Second Hand Treasures: Ultimate Scores for Speech Therapy

January 13, 2017
Kathleen Callaghan, CCC-SLP
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We're back with the third part in our series on second hand treasures for speech therapy (you can read the part 1 here and part 2 here)! Today, we'll focus on the absolute best treasures and ultimate scores to keep your eyes peeled for. 

second hand treasures


Second Hand Treasures

These are the Big Ones. Those items that make your heart flutter when you see them amid the piles of other toys in the shop. If you see any of this stuff, snatch it up!


Most SLPs who work with the pre-school set will tell you that Cariboo (which is now out of print) is a HUGE treasure.  We each have a copy of the game in our therapy rooms, and have printed dozens of sets of homemade Cariboo cards made by other SLPs to target articulation, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and more.  Bouncy balls, mystery boxes, and “buried” treasure - what more could a little want in a game?  And rather than recreate the wheel, we recommend checking out this blog post for tons of ideas of how to use this game in therapy.

Tell Me A Story cards

eeBoo is a terrific brand, and we might even recommend snatching up any game/toy made by them that you find.  But the company’s Tell Me A Story cards are true treasure.  We have used them in evaluations for narrative skills, expressive language, comprehension, and sequencing.  For therapy, the cards are great for all of the above, as well as generalizing articulation from sentence or reading levels to a more structured conversational level.

Jack-in-the-Box (or other “pop up” toys)

When bought new, these can be a bit spendy and they can even be a bit more than you expect at a second hand store. But if you work with toddlers, having one - or a few - around can be a lifesaver, especially when you need to quickly distract them from something else (i.e. mom leaving the room; a hurt knee).  We often will put small objects, like toy animals, in the JIB so that when it pops open there is a new surprise that pops out.  Great for working on early language development (e.g. “ready set...go!,” “pop!,” “more,” “again,” out/in, animal names, etc.)

Wooden play food

Any kind of play food is a great find, but the wooden stuff is the absolute best for durability and the weight and feel. Keep a special eye out for the type you can slice and dice. Check out our video for how we use play food in our practice!

Marble run

An absolute classic and worth every penny. Check out our video for how we use the marble run in our practice!

Fisher Price toys (e.g. Little People)

The real score is vintage Fisher Price Little People toys with all their hiding places, mysterious trap doors, and “conveyer belts.” Kids are fascinated by these features and will stay engaged for a long time testing them out, allowing you the opportunity to work on expanding vocabulary and play skills. Newer FP models also have some motivating features that will engage the littles in your practice. Keep in mind though: research has shown that toys that talk or make sound effects actually result in less language developmentIf you find a great Fisher Price toy that makes noise, we recommend taking out the batteries.


Did we miss your favorite treasure? What's the best toy you've scored second hand? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter. We'll be back next month with the last post in this series, Toys to Avoid. Until then, happy hunting!