Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Toca Hair Salon: make it work with core words!



I'm pretty sure by now it's well known fact how much I love TocaBoca apps. They not only engage the students I work with but they fully engage me as well. Because there is very little written language or spoken language within them, the apps lend themselves to a plenty of opportunities and motivation for communication exchanges. 

FYI, TocaBoca is offering a bundle (Toca Toy Box) and Toca Hair Salon can be purchased along with other great TocaBoca apps for a reduced price. 

Toca Hair salon is not a new release, but it sure is a favorite that never gets old. After you select a character, you can cut, grow, curl, straighten, wash, dry or color the person's hair. Although this app can lend itself to helping learn some specific salon style vocabulary, I chose to use a core words board with limited fringe (more specific vocabulary words) on the top. Before taking a turn using the app, I expect my clients to use a phrase using some of the vocabulary below to convey what he/she would like to do. 



This board can be found on Boarmakeronline. Often, my clients point to icons as they speak or use their AAC devices.  Some of the phrases might be:
  • I/you do it
  • Help me do
  • I cut hair
  • Let's grow it
  • I like it
  • Stop, no like
  • Want different hair
  • Cut different
  • Grow more hair
  • Comb there
  • Cut that
  • Look! (she.. point to character) like it
  • Dry hair
Although there are plenty more vocabulary words I could focus on using (e.g. curly, straight, long, short, frizzy, towel dry, hair dryer, clip, bow, colors etc.), I chose to focus on the use of core words (shown as the bigger icons) with basic, more frequently used fringe words (shown as smaller icons on top) that could be used multiple times while playing with the app. Focusing on the core words allows for more practice with the vocabulary within one speech therapy sessions. In addition, because core words are practical, functional words that can be used across multiple settings, practicing them within a fun game will increase the likelihood they will be used outside the game (and in the real world!) as well.

I like to think of core words as "make it work" words. For example, I as the speech therapist become a "Tim Gunn" and I encourage my students to say what they want to say with the words that they have in front of them. Of course, if I am to expect this of my students, I myself have to change what I say and "make it work" with what words I have. 

So the boards not only serve as support for my students, but also for me as a reminder of the most useful words that I should be modeling for my students throughout our speech therapy activities. 

For more information on core words and AAC, PrAACtical AAC is a great resource! 

Now, go "make it work!" 


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