I couldn't resist joining up with Speech Room News' latest linky party. Not only has thrift store shopping always been something I enjoy, it has also helped me turn a bare bones speech room into one well-stocked creativity center. The students that I serve are among some of the most envied in the building, simply because they get to visit that crazy speech lady with all the cool toys.
1. My most favorite thrift store find are books. You can target so many goals with books while opening the eyes of your students to new things. They provide a unifying thread to pull group sessions together in a way that many other activities don't accomplish. Plus, many SLPs on Teachers Pay Teachers have started creating book companions that can help give beginning SLPs a good starting point for themed therapy sessions with groups.
Books typically run me about .49 cents to $2.00 at my area thrift stores. This is much cheaper than what you can find at a book fair or Scholastic Warehouse sale.
One of my utmost favorite finds is The Umbrella.
2. Deal or No Deal. I wrote a post about how I use this particular game a little over a year ago. It is still one of my most favorite activities for articulation groups. (Best $2 I have ever spent!) My students are very motivated by the play money and suspense.
3. Puppets. Although puppets seem to have fallen out of favor as children's toys go, I still find them to be an extremely powerful therapy tool. I started out using a snake puppet to model the /s/ sound during my CFY and my collection continues to grow as I come across them at the thrift stores. My one warning is that not all puppets are made equal. The dollar store kind are good for when you first start out, but I really try hard to find ones that are made by Folkmanis. They are incredibly expensive so I don't mind paying $3 for one at Goodwill.
You can use puppets (and stuffed animals) to target many basic language goals, role playing social skills, teaching phonemic awareness, and articulation. They also play a big role in animated literacy activities.
This is my favorite puppet. I got him at Goodwill for $3 in like new condition. He costs $31 brand new.
P.S. You can get some really good deals on furniture and glassware from thrift stores too. Many items in the antique stores around my area were actually thrift store purchases. (When you go to Goodwill as much as I do, you learn which shoppers are antique dealers quite quickly lol.)