My 10 Favorite Reinforcers for Speech Therapy

I love to play games as much as the next gal, but sometimes when teaching a skill, doing progress monitoring, or conducting an assessment, I need to do drills or… less exciting tasks. And let’s face it, it can be hard to mix it up when you’ve been working on similar tasks for awhile. Mixing up the reinforcers you use for your activities can spice things up and make things exciting and engaging again, even when you’re working with familiar, nonseasonal materials! Here are some of my favorite reinforcers for my speech therapy activities.

Mini Erasers: Okay, I know these are pretty hyped up on Instagram and it seems like you can’t escape from hearing about them, but I promise there is a reason! You can use them in so many different ways, they’re inexpensive, and it’s a super easy way to make any activity seasonal! I use them to have kids mark answers, count productions, and even to put in sensory bins! The kids can find the erasers and then mark the word they are working on. Super simple for me, but my kids love when I switch out mini erasers every season!

Clickers: These are a new discovery for me. They’re technically called hand tally counters… but in my speech room, we call them clickers. I have a pack of these in different colors and let my kids pick their favorite color to use. For articulation, I’ll have them click the button for every correct production. I’ll usually tell them a goal I want them to reach, and it makes the activity so engaging! I’ll also hold a clicker and participate so there’s an element of competition! For social skills, I’ll click for eye contact, reciprocal questions, appropriate comments, listening skills… whatever we are working on! They’re super motivating and don’t require any prep! You could even switch out the colors for the season to make it themed!

Homemade Magic Wands: This is also a new discovery for me and I am loving how easy they were to make! I bought colorful paper straws from the party section at target. I also had some sparkly star garlands from target, but you could also just cut stars out of construction paper. I put the straw in between two sides of the star and stapled on either side. Poof! A magic wand has appeared and it took you hardly any time at all! I let the kids pick which color wand they want, and use that to point to their answers on receptive language tasks, like following directions, sentence comprehension, and identifying vocabulary words. Tasks are way more engaging and it adds a new element to your work!

Magnets: I know you’ve probably seen these all over, but they’re so great that I had to share them here. Now, you could totally get the magnetic chips from Super Duper along with their magnetic wand, but you could totally use other magnets too! My kids get a kick out of picking up pens, paperclips, binder rings, and more! We love to discover what is magnetic. For reinforcers, I use magnetic chips to cover targets we’ve completed. Once the whole page is full, they get to pick up the chips from the paper. At the end of the session, we can explore the room and find what other objects can be picked up by wand! It turns a regular session into a mini science lesson!

Dot Markers: I love doing art during speech, but I do not like prepping huge crafts or using my whole session cutting and gluing! That’s where dot markers come in. These are so great for print-and-go activities because they instantly make everything look like a craft, and you can send home their work for homework AND to put on the refrigerator! I use dot markers to mark targets we’ve completed, or just to count how many words we’ve done! You could use a blank sheet of paper and have the student put a dot on the page for each correct production. You can also use these to work on requesting and labeling colors! Super versatile and fun!

Play-Doh: I can’t forget Play-Doh when talking about reinforcers! My kids will request doing smash mat activities, which is perfect because they also target their goals! I use Play-Doh a lot with smash mats, which are basically sheets of pictures of their articulation or language targets. The kids roll up the Play-Doh into a ball, put it on the word, and smash it on the paper. Kids are super motivated to do this activity, and you can also target following directions! You can also use Play-Doh mold pictures of their words! Plus, it smells awesome. Or… maybe that’s just me. Anyone else?

Slime: My kids LOVE slime. Rather than just squish it in our hands, I love to use slime as a reinforcer during drilling tasks! I like to use it with mini objects, but you can also use it with regular articulation or language flash cards! My kids will say the word/target X amount of times, then stick the object/card in the slime. For some reason, sticking cards in slime is way more exciting than just saying words!

Buttons: Buttons are great reinforcers because they come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors! For Valentine’s Day, I used heart shaped buttons and they were a huge hit! I use buttons basically the same way that I use mini erasers. While you cover each word, you can also work on requesting different colors, sizes, and shapes as well as describing each button! I love reinforcers that can also target multiple goals!

Mini Clothespins: I love using clothespins because they are motivating, colorful, and great for working on fine motor skills! I use clothespins to mark answers when there are multiple choices, or to clip on paper to count how many words we have done! You can also use them to work on following directions, colors, and prepositions (put on, take off, put it next to the picture, etc.). It would be so fun to make your own custom clothespins, too! You can have kids pick a button, bead, or pompom to glue on their clothespins to make them unique!

Dry-Erase Markers: So many of my kids love using dry-erase markers because they are relatively mess-free and can be used on the table, page protectors, laminated resources, and white boards! I like to use dry-erase markers to cross off target words, circle pictures during receptive tasks, and to check off tasks as we complete them! Another fun way that I use these is for articulation. I write articulation words on a page protector. After we say each word, the student can erase the word. Once the page is empty, we’re done!

I hope you got some ideas for new reinforcers to use during speech! I am always looking for new ideas so please let me know if you use other items for reinforcers!