Saturday, October 5, 2013

Daycare On a Dime

For any of my fellow Daycare Divas and teaching friends out there looking for a great way to outfit their classroom cupboards on a dime I urge you to consider hitting up your local mom to mom sales. These amazing sales are an awesome place to scoop up great deals on gently used items. 

For those of you live under a rock and haven’t heard of mom to mom sales you should know they are magical sales usually take place in churches or schools on Saturday mornings between 9:00 and 1:00. If you don’t have any darlings of your own getting up early Saturday morning for daycare purposes might seem like a waste of a perfectly good opportunity to sleep in but as they say, the early bird gets the worm. Plus it’s WAY better than hitting random garage sales in hopes of stumbling across a fantastic find because almost EVERYTHING in the place is geared for children under the age of five.

A few things to keep in mind....

  • Be aware of recalled items, especially when purchasing infant items like highchairs, swings, cribs and strollers.
  • Never ever, ever buy car seats second hand!
  • Hit up the sales in upscale neighborhoods because rich kids have tons of cool stuff that they hardly ever use and it’s all in pristine condition.
  • Double check to see if all the pieces are in the box, believe it or not some people will try to pass off their junk for a few bucks knowing it’s crap - I’m pretty sure there’s a special place in hell for them.
  • Go in with a dollar amount in mind, or you will likely overspend. (That being said I have to leave my purse at home and only bring cash otherwise I will go to the ATM because I have no restraint when it comes to buying kids stuff.)
  • Keep a running list of things you need in your phone so when you get there you will remember what you are looking for.
  • Go early if you are looking for big ticket items like train tables and jogging strollers the good stuff goes quick.
  • Stay late if you want to scoop up deals from over worked moms who don’t want to drag a bunch of crap back to their car.
  • Keep track of your purchases they are tax deductions!

Mom to mom finds of the day.....

I went in with 20.00 determined not to spend a dime over that and this is what I came out with.

A bag of penguins and five Arctic books for 2.00, how cool is that? I will use it in my sensory bin during the winter for sure! I’ll probably add it to a giant hunk of foam or packing peanuts for building igloos, we could google the different kinds of penguins to learn about what makes them unique.... there are at least ten uses for these guys right off the top of my head.

I also found this awesome race track to continue our investigation of downward slopes, gravitational pull and speed. We could also use it as a springboard for conversations about simple machines and levers. Four cars are loaded at the top then you hit the lever and they all go flying down the track, as the track narrows more two cars go careening off either side until finally one car hits the finish line. Love that it folds up for easy storage too!

Below in my stash is a little collection of cars will be great for our small world construction sites or to be tossed in our beautiful new sand box once it has sand.

 I also found a Connect Four launching game, I spy, Critter Crash, Playskool play tiles, alphabet Beads, Sparkly Beads, some science books, a word building game and a puzzle.

Construct, Deconstruct and Reconstruct to nurture flexible thinking

When I’m looking at board games I always look for ones that have good nuts and bolts. Something we can take a part and use for a few different things other than what the game was originally intended for. It's good for baby brains and good for my overstuffed toy shelves  Also using parts of games for different activities encourages kids to think outside the box and to use things creatively in their play. 

Some examples of open ended use of games are:

This critter crash - This game can be used for patterning, sorting, building, counting, adding groups of objects or pressing into clay (the pieces are textured). 

This connect four launcher - This game has two launchers that promise all sorts of fun for the kiddies in making up target games or shooting across the light table and keeping score. We can also use the acrylic trays for sorting / counting / observing small items on the light table. The launching disks can also be used in stringing projects, or for dropping on pegs. We could also use the disks for placing over specific letters for letter hunt games on paper.

This little building kit was not quite as awesome as I hoped it would be but it still has lots of potential. I broke one of my own rules by not looking in the box before buying it. Instead I asked the mom if it had all it’s pieces, she said it did but she was wrong. Four pieces and the diagram cards were missing. I was a little bummed about it but after playing with the pieces I decided it is going to be a “what can you imagine” kind of a thing. The kids know that when I set out a tray of objects and say "What can you imagine?" I am looking forward to seeing how their own ideas emerge as they work with the objects.

The building kit does have a working motor so it’s good for building simple machines that move. I'm sure my little engineers will conjure up something cool with it. 

As a way to extend their thinking we will take photos of the children's creations before they are dismantled during project time. Later in our large group discussion I will pull the pictures up on the computer screen then ask each of the children to share the steps they used to construct their own machines. The pictures will serve as a prompt to help them recall and retell their process in building.

Kickin’ it old school....

Sometimes I come across really old school games like Connect O Straws and this Playskool tile game. They are usually a lovely shade of burnt orange or avocado green and sold in boxes held together by yellowing masking tape. These little gems always make me smile. They are super cheap and kind of ugly so it’s easy to overlook their hidden potential. Toys from the 70’s are the best open ended toys on the table. Their simple design and no fuss no muss pieces are a great workout for the imagination.

Last week the kids used connect o straws to build some really cool things on the light table, can't wait to see what they come up with while using all our cool new stuff next week :)

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