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23 Preschool Words Account for 96% of English Language

That’s right 23 Preschool Words!
A study of children in a childcare setting functioning at age-appropriate developmental levels showed that the following 23 words accounted for 96% of the language used over a three day period.

23 Preschool Words in descending columns of the frequency of use:

yes/yeaisgoonoutall done
Furry The Little Penguins That Could Curriculum
Email – [email protected] to get our complete FREE CURRICULUM

Shared Reading with non-verbal
emergent readers.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is an increasingly prevalent option for individuals with delays or disorders in their expressive communication abilities. For school-aged children, the use of research-based language selection and well-designed AAC systems are integral to academic success.

To read more on this complex and unique study download The Dynamic Learning Maps Core Vocabulary Overview developed by the DLM Professional Development Team at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Note: These core boards should never replace a well constructed currently available device/system.


The final 36 core words have been researched by the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and reflect words that are most commonly used in a classroom setting. In addition, Furry adds words that allow class participation for all children. Furry – The Little Penguins That Could Curriculum uses the 36 ACC Project Core cards as indicators, you are free to use any of the many varieties of cards. A full range of ACC free downloads are available at:

For example, Chapter One in Furry The Little Penguins That Could Curriculum begins with learning the DLM Core Vocabulary word “I’ and for fun Furry added “penguin”. Children learn best by playing together and we have designed this curriculum so almost any child can participate in shared reading.

Furry The Little Penguins That Could
curriculum utilizes the work of the
Center for Literacy and Disabilities Studies.

The DLM Core Vocabulary Project was initiated to determine the vocabulary that is necessary for students with significant cognitive disabilities to engage, learn, and demonstrate knowledge in an academic environment. Instead of identifying every possible word, the goal was to identify and prioritize the smallest set of required words.

The first 40 words in the DLM Core Vocabulary:

5memakeget look
10open turnstopover

The first set of 40 words was designed to create groupings of words that could help students with both communication and language growth. The words are organized in groups of 4 that lend themselves to expression and modeling of language usage.


Try out the FREE Communication Training Series Webinars

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Getting Started

  • Read Furry – The Little Penguins That Could to yourself so you:
  • Know the story and characters. Think about the students you have in your classroom.
  • Can this story help children enjoy reading?
  • Will this book help your students value each other’s differences?
  • Will the lessons learned in this book empower the children to develop friendships and acceptance that encourage inclusion?

How do I get started with The Furry Curriculum?

Start by surveying your students

We hope that Furry will make a difference to enhance the love of reading and increase inclusion, friendships, and acceptance in your school and community. We ask that you join us to create an evidence-based curriculum for all students.

The Elementary Reading Attitude Survey can be administered to an entire classroom in about 10 minutes.

The survey consists of 20 questions using the cartoon character Garfield to provide a quick indication of students’ attitudes toward reading.

We recommend administering this assessment before beginning the Furry curriculum and then administering after completing the Furry curriculum.

The Elementary Reading Attitude Survey can be found at

Note: The Professor Garfield Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational collaboration between Paws, Inc., the global headquarters for Garfield the Cat, and Ball State University, a nationally recognized leader in teacher training and digital education.

Let’s get started.

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Stuffed Animal Sleep Overs Encourage Reading

Homeschool learning ideas

Did you know Stuffies can help children learn to read?

Stuffies do not care about difficulty sounding out words or missing a word or getting frustrated. They are designed to listen quietly.

One way parents have discovered to help children learning to read is take a stuffie to the library and leave it for a sleepover.  The stuffie job is exploring the library to look and read and listen to books specially picked for the child. Pictures are taken of the Stuffie reading favorite books so when

Children take their toys to a library for the night and drop them off before going home.

The animals then ‘search’ for books they want to read in the children’s absence – staff and volunteers take staged photos of the animals exploring the library and reading together.

The next day, the children collect their stuffed animals and the photos of what they did during the night.

They’re also given the books their animals ‘chose’ to read.


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You Can Be S.M.A.R.T. at Home


S.M.A.R.T. is a developmental approach to teaching that takes advantage of current brain research. Its developmental approach is a critical and foundational part of learning readiness! Students who have developed mature readiness skills through S.M.A.R.T. have shown an increased attention span, ability to focus, and improved reading scores.

S.M.A.R.T. (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) integrates fun and challenging physical activities into the classroom that are designed to prepare the brain for reading and learning in a way that traditional instruction does not. Compatible with any existing curriculum, the multi-sensory activities stimulate the brain and increase its capacity to learn.

Simple Preschool Readiness Games
To Play Together With Very Young Child

Put the Rabbit in the Hole Game:

Tell the child to put the rabbit into the hole and he/she will do the necessary repetitions happily (up to ten reps, with longer and longer spaces between the targets. The path to the target will be wobbly at first but the job of starting and finishing a line is basic and fun.

V   V   V       V         V

O   O   O       O         O

Put the Apples on the Tree Game:

Draw a simple tree and have the child put apples on it. The apples will be varied squiggles for a time, but eventually round out and become more circular.

Dr. Lyelle Palmer, co-developer of the S.M.A.R.T. program shares, “The responsibility for success lies with the teacher/trainer in knowing both the content and the students and also have appropriate measures for regular feedback to all and appropriate action in response to that feedback. One of my goals is for all students to master the content to the level I have in mind.”

The S.M.A.R.T. Program integrates movement stimulation for kinesthetic, tactile, visual, and auditory stimulation to produce unprecedented results. Young children must move and some moves are better than others. Dr. Palmer shares his Reading Readiness charts with us.

