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When I was in grad school one of my professors managed to scare my entire class with 2 words, ” No materials.”   When everyone started breathing again, she told us a story of how her grad school professor would go into their therapy rooms and take all of their materials as they were getting their clients. When they got back to their rooms they would find empty tables and have to do their therapy sessions with nothing, nada, the big goose egg!  She promised she wouldn’t do that to us, thank goodness. The point behind it all was that a good SLP can produce effective therapy with nothing at all.


What were they expecting? You to turn into the McGyver of speech therapy and create the funnest session ever using a paper clip, rubber band, and piece of gum you found under the table?  While the concept maybe slightly terrifying, it made me think…could I do therapy with nothing?  We use materials because they help us target goals and offer support for our clients/students.  Let’s face it, they do make our lives a bit easier, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my TpT materials ( obviously ) but the materials don’t make the session or the SLP.  Here are some material-free ways I could think of off the top of my head to conduct therapy…

1.  Play ‘Eye Spy’ – Look around for items that have a sound you are targeting.  You can describe items.  Categorize items or determine what category they may fit in.  Find an item and have it be the key part in a spontaneous story.

2. Take A Walk – Just start walking and see what happens.  Kids like to get chatty when the pressure is off.  Take one of the topics they bring up and run with it!

3. Go Outside – Get out of the 4 walls and see what the great outdoors, or black top playground, has to offer!  Have them follow directions to perform an obstacle course. You could have them describe their favorite outdoor activity or tell you a narrative about it.  How many different categories can you make with what you see?

These are just a few that I thought of and I know there are so many more.   Because of what we do and how we have learned to think about things  we have learned how to harness the inspiration that strikes us and turn it into something!


So if you think you are only an effective SLP because of your materials, stop! If that was the case our education would have consisted of a flow chart, pointing you in the direction of the right material to pick or game to play based on your client’s deficits. But no, we had hours upon hours upon hours of classes and lectures. All-nighters and cramming for exams that would determine the fate of our careers before they even started. The countless hours of observing therapy sessions, planning sessions to be observed, and trying to absorb everything possible during our internships. We are SLPs because we have learned how to think outside of the game board box. We have learned how to apply our vast knowledge to manipulate the manipulatives so that our clients/students can reach their potential.  We are all McGyver… McGyver SLP!

What would you do for a session if you had no materials?

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Meet Maureen

Hey there! I’m Maureen Wilson, a school-base SLP who is data driven and caffeine powered. My passion is supporting other pediatric SLPs by teaching them how to harness the power of literacy and data to help their students achieve their goals…without sacrificing time they don’t have.

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One Response

  1. My school has wonderful technology with interactive white boards and there is one in my room! However, I always have to be prepared to do lessons without it, in case the technology does not work, which happens way more often than I wish it did! Love your ideas of going outside, playing I Spy, etc. I am a former Girl Scout Leader, and know a lot of songs and games that require little to no materials, so I’d dredge those up from my memory and we’d get busy!

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