During the regular school year, I only have a little over $100 per month to spend on curriculum supplies, which includes art supplies, toys, sensory and science materials, manipulatives, you name it. Our community is fully capable of fundraising when we want something special, but teaching day-to-day in a cash-strapped preschool requires flexing those mighty middle class bag lady muscles.
We, the early childhood educators, are in the vanguard of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" movement and we have been since way before there was a movement. We all hoard, gather, and collect. It's the single thing, perhaps even second to our love for children, that binds us all together across the nation, around the globe, and throughout history.
If you've been reading here lately, you'll know I've been on a "tree part" art/toy building kick lately (Tree Part Construction Set, Tree Part Balancers, A Bottle Bush, A Cookie Tree, Tree Blocks). I gave credit to Ariella over at Childhood Magic for setting me on this course, but if it hadn't been for my reluctance to dispose of the cedar branches I'd been pruning from our trees at home and piling up against the fence in a part of the yard where my wife wouldn't spot them, it couldn't have happened.
Everything, I've found, has at least one more use in it. Case in point: plastic flats from the nursery, and some chicken wire fencing I had left over from making our tape dragon become a painting/printing project with a built-in fine motor component.
You can paint inside the holes, or . . .
. . . right on the grid itself . . .
. . . but when you make a print only some of the paint gets on your paper.
Even better, all we had to do is leave the flats and chicken wire out in the rain and they're ready to go for next time.
And speaking of leaving stuff out in the rain, the canvases we used for the super sized marble paintings had already been painted and repainted for months . . .
. . . only to be washed clean and made new simply by the act of leaving them outdoors.
Garage sales are an obvious haunt for us middle class bag ladies, but even more exciting are the piles of random items that show up on the curbside with a "Free" sign attached. This weekend I scored big time.
All those wood screws are probably too small for us to use for anything other
than collage, but the container is awesome. What I love most about it is that
it is a very clever homemade container: the kind that would make perfect
holiday gifts for friends and family.
I think I'll let the kids decide how to use this sturdy, tongue
and groove box.
These large chunks of wood remind me of a score shared
by scavenging master Kitten Muffin over at Filth Wizardry.
Her kids made blocks out of them.
I've already used some of these clean wood scraps to
experiment with the rope making machine about which Kami
over at Get Your Mess On! recently posted.
This is some sort of tongue and groove paneling or flooring that I can imagine
the kids fitting together to make all kinds of stuff.
2X4s? Who throws out 2X4s, the single most useful cut
of wood known to man?
These might have been aluminum vases of some sort.
I'm picky when it comes to collecting toys, but this is a solid metal road
grater with moving parts. Sweet!
I'm really eager to wrap up this post and get my new finds into the school, but I have a mission for you, should you choose to accept it, my mighty bag lady colleague.
Isn't this a beautiful sensory table set up?
I can't remember where I got all that ground glass, but I've had it for years. It's such a visually appealing substance, but I can no longer use it like this. We've not had any injuries, but unless a child dries her hands very, very, very completely after washing up -- which rarely happens -- these tiny bits of broken glass stick to the skin where all it will take is a single rub of the eyes to transfer it to a place where it can do some damage.
I'm not throwing it out. What would you do with it?