Thousands of teachers have been trained in school teams (including the physical education teacher) for brain stimulation in the classroom, gymnasium/floor, and playground. A huge part of the program is movement activities that produce high levels of agility and coordination, strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Valuable Wisdom from Dr. Lyelle Palmer:

S.M.A.R.T. research has found more efficient ways to teach common knowledge for emergent readers. Young children are vulnerable to confusion in the testing/guessing environment when confronted with difficult/advanced choices. We want students to concentrate on the content rather than the process. We want to process to become automatic and unmediated. These distinctions are important for speed and accuracy. Our letters and words are tools that we use for construction.

The Right/Left Choice:
The S.M.A.R.T program does not teach left and right because teaching both together can confuse some children for life. S.M.A.R.T. only teaches right and when individuals know “right” direction. The person then automatically know anything that is not the “right” direction is “left”.

The Upper/Lower Case Choice:
Early letters are all upper case where confusion is minimal. Separate each letter and teach individually on different days and do not compare them during teaching. This rule applies to all pupils. Kids learn to read easier in capital letters. Lower case letters are presented in late K or first grade. Once young children master the Uppercase letters, the lower case is presented. Only seven or eight letters are different from the upper case forms (Bb, Dd, Ee, Gg, Hh, Qq, Rr).

The b d p q Choice:
Once all Uppercase letters are solid, B D P Q are introduced as individuals in contrasting presentations such as B b O o. S.M.A.R.T. never teaches lowercase b d p q in the same lessons. In fact, the program uses great care to not show them together. The letters b d p q follow the same principle as the “right” principle. S.M.A.R.T. strives to prevent the possibility of confusion by not adding in extra work. This creates the automatic mastery without the need for thinking about differences (automatic means not thinking about differences).

Use ballpoint pens not pencils with erasers: What?
Use ball point pens (crayons, markers, paint) in order to prevent corrections. Students can put a bracket around an error to show that they know the error, but proceed with the correction. A GREAT deal of time in classrooms is wasted by some children who spend all of their time erasing and the production is never satisfying. Knowing an error and trying again is an additional life skill.

S.M.A.R.T. uses lined paper.
The purpose of lined paper is to give the pupil structure as to where letters begin and end. Without lines anything goes and the child is unprepared for early academics.

Children will develop eye-hand coordination
beginning at ages 2 1/2 – 3 when we make it fun
to draw vertical lines beginning at the top mark
(dot or circle) and draw the line downwar

S.M.A.R.T. works to spare children arm/hand/finger fatigue from undue pressure and better control.
S.M.A.R.T. teachers may use paint instead of crayons, markers or pens. They may place a sponge beneath the paper so that pressure punctures the paper to help the child work to lessen the pressure. Taping papers/templates to the wall or easel forces the child to use the entire arm and develop control without pressing down so hard. Pencil grippers also help. Upper case letters for younger children provide longer strokes and create a base of coordination for later use with lower case letters.

S.M.A.R.T. Tracing is not practice,
it is instruction with instant feedback.

Tracing lines and outlines on wall posters is also necessary. Play “Drivers Ed” found on page 70 of Get to the CORE of Readiness.

So what is S.M.A.R.T.?

Simulating – Brains learn by seeing, hearing and touching things many, many, many times.
Maturity – Brain stimulation through the S.M.A.R.T. Pre-K program aims to mature sensory pathways of vision, auditory and tactile/kinesthetic.
Acceleration – To help messages travel in our brain with efficiency and speed.
Readiness – Creating foundation skills so the Brain Stem can perform automatic functions and the Cortex can perform higher functioning work.
Trains – The body and brain to be ready to learn

Compared to norms, half of the students in the Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training (S.M.A.R.T.) program achieve at the 75 percentile on formal and informal tests, and 25% are in the top 10 percentile.

Remember lines before circles!


Furry and the Stuffies are on board with the Minnesota Learning Resource Center and the S.M.A.R.T. Program. A 2011 study found that children who received S.M.A.R.T. programming maintained their reading gains through second grade, while more than half of the control students were failing again in reading by second grade.

We highly recommend you purchase S.M.A.R.T. Pre-K Program Guides CORE and MORE. Or attend the ACTG Teachers Classes!

Learn more?

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Read Aloud 21 Day Challenge

The USA has a literacy problem. Join us as we work to change this!

Literacy is the foundation for all learning, yet nearly 40% of all fourth graders in the United States read below the basic level. 60% of all juvenile offenders have problems reading. 40% of adult Americans have trouble reading.

Furry supports the Read Aloud
21 Day Challenge initiative for families.

Furry – The Little Penguin That Could is designed to be read one chapter at a time aloud. Through the true story of a Kindergarten full of stuffed animals and a little boy who could not speak a miracle happens.

And that miracle builds empathy in children, besides increasing love for reading and being read to. Fictional characters help create empathy in children. Furry and Mac are REAL!

U.S. literary average: below-basic –
Let’s become a nation of readers again instead of screentime

Put it all together, and what do you get? Our average literacy score of 270 (global literacy rate: 273) out of 500 puts U.S. adults at Level 2, or basic, literacy. What’s the latest US Literacy Rate

According to a 2018 survey of American families, only 30 percent of parents reported reading aloud to their kids for at least 15 minutes a day. Yet reading together aloud for only 15 minutes a day creates immense rewards for children and their families.