Core Words transforming AAC in the Classroom

Core Words are a hot topic in the world of Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC). Core words are the words we use most often when communicating and makeup 80% of what we say. These high-frequency words can be used across contexts and settings. They include words such as “it”, “that”, “is”, “he”, “go”, “not” and are often times more abstract than their counterparts – “fringe” words. Fringe Words are approximately 20% of the words that we say when communicating and are used in fewer situations. They include words such as “zoo”, “pizza” and “wet”. For many years AAC was focused on the use of fringe words particularly with requesting.


AAC users were introduced to many fringe words to help them communicate their needs/wants and access their curriculum. Fringe words are very important, but how often does a child need to express “zoo” versus the times they may want to express a core word like “go”? This understanding and the research supporting the focus on core word use has transformed the way that AAC users are being taught in the classroom and therapeutic settings with far-reaching results!


The AAC device companies are following suit by creating vocabulary systems with easy access to core word vocabulary on home pages and a vast array of resources focused on core word learning and use.

The Tobii Dynavox company calls their set of core words “Core First”. They have created books, lessons and Core First posters that complement their Core First Gage Sets. In the ESE classroom setting I have used Core First books to introduce the use of “go”, “want”, “more”, “you”, “it”, “is” and many more! Aided language modeling (the therapist activating words on the AAC device while speaking and reading) can be used to demonstrate to users the various ways the core words on their device can be used.

Assistiveware has created an entire online toolset called the “Core Word Classroom”. Teachers, AAC professionals and parents can download lessons, five minute fillers (outlines of core words to be used during play activities), watch videos and read articles all related to best practices for use of core words in the classroom and home settings.

The success of core word use in the academic and therapeutic setting are coming to light at schools and clinics around the nation. A quick online search will reveal hundreds of resources related to “core words”. It’s amazing to hear AAC users expand their utterance through use of core words such as: 

*Stating Observations:  “I see the ___./I see that.”

*Expressing Likes/dislikes “I do not like it.”

*Asking Questions “Can I have it?”


Learning how to use these Core Words can open up a new world for AAC users. They are given the gift of learning words that can help them communicate 80% of what they want to say. What is better than that??!! Maybe only one thing – pairing Bluebee Pals and the new Bluebee Pal App with Core Word instruction.

The house activities of the Bluebee Pals App are a great tool for practicing use of core words. Students can state what they see and hear happening in the lively Bluebee House with the core word vocabulary on their AAC device. Bluebee is great at saying core words too! Hip Hip Hurray for the new Bluebee Pals App that is available just as the world of AAC is expanding!




***Punam Desormes, M.A., CCC-SLP-Speech Language Pathologist-Princeton House Charter School-Passion-Hope-Communication-Service


Bluebee Pals and Florida Alliance of Assistive Services

Kayle Concepts recently welcomed the Florida Alliance of Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) to the Bluebee Pals Project. The regional centers received Bluebee Pals to use with clients during evaluation sessions, training activities and instructional events. FAAST is a state-funded program that provides device demonstrations and loans to help customers select assistive technology equipment that will help with activities of daily living and communication.

The Gulf Coast Regional Center is part of the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Pensacola, Florida. LaVesta Feagin, an AT Specialist at CIL, works tirelessly to provide seniors with equipment to better access their environment and live active lives. LaVesta began working as a volunteer through a Career-Transition Program and then was hired as the AT Specialist.. She primarily works to provide the elderly with items from their “senior kit” including car canes for stability, car caddies, swivel seats, lifts, power chairs, and weighted eating utensils. However, she is faced with another crucial tasks of helping customers all over the Gulf Coast find Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices that will help them communicate effectively.

LaVesta has delved into this area with a thirst for knowledge that has guided her journey as the centers only AT Specialist. LaVesta was faced with limited experience working with children and AAC devices but was up for the challenge! She has used Bluebee Pals to engage children as well as the seniors at CIL with much success! She connects Bluebee to her trial AAC Devices including the Tobii Dynavox, the iPad with Proloquo2Go Communication App, Android devices, Kindles and even smart phones! “I was excited about how they can be used with so many devices because they are Bluetooth enabled” she stated.


