I love a GREAT FIND.  In fact, I spend too much on my little treasures but I use them so I figure in the end the amount I save is more than the amount I spend (I know, I'm a "retail therapy -therapy materials fanatic").   This is where I go to find "My Precious" (Yes, that was a Lord of the Rings reference you should have heard in your head) therapy material treasures:

TARGET DOLLAR SPOT (99 cent store, Dollar Tree, etc..)-  Okay, most of us know to check there regularly.  If you don't, I can not stress to you enough to check it out! The cue little felt book in the picture is from the dollar spot at Target.  I also found the cute bunny wand (it lights up like a strobe light and my kiddos with sensory needs will LOVE IT) there too!  I have found a lot of my sensory toys in this section along with some goodies for my speech organization needs.

GOODWILL-  I go there so often that my daughter asks to go with me all of the time!  I have found two Cariboo games there, Zingo game, and an Operation Brain Surgery Game.  In fact, I have found a lot of my games there.  Just be sure to open and make sure the pieces are all there.  Sometimes they are not.  Also, if you go and you do not find anything of interest just try again a different day or at a different location.  When I was looking for my first Cariboo game it took me 6 months!  I had a routine where I went to three different Goodwill locations every weekend during that time.  However, once I found the first, I found a second one two weeks later (I gave that second one to my CFY at the time).  You can also find cute books there!

SAVERS-  Do you know Savers?  Do you have one where you live?  Savers is similar to a cross between a thrift store and a dollar store. I have found a few good toys for therapy there.  Especially little bags of manipulatives.  However, the best find I have found at Savers were the storybooks for therapy. It takes a while to sift through all of the shelves of books but I found it was well worth my time! 

THRIFT STORES-  I do not stop at Goodwill alone.  If I drive by a thrift store I will STOP.  It never hurts to look and I found my third Cariboo game at a small Christian organization thrift store.  It cost a little more than at Goodwill but it was still significantly less than online.  Also, it went to a good cause so it was a WIN-WIN!

CRAIGSLIST-  This one I say to proceed with caution.  The good news is that you can see pictures of items that people have.  The bad news is that you just need to be safe about the deal that you make.  Have them bring the item outside, do not go alone if you can help it, and just be cautious.  I guess, I'm not a trusting person.  I put ads on Craigslist also but I always make sure that my husband is around when I plan to meet up and I always go outside to the person who comes over.

FACEBOOK-  Yes, you read that right.  Did you know there are a lot of Facebook groups featuring swap meets, personal garage sales, and items that people are simply putting up for sale.  I find many teachers and fellow SLPS put their stuff up on Facebook.  I've been tempted but sometimes it just takes too long to clean the closet if I did it personally.  You can find some wonderful sales that way though! Look up groups and pages within your area that also have the keywords: Donate, Sell, Swap, Garage Sale.  Just use caution when meeting up via Facebook too.

YARD/GARAGE SALES-  In the day, I was a yard sale weekender.  Not so much now that I have a little I have to get from point A to B to C.  However, as I chauffeur her around and see yard sales in the neighborhoods, I will pull over to check it out or drive slowly to look (as long as it is safe to do so).  My neighbor is notorious for having a yard sale every weekend.  They also have several kids so the kid stuff is always out.  How is that for door to door service.  I do LOVE that! 
 
PARENTS & COLLEAGES-  When I say parents, I mean our student's parents.  However, my own mother is a Yard Sale Diva and has called me on several occasions to see if I can use a certain item or two for therapy that she finds at yard sales.  I have also been fortunate to have parents donate toys and games to me.  After explaining to colleagues how I incorporate them, I have had colleagues donate too!  Plus, if you are a parent yourself, be sure to save those certain items that you think could be helpful in therapy.  I do not personally go about asking my parents or colleagues for donations but at times it has come up such as when they are moving or talking about donating books and toys to goodwill that their child no longer uses. I will bring it up then and inform them nicely that I appreciate any donations they may have that I might be able to use for therapy. 

Why spend so much on new items when you can find great treasures given a little time in a search?  Do you know of another great resource to find treasures?   I'd love to hear where else you have found great finds for speech!

I know that for many of us, we get to a point where we are internally diagnosing or assessing our communication partner's speech or tongue posture.  For example, my husband (and initially my daughter) have a bit of a tongue thrust and it makes me want to reach over and snatch that tongue (only kidding... kind of).  When my daughter's friends come over and speak with me, I am always analyzing their speech patterns ("Ahh.. she is still fronting and reducing consonant blends").  It is enough to drive my husband crazy.  It is just part of me now.  With that being said, I still audio record.  This is why....

MY FOCUS IS MY CLIENT - I want all of my attention to be on the interaction with the child or adult in front of me.  If I am playing with a child to get a natural speech and language sample, obtaining a narrative from a teenager who stutters, or holding a conversation with an adult, I do not want to ruin the flow of the session, screening, or assessment by pulling my attention away to write down what they say.  First, I would find it incredibly rude as an adult if someone did that to me.  Secondly, it ruins the spontaneity of the moment.  It impacts the relationship and trust that I am building with my communication partner.

I JUST CAN'T CATCH IT ALL - I would like to think that I am pretty quick but I know if I do not record, I will miss things I am not even looking for. For example, I may be listening for articulation and phonology with a little friend and missing all of the language (vocabulary, verb tenses, adjectives, articles, etc..) that they are providing me.  I had one little come in with "limited language" and just overall difficult to understand.  I was playing with her on the floor and had out certain toys to get a wide variety of speech sampled.  My recorder was on while we played and I focused my attention to her.  When I went back to listen to the recording to evaluate her speech sample, I was amazed at the vast amount of language she used.  She was not "limited" by any means.  She had made amazing growth and we now needed on turning our attention on increasing her intelligibility. 

I CAN LISTEN AGAIN AND AGAIN -  Sometimes, I find that my ears are just plain wrong.  I can be speaking with one of my students and keep a general checklist in my head.  Such as, I heard part-word repetition, sound repetition, interjections, etc.. However, when I go to do a complete analysis of the speech sample, I will find that I missed some prolongations or revisions. Having the recorders on, allows me multiple opportunities to listen and make sure my analysis of the speech or language sample is accurate. 

I still use my old recorder as back up to my iPhone recorder.  I am not so trusting with technology and I would rather have a back up than to only use one mode to record and lose it all due to an error, malfunction, or a curious kiddo that likes to play with technology and accidentally turns it off (yes, I have had that happen a few too many times). When I am working with school age children, super curious preschoolers, or adults, I always inform them that I will be recording and why (for the kids, I explain that I'm just old and my ears do not work so well). I have never had any one object to my recording or ask too many questions. The free recorder app I have found the most success with is Voice Recorder by TapMedia Ltd.

There are some great apps that have built in recorders such as Little Bee's Articulation Station Pro, Articulate It by Smarty Ears, and Outdoor Fun by Virtual Speech Center Inc. When the using an app that has the built in recorder, I use only one other recorder as an on going back up.  I just learned a long time ago that no matter how decent I think I am at catching what is said and how it is said, I just can not get it all.  To be able to provide details while progress monitoring, or evaluating I strongly suggest always having a back up and record.

What do you use to record?


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