Written By: Belinda Worley MS-SLP-CCC


Hello my therapy friends!  I have a very important question for you… are you like me, and absolutely go bananas when a new therapy catalog comes in the mail? I cannot tell you the excitement that comes over me when I open the mailbox, only to see the latest and greatest in therapy games, tools, equipment, and supplies.  Some of my most favorite catalogs include:

  1. Beyond Play
  2. Super Duper Publications
  3. Different Roads
  4. Lakeshore
  5. Mindware
  6. Hearth Song
  7. Speech Corner
  8. Fun and Function
  9. Talk Tools
  10. Constructive Playthings
  11. Young Explorers
  12. Flag House


The only problem with these amazing companies that I love and adore, is that with the catalogs filled with endless therapy resources, comes at a hefty price tag of which quickly breaks the therapy budget.  I learned early in my career that I needed to get creative and plan fun activities, but I did not have an endless amount of money to spend.  Below are a few simple items that I use daily in my therapy sessions that will indeed make therapy fun, but they will not break the bank.  If you ever heard me speak there are 2 things that I say are a MUST for the children we serve, and especially for children on the autism spectrum.

1. Did you make the activity visual?

2. Did you get their body ready to learn?



6 Low Budget Therapy Activities



#1 Blue Tape

I take pictures of everything.  Any activity we do I always make it visual.  Our children must know what is expected and using visuals is key in the classroom, therapy sessions, or in the home setting.  Another way I make my sessions visual is by using blue painters tape.  It is an easy and affordable way to make the world visual for our kiddos.  With blue tape, they know where to sit, stand, go, move etc. I use movement in all activities. I like to use blue tape on the floor to show the children where they walk or maybe jump from shape to shape.  During speech therapy, of course we are targeting functional communication skills, but throw the table and chairs out the window and lets teach our children through movement by making it visual with blue tape. 

You can also use blue tape to rescue common objects.  The children get to  use their fine motor skills to peal the blue tape off of the object to rescue what is behind it.  Here I am showing you farm animals, but you can do this with any common object, puzzles pieces, magnets, letters or numbers.  Whatever concept you are targeting, you can simply tape to the wall.  This is an activity that is a hit every session.



#2 Clothes Pens and/or Potato Chip Clips

I like to use my blue tape to tape flashcards to a wall or door.  I then encourage my children to “squeeze the clip” putting it on the labeled card.  I might say, “Find the boy that is eating.”  The child then puts the clip on the card.  They are tall kneeling, which my PT friends love.  They are bringing their hands to midline and putting the clip on the card, which my OT friends appreciate.  Finally we are targeting language.  You can do this activity with whatever speech and language skill you are targeting.



#3 Velcro and a Fly Swatter

I like to put Velcro on a fly swatter.  I then put Velcro on flashcards of the concept I am targeting.  I love using this activity as an opportunity to get in some quality tummy time.  I get on the floor with my child too, we label the card, then WACK!  They love using the flyswatter to pick up the card after we have talked about it.  Such a fun activity for all ages.  My kids working on articulation really enjoy this activity as opposed to boring old articulation drill work.



#4 Muffin Tin Race

Flashcards can get super boring and just remember some of our kiddos have been in therapy for many years.  I have many clear tubs I fill with common objects and rice.  My children dig to find the object, label it and then put it in the muffin tin.  They understand that once they have labeled 12 objects the activity is finished and they can move about.  I give them a quick break then we label 12 more.  You can then repeat the activity as many times as you wish.  The muffin tin provides a visual of “when will this crazy lady let me get up” and a fun way to label many common objects.  You could also add the use of tongs to this activity as well.  Children could have the choice of digging through the rice with their hands or using tongs to retrieve an object buried in the rice.

You can also fill a large container that has a lid, with common objects and rice.  Now listen friends, I do not let them know this bucket opens.  With my container with a lid we can pass it around at circle time playing I SPY games.  It is a heavy container, due to being filled with rice so it also provides our children with a HEAVY WORK activity that our OT friends will love and appreciate.  Children love “look and find” games and this one is a winner because it is heavy too.

Finally, anytime you hide objects in a sensory tube of rice and beans it is always fun for children.  They love to dig, hide objects and pour.  When doing puzzles I like to hide the pieces in the sensory tub for the children to find.  Incorporating sensory activities is a great way to make puzzle work so much more fun.



#5 Tennis Ball Friend

A tennis ball is a fun way to target drill with articulation or language activities.  After the child produces the sound targeted or maybe answers the question, they get to feed the tennis ball friend.  I use tiny seasonal erasers, buttons, small toys, but a favorite is jewels.  Everyone should add a little sparkle to their sessions.




#6 Fidget or Toy Box – “What would you like to work for?”

Each day you go to work and in return you get a paycheck.  What is your child’s paycheck?  Here you can see my special box filled with all of their favorite things.  I have taken a picture of everything that is inside.  My children are able to see visually what is inside and may a choice of what they would like to play with.  They make a choice of what they want to work for.  Children of all abilities are successful at this activity and I am continuously adding more objects to this special box.



These are just a few of my favorites that I use on a daily basis in my therapy sessions.  I promise therapy can be fun and exciting for your clients without breaking the budget.  If interested, I would love to invite you to join me during one of my live and/or webinar courses focusing on Low Budget Therapy Solutions when serving children on the autism spectrum.  During each class, my goal is to demonstrate more than 50 resources or ideas that you can add to your classroom, therapy, or home setting.  I would also like to invite you to pick up a copy of my recently published book in March 2021, An Autism Journey of Hope, where I share my personal journey with my daughter Emma Kate as well as being filled with resources for teachers, therapists, doctors and parents navigating the world of autism spectrum disorders.



Explore online continuing education courses from Belinda below: 

Low Budget Therapy Solutions

Autism: Across the Spectrum

Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Early Intervention

Visit summit-education.com for more information