LaVesta hosts a “Foster Grandparents” program which connects seniors with children. Both populations benefit from the shared experience of chatting, playing games and now interacting with Bluebee Pals! “The kids and elderly loved activating the Bluebee Pals with the iPad and AAC app (Proloquo2Go)! They could talk to the foster grandparents with the Bluebee Pals and even had the grandparents using the iPads!” -LaVesta Feagin

The Bluebee Pal’s biggest fan at Gulf Coast FAAST is Hannah. LaVesta works with this 17-year-old student with Autism who without question always lets her know if she is interested in a new activity or tool right away. She will let me know right away if she is not interested in something and she absolutely loves the Zebra Bluebee Pal that she has named June. I checked out the Bluebee Pal’s recommended apps on the website and downloaded Toca Hair Salon. Hannah loves hearing the hair salon sounds through Bluebee June and is so engaged.”
“Bluebee Pals are a good price-point for people because AAC is expensive. Not only is it an affordable price, but there are a variety of animals for kids. It offers people different choices.” – LaVesta FeaginLaVesta Feagin is an AT superstar, working hard to engaged seniors and children during FAAST activities as well as for AAC evaluations. We love that Bluebee Pals are helping her in this endeavor. We salute you LaVesta!…..
FAAST Gulf Coast Regional Demonstration Center
3600 N. Pace Blvd
Pensacola, FL 32505

2017 Bluebee Pals Project and Education

 The Bluebee Pals Project soared to new heights in 2017! Laura Jiencke, the creator of Bluebee Pals, has donated 1000+ interactive plush educational companions to schools and centers around the United States. Bluebee Pals Project sites have taken these generous donations and incorporated Bluebee Pals into their educational activities and therapy. We are thrilled to hear about how students and clients have benefited from Bluebee Pal experiences through surveys and testimonials.


The most frequently reported observation has been increased engagement and joint attention when Bluebee Pals were incorporated into activities. Students were observed to make eye contact, participated in tasks and attended to activities when Bluebee Pals were present.

Several participants reported that clients seemed to enjoy the novelty of being given instruction by Bluebee Pals versus the teacher/therapist. Successes were also observed when Bluebee Pals were used as a reward. Reward systems are a crucial part of any classroom or therapy session, allowing clients to know exactly what is expected of them and what they are working for.

No one likes to work for free – so it seems that Bluebee Pals were a very motivational reward! Bluebee Pals were used for a variety of activities including vocal imitation, social skills, feeding, group attention, turn-taking, grammar activities, behavior treatment as well as gross motor and fine motor activities. Bluebee Pals participated in dance parties, sing-a-longs, story telling and even potty training!


Here are some things the participants had to say in 2017

“I have seen an increase in engagement with students. For example, a student that rarely ever participates with the class has shown interest in the Blubee and will participate with the group/teacher most of the time if the Blubee is used”  -Rebecca N. – Curriculum Instructional Specialist – Florida Autism Center of Excellence (FACE)

“It definitely helped our students stay engaged during reading time.” -Brittany High School Intervention Teacher at FACE

“In my classroom, we are learning communication skills using our favorite tech learning tool, Bluebee Pals! Children absolutely love them and are so very motivated to interact with them! Through the use of our Bluebee Pals, my students have shown tremendous progress with their speech and communication goals”! -Helen H. Wagner, M.S., CCC-SL

“They are very easy to use, and with the Bluetooth you can make the intervention very client-centered. I also like how soft they are, you can barely tell that there are any electronics inside.” -Hannah Lambert, OTAS

 We thank all participants of the Bluebee Pals Project!  We are so grateful for incorporating Bluebee Pals into their educational and therapy programs.

What’s new in the Bluebee Pals Project

What’s new in the Bluebee Pals Project?  Donations, donations, donations! Kayle Concepts has connected with THE leading resource for those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders – The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). CARD was founded in 1990 by Doreen Granpeesheh, Ph.D., BCBA-D after she was inspired by a young boy named Corey.

After studying under renowned Autism therapy scientist, Dr. Ivan Lovaas for 12 years, Dr. Granpeesheh was profoundly touched by the positive affect therapy had on Corey. She began a center that now has over 100 locations across the U.S. CARD has two programs (CARD I and CARD II) that serve children birth to 21 years old in the areas of communication, friendships, health and Specialized Outpatient Services (SOS).

CARD provides families resources for health providers and therapists as well as opportunities to learn real-life strategies to help their family member with ASD gain crucial skills. Many families and person with Autism depend on organizations like CARD to assist in navigating our ever-changing world!

