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Playground Core Board Details

Lots of people have asked for info on how this core board came to be, so we thought we’d share some details. Most sign companies give discounts for the more signs you do, so consider getting together with other schools in your district, county, or region (I know that’s what we’ll be doing for our grant winners here in Michigan).

A large scale board with core words, posted on a playground for children to use
Playground Core Board

The board in our photos was installed at a school in Livonia, MI.

First, you need a core board. Most of the schools here in Southeast Michigan have standardized around a couple of core board layouts, but if you haven’t got one like this, you might start with the work that’s been done at Project Core ( - although “play” isn’t on their board, and many kids are going to find that one very useful on the playground.. Some schools may want to add fringe words that are relevant to playgrounds - slide, swing, ball, jungle gym, or other things available to children at your school, but the point of core words is that you can say an awful lot with just those words. This school district’s AT/AAC committee used Boardmaker symbols, and we know they called Boardmaker to be sure they met the licensing requirements. But any symbol set that you are currently using is going to work the same.

Next, you need to get your sign printed. They used a local sign company, and asked for long lasting, outdoor materials that are “graffiti proof” - the sign company says that as long as it’s not right in direct sun all the time, it should last 10 years. It’s about 3 feet by 5 feet, and made of a 6mm thick material. The sign cost them less than $300 US.

The last thing to do was to get the sign installed. In most cases, that’s something you’ll need your district to do.

I know that my (Janet’s) kids’ school has gotten local sign companies to donate signs for various events, and I wonder if others could do the same. It’s also worth noting that in many schools, the PTO or PTA would likely help pay for a sign like this if you approach them.

One of our primary goals is to help support AAC users by supporting their staff. Providing core boards for playgrounds throughout Michigan gives kids access in a space that is sometimes hard for them to keep their devices handy, takes some load off building staff who would need to figure out how to make this happen and get it funded, and helps spread awareness, all at the same time. Details on our core board giveaway coming soon!

We would love to see pictures if you do this at your school, and hear about creative ways you’re working to help AAC users in your community!

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