As SLPs, we do it all. We write goals, collect data, conduct informal assessments constantly, we’re behavior police, we listen, we hold meetings, we write ALL THE IEPs. Basically, we’re rock stars. Yet somehow, there is somehow this pressure (probably put on ourselves, from ourselves) to have Pinterest-perfect therapy sessions, color coordinate everything, spend hours making everything perfect, and send home treats for every holiday.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Now, I’m not hating on working hard at our jobs, making things visually pleasing, and creating fun activities for our students. What I don’t have time for is pressure to do it all, all the time. I love materials that play double duty, simple activities that work for a variety of speech or language goals, and shortcuts so I have time to do what really matters. For me that’s giving quality, fun speech therapy while loving on my kids, and then going home and spending time with my family. Here are a few of my go-to time-savers.
Play dough and play dough alternatives
It’s a classic. You can make food for pretend play, work on verbs like roll, squish, stack, write target sounds in it, model words, practice requesting, and on and on! It’s cheap, easy to haul around on the go…you can’t go wrong. I like to mix it up with other building materials too. My kids love Floof. It’s soft and almost fluffy, but still stretches and can mold into shapes, and sticks to itself for easy clean up. It’s also great for sensory bins or sensory snow activities in winter. I’ve also used sensory sand, or “liquid sand” (like this or this). There are so many cool things out there now…I know slime is really popular right now, and these look great to throw in your bag without taking up a lot of space.
I LOVE these from Amazon. Perfect when I forget to laminate, when the copier’s tied up, or to save paper! Stick in a worksheet, (even the original!) use with a dry erase marker, erase, and reuse. Total time-saver.
I’ve said it before here, but I LOVE books for therapy. It’s time saving because there is literally no prep. Sure, you can do extension activities and worksheets to go along with a story, but there is so much in the book itself to keep my students and I busy for a while! We’ll practice our target words, ask and answer wh-questions, retell the story to a friend (with the friend following along in the book to double check…students love being in the teacher role!). If we want to write things down, there’s a whiteboard for that! There is nothing wrong with keeping things simple. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or you’re a bad therapist. It means you know what your students need to learn and you know how to use your time efficiently! Also, search and find books are speech therapy GOLD. I made a freebie visual to go along with search and find books in my TpT store here. And if you missed it in the last post, my Pinterest board for the best picture books for older readers is here!
A Solid App
I love having a fun, engaging activity I can use as a reinforcer, and add in whatever goal is needed for each of my kids. Having the same basic lesson plan for my entire caseload and modifying as necessary is a HUGE timesaver. The ultimate time save is when that activity is absolutely zero prep. Having a few go-to apps in my back pocket are great for times I want to mix it up without spending a lot of time preparing. I love the cookie making, pizza making, cake pop making, and basically any other food you could imagine making apps. I always get the free ones and just monitor closely to make sure one one’s clicking on an ad that will make another page pop up and waste time! I’ve used several different apps and they all are very similar, although this one is nice for the real pictures. Goals like turn-taking, sequencing, and following directions are almost naturally addressed with activities like this, but I will also use a turn on the iPad as a reinforcer after a couple turns of saying words, doing flashcards, or whatever other “speech” activity we are working on in therapy.
What are some of your favorite time-saving therapy tools?