Unless you’re living totally “off the grid”, I’m going to guess you’ve been to a Target. Most people I know frequent Target; most SLPs I know adore the “Dollar Spot”. It’s the small area near the front of the store with fun toys, accessories, decor, and office supplies for $1, $2, and $3. It’s difficult for me to walk in there and NOT buy something from the $ spot – whether it be for work, my home, or my daughter.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Most SLPs (the lucky ones, at least) are in the thick of summer vacation right now. The last thing they want to be thinking about is work. BUT! The Target $ spot is killin’ it in the toy department right now. So, put aside your summer vacation and take advantage or the adorable therapy materials it has to offer! I promise it will make your life a little easier come September.
Here’s some of what I’ve found recently and how I plan to incorporate it into therapy this summer (because, yes, I work during the summer) and this coming school year.
I love these balance puzzles. They’re great for vocabulary, categories, following directions, positional concepts, labeling, requesting, teamwork, and general reinforcement. My favorite book for the summer is “Commotion in the Ocean”. Between the book, balance puzzle, and mermaid felt book (I believe I got that about 6 months ago) there is tons of overlapping vocabulary. I stretch these materials out over 2-3 weeks because I have so many different objects to use. Multiple representations (visually) of vocabulary is extremely helpful for generalization. Might as well use them all right from the beginning! We pair it with vocabulary on Cariboo as well as expressive language using AAC (core vocal board and Words for Life app pictured). Everyone loves fishing with the Melissa & Doug puzzle!
There have been tons of community helper themed objects, including little sets of 4 wooden figures/vehicles. They’re great for general play, answering questions, following directions, and supporting all of your other 2D materials. I use them with my Cariboo visuals. I love all of the different representations of occupations that all of these toys give. I use the “Find it Fast” cards to formulate sentences (e.g. “I have construction worker.” & “I see veterinarian.” Pretend play with the figures makes the jobs of these people much more concrete. The crossing guard is perfect for back to school time!
Another great find in the $ spot is these alphabet stickers. I cannot take credit for this amazing revelation. A fellow member of an SLP Facebook group, Alisha Pierce-Gutierrez, brought this idea to my attention. She realized that the stickers fit perfectly on your Cariboo game!!! How amazingly convenient is that?! They would be great to use for multisyllabic word practice, among other things. Thanks, Alisha, for sharing this idea with your colleagues and allowing me to share your pictures!
The other day a little friend had been playing with a plastic fire fighter helmet when I went to pick him up. Rather than do the ocean themed therapy that I had planned, we used the wooden figures and felt road set to set up a scene. He used his core vocabulary board to tell me what to do with all of the road signs and buildings (i.e. “put here”). I love that I can use one or many of these items at the same time.
The police and crossing guard sets each come with a boy and a girl. They’re great for working on pronouns! Their dog; her dog/his dog; his police car/her police car. I borrowed the dogs from the vet set and put it with the children from the crossing guard set. This Target shopping takes commitment and a bit of excess 🙂
In addition to the felt roads, they have felt train tracks and road tape. These coordinate with the felt books found in the Dollar Spot a couple of months ago – to do with travel and vehicles. I also found the above pictured wooden vehicle in the $ spot a couple months ago. Whether we are doing categories, pretend play, answering questions, or following directions, I can use any or all of the above materials!
I love felt books and so do my students. Right now they have books to do with nursery rhymes: The Three Little Pigs, Five Little Monkeys, & Goldilocks and the Three Bears (not pictured, because that one seems to be harder to find!). They each have adorable felt pieces for each character. They’re perfect for following directions, basic concepts, and expanding utterances.
Months ago there was also this “Out to Sea” felt book. I plan to use it in September when I do my pirate theme. Every student loves my pirate treasure sensory bin. This is just another tool to use with it! (You can read more about the sensory bin here.) A great book to use during pirate week with older students is “The Pirate Who Couldn’t Say Arrr!”. I used to use this book and the companion I made for it, found here, all the time when I treated elementary aged students.
The last thing I found, that I haven’t heard many people freaking out over in Facebook SLP groups, is this “word building board”. I think it can be useful, even when not working on spelling. I got the 3-letter word board only, but they had 4- and 5-letter word ones also. With my preschoolers, I plan to use this to segment words, blend words, target final consonant deletion, and other phonological processes. It came with magnets for letters of the alphabet (one of each consonant, two of each vowel) and small picture magnets of 3-letter CVC, VC, and CV words. I can use the board’s setup and magnet tiles for any picture I decide to target, not just the ones that come with the board.
That’s just some of my haul in recent weeks. I hope you enjoy searching your Target for these great therapy tools!