Shrunken Treasures Book Giveaway


Since we started AACreATively in October, we have enjoyed getting to talk to and share ideas with some amazing parents and professionals. This is our way of saying “Thanks!” to those of you who have supported the blog.

Shrunken Treasures shortens 9 literary masterpieces into beautifully illustrated verse that is appropriate for children of all ages.

The book includes:

  • The Odyssey
  • Frankenstien (The illustrated monster is adorable.)
  • Moby-Dick (Written to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.)
  • Jane Eyre (Written to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”.)
  • A Thousand and One Nights
  • Hamlet
  • Don Quixote
  • The Metamorphosis
  • Remembrance of Things Past
  • About the Stories (Short, funny blurbs written by the author about each story.)

Good luck and we hope you enjoy this wonderful book!

Lauren and Amanda

Making Writing Motivating-Facebook Status Boardmaker Activity

Facebook Status Writing Activity

Finding ways to motivate older students can be difficult. You want to be age respectful while also providing instruction that is cognitively appropriate. I created this Facebook activity as a way to increase student motivation during writing activities.

Students can write a status at the beginning or end of the day. The teacher can write the morning message as a status. Students can “Like” the status, they can use an emoji to show how they are feeling, check-in at their current location, or tag a classmate.

Click here to download the activity.

Facebook Status ScreenThis is the main board for the activity (it is called “Facebook”). The other files are pop-up boards.


Light Up Your Sentence- A Fun Predictable Chart Writing Activity

Free Download For Predictable Chart Reading Activity

As part of our “Read The Sentence” predictable chart writing lesson (you can find the 5 plan here), we have been using tap-lights and a Boardmaker activity to increase student engagement. The tap-lights can be purchased on Amazon, hardware stores, CVS, etc. and you can lay out one tap light for each word (the words can be on or above the light). During the lesson, the student says each word and turns on the corresponding light. Our tap-lights decided to give us a little trouble so I made a back-up Boardmaker activity (download here).

Light Up Your Sentence 1

Light Up Your Sentence 2 The title page introduces the activities and allows students to turn a light on to practice.

Writing Sentences is Fun

Writing Sentences is Fun Lit Up

The first page has the sentence with the final word blank. Each box will turn yellow and the text will turn black when it is selected. When the board is in “use” mode you can type in the message display bar and when the box surrounding it is selected it will light up.


Don’t Censor Me: Defending AAC Users’ Right to Express Themselves

Don't Censor Me

Recently, a discussion among friends in our AAC community came up, about whether or not we should be customizing devices for AAC users to only include words they understand.  To clarify, “understand” seemed to refer to the user’s ability to fully comprehend the meaning of the word.  One school of thought was to remove words if the user did not have this “understanding.”  Our school of thought is absolutely not!  For example, Lauren and I have a context for the word “astrophysics” and might say it when talking about last night’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory;” but if you asked us to describe it or tell you about it… we couldn’t.  This does not mean that we can’t use the word.  Following this train of thought, we believe our AAC users have the right to say any word they want even if they don’t necessarily know the meaning of it.  This creates wonderful, unexpected teaching opportunities.

A point I’d like to make about these teaching opportunities is that they don’t necessarily mean the AAC user will walk away with an understanding of the word.  And that’s ok!  Their verbal peers might not understand your explanation either, but they can still say the word if they choose to!  My cousin recently used a swear word and when asked by her mother if she knew what that word meant, she said “no.”  Her mother’s reply was simply, don’t use that word again!  Verbal speakers use words they don’t understand, so AAC users can too!  There may also be times when you have to level your explanation for the user. For example, when young children ask “where do babies come from?” their parents and teachers don’t usually tell the whole story!  Depending on the child’s abilities, you may choose to provide a simplified explanation!


Reading Books on the Accent!

In trying to become fluent in Unity 84 sequenced, I have failed to explore some of the other awesome features on the Accent. I share an office with a great SLP, who just showed me the books that are available on the Accent. There are several books to choose from and they allow the student to read the words on each page using Unity while they look at the book! It’s a great way for students to learn a new motor plan (or continue to practice an old one) and build literacy skills. Here is how you can access the books:

  1. Go to PAGES.

Books on the Accent!

  1. Go to BOOKSCapture 2
  2. Book options will open up. Choose one to read (We chose “What Do You Do?”). They mostly focus on different core words but there are some books that are more complex (e.g., Goldilocks). If you pick the book called “I Can Turn…” (the character changes colors throughout the book), you will see the relevant vocabulary for each page (“I can”, “turn”, colors).Capture 8
  3. Turn the pages by hitting the blue “prev page” and “next page” buttons on the little book page that opens up. The icons that appear are the first ones in the sequences for the vocabulary on the page. The page will move around the screen so that you can access the vocabulary.Books on the Accent!Books on the Accent!Enjoy!


AAChronicles #11


When working with a teacher in a classroom with AAC users, I often direct them to Gail Van Tatenhove’s resources on descriptive teaching (you can also find some great youtube videos modeling it). One of the classrooms I have been supporting in has 5, 5 year olds using high-tech. We have been doing shared reading every day after nap-time, and their teacher has been working on commenting on the text and describing what is happening on each page using their devices (with these supports). He is doing a great job using the supports and is beginning to model for the students without using them. The other day, he was having some difficulty coming up with things to model and one of his students said “DESCRIBE” on her Accent. He immediately began describing what was happening on the page. The timing was excellent and we all had a laugh.

