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Makaton and Special iApps

Use Makaton Symbols with Special Words Plus

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a unique language programme which uses signs, speech and symbols together to support communication and spoken language. As language develops, new signs and symbols are added. Makaton's use ;has evolved over the years to support people of all ages in a variety of ways to improve their communication, education and everyday life. Over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton daily as it can be tailored to the individual’s needs by using a mix of speech, signs and symbols.

Makaton is increasingly being used in Early Years education to encourage any child to develop their communication skills and comprehension, meaning it is not exclusive for those with communication problems or learning difficulties. It allows very young children to use gestures to communicate, reducing their frustrations before they go on to develop language skills, as well as children with English as an Additional Language(EAL).

Many children watch Mr Tumble in Something Special on CBeebies as well as Singing Hands which are fun ways to learn Makaton. There are many resources available both on the Makaton website and in books, apps, and free downloadable resources. Makaton is not just for children, as many adults use signs and symbols throughout their lives. Age-appropriate resources are available that support life events and transitions at each stage. 

Makaton Symbols in our Plus Editions

The Makaton Symbols are black and white drawings associated with a sign and word or words. Makaton Symbol add-ons are available to use exclusively in our Plus Editions and only if you have both a paid subscription to Special Words Plus as well as a Makaton Membership.

There are three Makaton Membership types:

  • Free 
  • Standard 
  • Premium

The resources in Special Words Plus are dependent upon your Makaton Membership level. If you move up from a free to paid membership you will be access more resources and if you move down membership levels you will then have reduced access. 

This first phase of Makaton resources include resources at a one Makaton Symbol and one-word level.  Use the matching activities Special Words Plus to match Makaton Symbols, word and audio.

To view and use Makaton resources in our Plus Editions you need to login to your Makaton Membership to access your key to unlock them. Once unlocked they remain available to use within these apps only if you continue to have both a valid Special iApps subscription as well as valid Makaton Membership. Please refer to our FAQs for more information.

Please note: Makaton resources are currently available for use in the UK only, however there are plans to extend outside the UK. 

Available Resources

There are a range of Makaton resources available to downloadable, with the availability of each dependent upon your level of Makaton Membership.

Free Membership:

There are 3 resources available which have symbols taken from all membership levels as examples. All are based on a one-word/one-symbol level.

  • Special iApps Default Words is based on the Special Words default profile word list which includes over 90 symbols on a one-word level of vocabulary that children first learn to understand, speak or sign. The list includes words used for early communication and features Makaton Symbols for nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions.
  • Early Years Symbol Vocabulary​ has 12 Makaton Symbols taken from Core Vocabulary which includes mummy, daddy, hello, goodbye, drink, eat, naughty, good, no, yes, home and sleep.
  • High Frequency Words​ is 13 high frequency words learned by children in Reception Class (a, and, he, I, in, is, it, my, that, the, was, went, went, with). Using Makaton Symbols to support learning High Frequency words is ideal as these words commonly can’t be pictorially shown with a drawing or a picture but there are existing Makaton Symbols that represent these high frequency and tricky words.


Standard Membership:

This membership level has access to the Makaton Core Vocabulary and Living and Learning, which is 450 concepts covering the essentials of everyday life. There are over 20 add-ons available to download into Special Words Plus which cover:

  • Communication - symbols and word lists to support everyday communication including colours, questions, greetings and emotions, food and drink, and toys
  • Literacy - letters of the alphabet with the A-Z symbols of a person, man or woman
  • Numeracy - learn maths language, money symbols and numbers 1-10
  • People - word lists featuring people who help us and family members
  • Places - features symbols& and word lists used around the home, garden, at the farm, birthday party, staying in hospital, school and work, town and transport


Coming Soon

Premium Membership:

With the Makaton Premium Membership there are over 10,000 concepts with the option to use over 160 downloadable add-ons to use in Special Words Plus. This membership gives access to all other wordlists from the previous membership levels as well as Makaton Symbol vocabulary with new concepts including:

  • Animals makaton-premium.jpg
  • Colours
  • Communication
  • CVC Words
  • CVCC Words
  • Early Vocabulary
  • Food and Drink 
  • Geography
  • Letter Patterns
  • Literacy
  • makaton-premium-bus.jpgMakaton Signing for Babies
  • Money
  • Numeracy 
  • Nursery Rhymes
  • People and Places
  • Places and Transport
  • School and Work
  • Science
  • The Body
  • Time

Downloadable resources are symbol and words pairs to support communication but in addition several wordlists have been created that support phonics and speech sounds by grouping symbols by word patterns and sounds:

  • Consonants 
  • Phonics lists 
  • Rhyming words
  • Vowels

The Makaton Charity

We have made these resources available in collaboration with The Makaton Charity and Makaton Ambassadors. A special thank you to Beverley Dean MBE Special iApps C.I.C., Hannah Anderson The Makaton Charity, and Makaton Ambassadors: Amica Coleman, Amanda Glennon and Kerry Cawley who were involved in the creation of these resources.

You can read more information about The Makaton Charity and browse a range of resources to support communication and learning from their website.

Download Our Plus Apps 

The resources above are available exclusively for Special Words Plus. We offer a free 14 day trial which you can sign up for below:

Special Words Plus trial

Our Plus apps are also available for schools, charities and organisations. If you would be interested in using our apps to support your students, please get in touch.

Have an Idea for a Resource?

We have many more resources coming soon. If there is a particular resource you would like to see, or think some of our existing resources need enhancements or updates, we'd love to hear from you. Send us your ideas to support@specialiapps.org.