Have you ever wished for extra arms while conducting speech therapy? Who can forget those early days of SLP training and starting of clinical hours. At the time, it seemed impossible to manage everything. I wished for more hands to manage materials, data taking tools, and especially the young clients. If you turned your back, your clients had control of the materials and you became an octopus trying to get them back. This was not a good start to the session.
I got to thinking about the hacks I discovered along the way that made a difference. A grab bag was one of my real life savers. If you haven’t discovered the virtues of a grab bag you have really missed out.
There are lots of advantages to using a grab bag. A bag allows for control of the materials and prevents students from helping themselves to items before you are ready to use them. It allows for controlled turn taking. Only the person with the bag has access to the items. They take items one by one before handing it on to the next person.
It creates intrigue for some students who would not otherwise be interested. Who doesn’t like discovering what is hidden in the mystery bag? And finally, when you find yourself switching locations and working from room to room, you can keep better tabs of those small pieces if they are contained in a bag that is portable.
I used grab bags frequently with my early language learners, especially in small groups. It creates a natural context for communication boards when training core vocabulary such as “I have, I see, I want,” and that mportant question for vocabulary development, “What is it?”. I have used grab bags with a activities such as potato head, the car races, and windup toys. You can use a clear freezer for students who need to see the parts and request them.
Here is an example of a communication board I used with mechanical toys and a grab bag. The board is made from Picto-Selector graph which is a free download. It can be found at https://www.pictoselector.eu/
A bag can also be used with older students seated around a large table. The bag can be passed so items can always be reached. You have one less thing in your hands which really helps when taking data. You can even have different bags and different cards in each so students can work on different objectives by pulling from their bag. I have a lot less trouble with a stack of cards being scattered across the table and floor.
I imagine you are saying, “I want one of those. Give me the directions for that grab bag already.” Well here they are:
Find an old sweater or sweatshirt that has long sleeves and cuffs. Simply cut the sleeve off, turn it inside out and sew across the flat bottom. You can glue the bottom opening closed with a glue gun if you can’t sew or don’t have a sewing machine. Turn it back to the right side and you should have a bag with a cuff opening for the top. Now tell me that isn’t simple.