Don’t you love it when the students remind you of what you are supposed to be doing!

Problem Solving For Teacher Barriers To Shared Reading Lessons With AAC Users

We have been really enjoying our journey implementing the Four-Block Model in several classrooms. As with anything new, we have discovered a few things we had to problem solve our way through. Our school has gone through a huge AAC overhaul over the last 2 years with a large number of students receiving high-tech devices in a very short amount of time.  Teachers and paraprofessionals continue to adjust to the change and some are finding it difficult to model on devices.

At the same time we are overhauling AAC we are also working on how we teach literacy. After a wonderful presentation at ATIA, we began doing shared reading lessons in several classrooms where we have early emergent readers. We are following a modified CAR strategy during these lessons. The teacher reads a page and models commenting about what is happening on the page. Next, they ask for or invite participation from students (this could be just pausing or asking “what do you think?”). Once a student participates, they respond by repeating what the student said and adding information. Often this requires some creativity to relate what the student has said back to the text (try working the word “bathroom” in the book “Brown Bear”).  You can download the CAR visual we use here. CAR


Switch Adapted Book Template

Switch adapted book template to save you time!

Have you felt like Jessie Spano lately? As educational professionals we never have enough time. Here in DC, we are right in the middle of testing season and it is STRESSFUL. As an instructional coach, I try to provide the teachers at my school time saving templates for activities whenever I can. I recently made a template for creating switch accessible books in Boardmaker and thought I would share it with all of you!

Switch Adapted Book TemplateSwitch Adapted Book Template

Each of the text boxes is set up to speak, so just change the text rather than deleting the box. The pages are set-up for step scanning (you can scan through the text, turn the page, and go back). The pictures are set-up do that they can’t be selected when scanning. If you wish to keep this feature, just replace the image in the button.

Click here to download the book template.

Click here to read about switch scanning in Boardmaker.

AAChronicles #10


One of our fantastic girls who is waiting for her own eye gaze device to be approved by insurance was recently working with her SLP.  We’re crunched for time as she is already 19 and we’re trying to make sure she can use as many features of the device as possible before she graduates.  She’s been working on reading, writing with Unity and the keyboard, and navigating out of the communication software to launch other applications and then back into her communication software.

This week she had asked to play a game so her SLP helped her navigate to the LooktoLearn software.  She chose “Paper, Scissors, Stone” and appeared to be having fun.  After a couple of minutes, her SLP navigated back to the NuVoice software in case the student had something to say.  And she did!  She said “play fun, stop talk!”  It was fantastic!  She’s only been using the device for a month during trial sessions and to hear her say this sentence was amazing!  She obviously got to go back to her game!

**Side Note – With our eye gaze users, we never leave the students alone with games.  A communication partner is always next to the student and frequently opens the communication software to talk about the game or ask the student what they want to do next.  We try very hard to make sure our students have dedicated communication devices, but some of our students who use eye gaze rarely get to control things by themselves.  It makes it hard to say “no” when they ask to play. **

Age Respectful Fun for Older Students!

I wanted to share some fun items I’ve purchased to use with some of my older students with complex communication needs.  It’s sometimes challenging to come up with activity ideas for my older students using AAC but I recently decided to of the “joke” route and it’s been a blast.  Some of my younger students, especially the boys, have also been getting a kick out of these items!  Here are some of my favorites.  If you click the pictures, they link to where you can purchase them on

Snakes in a Can!  These are a favorite because you can use them to surprise students and then students can use them to surprise others!  My students love “tricking” other staff and students into opening the cans.  They seem to be very motivating to communicate!  Also, for many of my students with complex bodies (physical impairments) they can participate in funny activities by giving the directions and watching the results!  A couple of words can lead to a huge payoff in laughs!

Snakes in a Can Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 1.30.42 AM






no buttonThe NO button!  The button has ten different phrases/ voices to say “no.”  I’ve paired it with “No David” for younger students or taken turns with students asking questions and then saying “no.”  For example, you can ask a student a question such as “do you like boogers?” and they hit the “no” button.  Then the student can ask you a question so you can hit the “no” button!

whoopee cushionWhoopee Cushions!  Enough said?  Fun to have students tell you what to do to set it up.  “Put on chair, get it, move it, different chair.”

sound machine

fart machineSound Machines.  I love these because there are so many varieties!  Here are two of my favorites.  It’s a fun opportunity for students to practice asking for one that is “different” and commenting on the different
sounds.  Some comments/ adjectives we’ve practiced include “too loud, annoying, bad, like that, funny, silly, disgusting, weird, etc.”  Some directions I’ve heard students give or that I’ve modeled include: “do it again, pick a different one, you try, I pick.

magic 8 ball The Magic 8 Ball is a good one to use when working on asking questions.  Who knows what answer you’ll get! It might be helpful to have question starter visuals.  Great to use with a group; let one student ask, another shake, and a third person read the answer!

Some other fun ideas:  The rubber chicken, gum/ pens that shock the person who touches them, voice changing machines, and prank kits.

rubber chicken           voice changer            pranks            pens        gum

Share your ideas!