This page will include strategies, ideas, case examples, and resources for working with words with students who use AAC.

Write an Add-A-Word Poem.
Start with a title. Add one new word per line. As you add words, keep in mind the functional core words we are practicing saying/spelling/writing. Each line adds another word, but still repeats the words from the previous line, so they practice writing words over and over. After you create the poem, you can copy the text into a word cloud. You can use and the most frequently used words are displayed the largest. I have attached an example. You can also use the free ABCya Word Cloud app for your iPad.
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Sing and Spell: Check out these ideas from Heidi's Blog, including a great entry on creating sticker books. (Thanks for finding this, Lauren Enders)

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Picking Words for a Word Wall: Check out this short video explaining how to choose words for your word wall.
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Picking Words for Word Wall Video


This FREE webinar from the Louisiana DOE Significant Disabilities Access Guide shows Dr. Gretchen Hanser giving a video tutorial on Making Words.
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Making Words Webinar

Wordle - use this strategy to display words you are practicing on any topic or category. Here is one we made when grilling vegetables and blending for soup:

Wordle: grilled vegetable soup

Some Wordles will give you more control over size, color, and layout.

Consider checking out Mrs. Muñoz's Class Blog on four different Wordles:

And here's another site:
101 Ways to Use Tagxedo

37 most common spelling patterns (sometimes referred to as ‘rimes’ or ‘word families’)

Word Sorts - A Place to Begin
  • A great way teach students about the common visual elements in words
  • Reinforces what students have learned about the alphabetic principle
  • Build upon knowledge of personally relevant words with spelling patterns: Nick / cat
  • As soon as students understand the visual sorting process, begin getting them to sort words based on phonological similarities before checking visually.

Visual Word Sorts

  • Visual word sorts emphasize the orthographic (print) processor.
  • Step 1: Select two key words the student knows that have a common spelling pattern ( at - pick)
  • Step 2: Make sure student can read the two key words.
  • Step 3: Show student a word that has the same spelling pattern as
    one of the key words.
  • Step 4: Ask the student to indicate which key word has the same spelling pattern as the new word. Compare/Contrast the two words.

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Boo Bingo - Idea from Caroline, tech tips from Deanna 10/14/12

This is a great activity for enhancing quick sight word recognition for Word Wall Words.
It's titled 'Boo Bingo' because in October, you add the word 'boo' and when that word is pulled, students get to jump up and yell boo (or hit their single message device to call out boo). In November, the extra word is 'gobble', in December 'Ho Ho Ho' etc. One great feature of this bingo is that students make their own bingo cards, by writing the words. Thus, this lesson combines reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

On your iPad, think about quickly using any draw program. I am particularly fond of the Chalk app and Doodle Buddy with tic-tac-toe templates when 9 seems like enough, though you do need to draw the words rather than typing. Don't forget to take screen shots with different arrangements for all your students. You can open in multiple iPads using DropBox. You can also collaborate/share boards using the Whiteboard app (which allows you to use text to write each word after you draw the grid).

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Doodle Buddy


See ideas for using Doodle Buddy, GoTalk NOW and SceneSpeak on


After attending an ASHA webinar on Language and Literacy for Preschoolers, Deanna found this resource on March 20, 2011:

PALS (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening) has an activity of the month for parents. These activities for typical children would be great for our nonvebal students. Just remember that playing with sounds is important, and a child who cannot speak can be reminded to "use the voice in your head." The January/February 2011 newsletter is Building a foundation for reading with rhymes and songs! Take a look:

Submtted by Deanna K. Wagner on February 2, 2010:
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A popular word strategy that has been proven effective with students who use AAC is called "Making Words" and is designed to develop an understanding of word patterns. Originally described by Patricia Cunningham, the Four Blocks materials sold through Carson-Delossa Publishing has grade level books as well as a "Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use ," which is not grade-specific. You can also find the same type of systematic instruction in the "Literacy through Unity" lesson books available through Prentke Romich Company for the Vanguard and Vantage devices, and the "Tango to Literacy" lessons for the Tango! communication device. You can find Wordmaking Cards for Boardmaker Plus at

February 2009 - WordO: Eye Gaze Version
Tip of the Month

This tip provides how-to instructions for making a simple eye gaze frame to support playing ‘Wordo’ for a student who uses eye gaze. Simply use a ‘trade card holder, and cut out the middle for easy viewing. Download instructions and references.

Caroline Musselwhite - January 29, 2010


What: The Nifty Thrifty Fifty is another great idea from Pat Cunningham. This set of activities that use a list of 50 words to teach the use of patterns when decoding, spelling and building meaning for polysyllabic words. Patterns in polysyllabic words are in the form of morphemic units in the form of roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

Why: It is estimated that for every word you know, you probably are able to decode, spell, and comprehend six or more other words using the morphemic patterns.

Materials to Support This Set:

Jeopardy Game

Slideshow for Beginners

Slideshows & Lists: Franklin Avenue Middle School

Phoneme Phun (Tip of the Month, January & February 2008)

These handouts describe fun and interactive activities, including background and resources, that focus on

Sound Substitution (Giggly… Goggly… Goo, Pizza… Patza…)


Phoneme Isolation (Going on a hunt, Tongue Twisters)

Tip of the Month Index, 2008

Deanna attended a seminar in January, 2014 and learned about linking articulation training to the orthographic (print) processor. The seminar was given by Keli Richmond, M.S., CCC-SLP, author of Literacy Speaks. The Activities link has many ideas for sound/letter activities, including books loaded with target sounds.