Why I Tossed My Decks of Cards

Don’t worry. I didn’t throw out hundreds of dollars of therapy materials. 🙂

Here’s what actually happened…

My first therapy room was brimming with materials. I felt like I had every therapy material out of every catalog I ever looked at! I had shelves filled with therapy decks.

When I moved out of state, I was given a completely fresh slate. My therapy room was empty (with the exception of a few games).

First, I started to panic…

How am I going to do therapy without all of my stuff?!

But then I realized… I don’t need all that!

After some trial and error at my previous job, I started implementing curriculum- and literacy-based (i.e., contextualized) therapy.

I wasn’t using those materials anyway.

I no longer had a lot of materials on my shelves, and it ended up being a good thing!

• Students were no longer distracted by piles of materials floating around my room.
• I felt less overwhelmed.
• It was easier to plan for therapy.
• My students were making more progress!

Therapy Without Materials?!

Okay, okay. I did have some materials.

The best part about contextualized therapy is that it’s really easy to find free materials!

The library was filled with picture books (which I paired to match what my students’ were learning in the classroom).

I was also able to pull curriculum-based activities (e.g., a reading passage, a research paper, etc.) from the classroom.

That’s pretty much all I needed to plan my therapy sessions! *

How is that Therapy?

Great question.

If we’re just using the curriculum, aren’t we teachers (not speech/language pathologists)?

The good news is that we can use our therapy toolbox (the one we worked so hard to build in graduate school) in just about any context.

It can be a little uncomfortable to step away from what we’ve always known.

After all, a therapy deck and board game reinforcer were definitely not uncommon therapy choices as I went through my training!

Sidenote: There is a time and a place for this kind of therapy. (I know, right?! If only things could be black and white.) This is where clinical judgment comes in–that mushy skill we worked so hard to build!

I found that I was able to make a more significant impact on my students’ when I stepped out of my “card deck/board game” therapy box.

The best part? It doesn’t have to be hard!

That said, I know it can be overwhelming to think about making that shift.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way (and learned a lot, too!). I’m so excited to share what I’ve found with you. We can do this together!

* More on this soon! Stay tuned! 🙂


Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

Reader Interactions


  1. Brittney says

    I just moved to a new state and my schools items do not have many materials. So, this is so exciting and I can’t wait to hear more!

  2. Rebecca Knipp says

    I’ve been at this for a LONG time and having the right materials and keeping organized has always been an issue. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Allison says

    What did you do with your decks of cards? Donate them? Pass them on? I’m ready to get rid of mine but feel bad just recycling them. I haven’t used the artic decks since I started at my school 3.5 years ago.

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