book, container, door...) and point to the word each time it's used. Expand by pointing to 2 words ("you open", "open it"). Model in different places and contexts (lunch, centers, storytime). Label the room with core to expand opportunities to model.  

Here is a list of resources for integrating core instruction in the early childhood classroom. 

Learn about Core Vocabulary: 


Core Vocabulary Planning Resources:

  • Here is a blank Core Model Plan used to plan and communicate target core words taught during a specific activity. 
  • Here is a sample Core Modeling Plan for an activity where students build a bridge to help the Gingerbread Man cross the river. 
  • Here is a blank planning map used for planning and communicating target core words used throughout an early childhood classroom during a unit of study. 
  • Here is a planning map with ideas of many core phrases used within all areas of an early childhood classroom. A teacher may select a few words that work well with a unit of study (the farm, community helpers, etc.) and fill in the blank form. Great for communicating target core words to team members (paras, therapists, etc). 


Great Ideas with Core Vocabulary:

  • Go on a Nature Hike; This is a great activity with less opportunities to say "I want" and more opportunities to comment: "Look!", "I see...", "It's over there", "Let's go see what it is!", etc. 
  • Play board games like Hi-Ho-Cherry-Oh. Model core words: "My turn", "I go", "Do you have it?", "I like it", "play again", etc. 
  •    Book with Core words (put) and Clothes. 
  •    January Core Words Book using Unity Symbols
  •    I can say "yes" book
  •    Sentence Strips to cut and label room
  •    I Have Who Has game with core
  • Phil'Up Chuck at Language Lab: This distasteful game is an appealing game for kids who love bodily functions; and what fun we could have!  Great article by Ryan Knoblauch that shows how to embed core in a fun game. His strategies can be applied to many games, but Phil'Up Chuck may win the prize. 
  • Core Word Starter Lesson Plans - at Language Lab
  • Core Word of the Week - by Jenna Rayburn Kurk. Good ideas for Core around the room. 


LessonPix Core Vocabulary in Early Childhood: