I was looking through my bookshelves in my office yesterday and lamenting the fact that I have purchased a number of “speech therapy materials”–notebooks on writing, norm charts, activities etc–and they are just collecting dust. Then I thought, “What Do I use that I couldn’t live without?”

My little foam shapes came to mind. I actually got a huge Ziploc bag of them at a tag sale for about 10 cents, thinking they would be great for art projects that reinforced stories. Recently I put them in a little clear plastic case form my iPhone charger to transport them to my clients. For some reason kids love them.

I use them as¬†reinforcers for everything. With 5 year-old Ryan we use them for description as he gives me clues for a word he is thinking of that begins with a specific consonant (rock, rain, rainbow or rug). As each of us guesses correctly we add a foam shape to our pile. Oh, I forgot to tell you that before we start we predict how many shapes we will earn in that activity. Kids think this is exciting as they try to beat their prediction. I use them with 5 year-old Jake who has language processing difficulties as we brainstorm items that belong in a category–“What goes with winter?”–snow, ice skates, ice, mittens etc. Yep, every time you tell what goes in a category you add a foam piece to the pile. Our record is 20 pieces we got for “winter.” We are still trying to beat that record. I’ve used them to teach description, function, beginning sounds, and association.

What are great materials you have used that cost next to nothing? Let’s share:)