Second Hand Treasures: Games and Other Fun Stuff for Speech Therapy

November 9, 2016 BY Kathleen Callaghan, CCC-SLP

We’re back with the second part in our series on thrift store treasures for speech therapy (you can read the first part here)! Today, we’ll focus on second hand games and other fun stuff to keep an eye out for. 

second hand games


Every SLP knows that having a variety of quick, familiar, and durable games are a must have for a well-stocked therapy room. Below are a list of our favorites that we find regularly at second-hand stores.

Connect 4

Play it the traditional way with older kids who are working on articulation skills OR bring out the board and play non-traditionally with younger kids who don’t quite get the patterning rules. Little guys just like to put the chips in and make patterns, or try to beat you by getting all their color chips in before yours. Its  super simple motivating game for all ages. You can also use it in pretend play with the little guys.  We have turned the Connect 4 board into an “oven” and used the chips as “cookies” that need to bake.  When they’re done, we release all the “cookies” and eat them all up.  Even better if you have a puppet around who wants to gobble them up with your client.  

Guess Who (treasure find: Guess Who Extra, which has bonus boards!) 

While slightly tricky for the preschool set to understand, this is a great game for older kids who are working on perspective taking skills, asking/answering yes/no and WH questions (grammar and/or pragmatics), describing words, attending to details, using grammatically correct sentences, comparing/contrasting, listening skills, and negation.  In addition, these is a great game for working on /s and z/ or /r/ when transitioning from simple sentences to more conversational speech.  You can sometimes find customized boards/cards that other SLPs have made to target specific skills (try Google, Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers). This theoretically could be played as a team-based game if you are working with more than one child.


This riddle game works on much of the same skills as Guess Who, although in our opinion it works better as a group game than Guess Who (e.g. one person wears the hat and the others provide descriptions, or one person holds the card and gives clues while the rest of the group guesses).


While you might be tempted to think of this game as only for the preschool set, there are some older kids who have such fond memories of it that they want to play it too!  You can play the traditional way for sure, and target turn-taking, articulation (/k,g,  l, dz/ are repetitive sounds in the game), basic concepts such as colors and numbers, following directions, and emotional regulation (e.g. winning versus losing). It’s also a perfect (read: fast and easy) motivating game for individuals or groups when you need to collect data, allowing you to quickly present each child with a task, have them complete it, and then take their turn.  Alternatively and non-traditionally, we will often just pull out the board and half-heartedly play it while spending more time building vocabulary and narrative skills by talking about all of the characters, places, and candy in the game, and building stories about each one.

Chutes and Ladders

Much the same as Candyland, although we would obviously target /ch, sl, and l/ as articulation goals.  Kids love to talk about the scenes depicted on the board, which provide a great opportunity to talk about cause-and-effect, and consequences of our decisions.  Also a good, quick motivating turn-taking game when you need to collect data, and can also work on concepts such as up/down (opposites), pronouns, and narrative skills.

Other Fun (and Useful) Stuff



We all know the beauty and power of books in speech-language therapy.  So there’s no need to go into all that here. But books that we see regularly at second hand stores are Eric Carle titles, flap books, and board books. A real score are the Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books – we have snagged a handful of these for $2 each and they come in handy with all ages as they are the most hilarious books ever written.


Along those lines, second hand stores are a great place to find a wide selection of journals and notebooks. These are perfect for creative projects, writing skills, narrative/story-telling activities, etc.  And the beauty is – they are so cheap that each child can have their own that they can take home at the end of the year!


While technically not for kids, binders are an easy find at second-hand stores and can be used for office organization!  Create binders to hold stuttering resources, file homework ideas, categorize all the graduate school and PD materials for easy access, and organize activities/materials for specific speech and language goals.


What do you think? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! And stay tuned in a couple of weeks when we share our favorite super rare second hand finds.