Must-Haves for the Elementary SLP Starting Out

I was incredibly fortunate that my first job out of grad school was a clinic with a wealth of materials and amazing clinicians for me to learn from. I got to use many high quality, evidence-based treatment and assessment tools as well as learn from the creativity and ingenuity of my co-workers. The two years I spent in that setting really helped me when I transitioned to an elementary school. My school had some resources, but like many other speech rooms across the country, it was pretty empty at first. However, because of my experience in the clinic, I knew how to get the most out of the resources I had and which “must-haves” I needed to add to my collection. My school didn’t have any money in their budget for special education, but I requested funds from our amazing PTO and received some funds through Medicaid that I was able to use on speech-language resources.

However, many new grads are left scrambling when they are placed in settings without a lot of resources. Just like teachers, SLP’s often end up spending their own money on treatment activities and materials. It’s hard to come up with money for materials, especially when you’re a new grad and have licensing, accreditation, and professional development to pay for, unless you’re lucky enough to work for an organization that helps with some of those costs. $150 is about the maximum amount that I was able to spare when just starting out. With that budget in mind, here are my recommendations for the must-have resources for the brand-new elementary SLP:

  • 1-2 board games (check Goodwill and summer garage sales for board games in good condition. For the preschool crowd, Caribou is my favorite, and for the elementary age-group, I like Trouble.)
  • Bubbles (I’d recommend a no-spill container!)
  • Play doh
  • A set of articulation pictures (Webber cards are nice for game play, but a little more expensive – $15 per target sound deck. I’d recommend buying a book with all the target sounds to start out. You can always cut out pictures and make your own deck of cards for go fish, memory, etc. You can also laminate a page from the book and play BINGO. I like No Glamour Articulation, $43.95.)
  • A laminator and a good pair of scissors – If the school and/or clinic where you work doesn’t have a laminator, I’d recommend investing in one. All of the free resources you find online (see below for my recommendations!) will last much longer if they’re laminated! You can buy a laminator for anywhere between $15-$100.
  • Sequencing pictures – sequencing pictures are so versatile for language skills – you can target “wh” questions, a variety of grammatical structures, increasing MLU, adjectives, and more. There are many sets available. I like this set for $10.

FREE resources – After investing a solid $100-150 on the materials listed above, the savvy and budget-conscious SLP would be wise to take advantage of these free resources:

  • The library – literacy-based language intervention is a huge part of treatment for the school-age population. Take advantage of your school, district, or community library!
  • Teachers Pay Teachers – Each teacher-seller has at least 1 free resource in their Tpt Store. In my store, I have several, including a KWLS chart,  writing checklists, and WH Question Bingo Game. Check out all my freebies here. Speechy Musings put together a list of favorite Tpt freebies for SLP’s in 2013. I’m sure many, many more free resources have been added since then, but this list would be a good place to start! I’d like to put together my own list of favorite freebies in a future post. This is where that laminator will come in handy!
  • Pinterest – Pinterest is a great place to find ideas as well as materials. Some will be free and some won’t be. You can follow my speech path board (link here) for therapy ideas!
  • Author websites – Jan Brett has tons of free printables on her website that I use all the time (The Mitten is one of my all-time favorite books to use in therapy!). If you’re using a certain text with your students, just google the author’s name. They might have great extension activities on their website!
  • Scholastic has tons of printable reading comprehension passages and questions.
  • Mommy Speech Therapy has great articulation worksheets – all for free!
  • has free reading passages with comprehension questions and lesson plans by grade level for grades K-12. Totally free when you create an account! I use Readworks all the time!

What are your must-have resources? Have you spent your own money on materials? If money wasn’t an object, what would you invest in for your speech room? What are your favorite free resources? I’d love to know – leave me a comment!



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