With the help of Dr. Carol Zangari, Director of Nova Southeastern Universities Satellite CARD, numerous Bluebee Pals have been donated to the University of Miami CARD, University of Central Florida CARD, University of Florida CARD and Florida Atlantic University CARD.
We are beyond thankful to Dr. Zangari for helping to unite Kayle Concepts and these CARD locations! Each of these centers is associated with communicative sciences and disorders clinics, allowing the donated Bluebee Pals to be used during speech-language therapy sessions! We can’t wait to hear how the speech-language pathology graduate students, clinical directors and most of all clients are interacting with Bluebee Pals!
But that’s not all! Bluebee Pals have also been donated to the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) in Tallahassee, Florida. FAAST is a part of the Florida Department of Education’s Assistive Technology (AT) Act of 1998 and as such receives grants to help provide AT services throughout Florida. FAAST has regional centers serving the Gulf Coast, Northwest, Northeast, Central, Atlantic and Southern areas of Florida. Their many services include providing information, referral services, educational programs, access to publications/research and funding opportunities related to Assistive Technology.
Those in need of AAC devices that can help them find their voice can go to FAAST for device loans, device exchange, and reuse options, AT evaluations and demonstrations. The world of Assistive Technology can be very overwhelming with families often unaware of where to start their journey. We thank FAAST for being a trustworthy guide to AAC users and their families AND letting Bluebee Pals be part of the process! It is a perfect fit as our Bluebee’s are device users themselves – communicating with the help of iPads and Android tablets! Stay tuned to hear how Bluebee Pals are being used at the Tallahassee FAAST center in the near future!

Bluebee Pals with Apple Patch Therapy & Learning

Apple Patch Therapy & Learning is a family and therapist-owned private practice in Orlando, Florida. Named “Best Speech Pathologists in Orlando 2017”, Apple Patch provides comprehensive speech and language therapy services to adults and children in the home and clinical settings.
I had the pleasure of working with Apple Patch Therapy this Summer thanks to the dedicated and forward-thinking owners Dino and Josann Fernandez. Not only do their therapists provide specialized 1:1 therapy to children and adult, but they are also privy to the Fernandez’s tech adventures! Dino and Josann are currently developing an app to facilitate the treatment of various modes of speech and language called SLP Assistant!
I instantly knew that Apple Patch would be a perfect fit for implementation of Kayle Concepts Bluebee Pals educational tool. Their love for incorporating innovative technology into therapy sessions showed as they dove in head first with the Bluebee Pals. The speech-language pathologist used Bluebee Pals with children in the home and clinical settings during 1:1 therapy and the results were exceptional!


Some of the highlights were:                                                                           
  • higher engagement for children
  • increased phrase length when talking to Bluebee
  • sustained participation in repetitive tasks
  • motivation from all ages including middle school students
  • great tool for following directions
  • success as a communication icebreaker for conversational skills
  • wonderful signing partner
  • increased sustained participation and motivation for articulation drilling
The therapists at Apple Patch Therapy were very creative with their use of the educational tool! They used Bluebee Pals as an “alter ego” to comfort their more shy and reserved clients as well as encouraging them to hold the cute and plush toy for an additional sensory component. 
We were thrilled to hear that Bluebee Pals were able to help children reach their communication goals while having fun during therapy sessions! We can’t wait to see what else the inspiring Apple Patch team with Bluebee Pals in the near future!

Bluebee Pals Tools for Speech and Behavior Therapists

Bluebee Pals are great therapeutic tools for speech therapists and behavior therapists. They have already proven themselves to be invaluable in the classroom setting and are now making their way into therapy centers around the United States. Bluebee Pals are a great assistive technology device that enhances the overall experience of iPad or Android Tablet.Turns therapy activities on the iPad into a more engaging experience, giving kids additional sensory component as they have to hold and touch the animals.Children respond to these huggable furry tech animals adding another dimension to therapy.

Beyond the Spectrum, a therapeutic and educational center for children with Autism in Sarasota, FL recently used Bluebee Pals helped motivate a child to use the potty for the first time! A speech-language pathologist with Apple Patch Therapy in Orlando, Florida also found success using the Sammy the Bear to encourage a client to participate in language and articulation therapy and following directions tasks when Bluebee gives the actual directions. Her client increased attention to task dramatically to earn time with his Bluebee Pal! Affiliates centers with AblePlay-Lekotek in Georgia, Illinois, North Dakota, New York, L.A. and North Dakota have been using Bluebee Pals to engage students in therapeutic play!


The Apps section of the Bluebee Pal website lists many of the therapeutic apps that these therapists are using to address therapy goals in a fun and innovative way. These include Text to Speech, Articulate It, Super Duper Following Directions, Food Frenzy, Super Duper Category App, Autism iHelp Apps, See Touch Learn, 

Speech Flip Book and many many more! Tablet and iPad technology are used almost daily in most therapeutic settings making it very easy for therapists to connect the Bluebee Pals and begin using them during sessions instantly!



So, get your Bluebee Pal and start taking your therapy to the next level!


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