Pack Rat! Collect Odds & Ends for Classroom Use

Summer is finally here! Like animals heading for hibernation, this is the time of year that you should be stockpiling all the goodies you can get your paws on for next year. From art projects to classroom organization, the whosits and whatsits you collect now will seem worth their weight in gold as you head into next semester.

Method to the Madness
Before you just start filling your closet with things to recycle in your classroom, take the time create an organization system. Start by finding a place where you can keep all of your goodies together. At home consider a closet, under a bed, or in the garage. Avoid cardboard for storage because it can attract bugs. If budget permits, one of the best storage containers is a large plastic box with a lid available at any big box store like Target, Walmart, Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can also buy under-bed storage boxes made of plastic. At school, extra storage space will be a little more difficult to come by. Check with your local copy shop or professional printer and ask them to donate “case boxes” for storage. These boxes are similar to shoe boxes in that they have a lid that nests on top of the box, rather than four flaps – they are slightly larger than 11 x 17 inches on the base and are around 12″ tall. Use them as is or cut the top of the box down to make the box shorter, depending on what you need to store, then label with a wide tip marker.

Don’t forget to ask parents for help accumulating these odds & ends. You can promote it as a way to recycle and help their child’s class.

  • baby food jars
  • butter tubs and plastic ice cream buckets – good for airtight storage, bins for markers and crayons
  • buttons – sorting activities, decorations for art projects
  • boxes, all kinds – cereal boxes work great for various writing activites and art projects, shoe boxes for dioramas & storage
  • film canisters – not so easy to come by these days, these tiny plastic containers are great for storing small things and making crafts
  • cardboard – use for signs, bulletin boards, making your own board games
  • collect game pieces from old board games to use for homemade games
  • broken crayons – use for melting in art projects from stained glass to candle making
  • socks – use for chalkboard erasers, puppets, beanbags, storage for marbles, dominos & other game pieces
  • small milk cartons – good for planting projects from seed, candle molds, creating miniature houses/models
  • cotton from pill containers for general art use
  • old clothes to dress up in for skits & plays, as well as cover ups for art
  • sunglasses & old eyeglass frames also for skits & plays
  • furniture – check garage sales for sofas or chairs that can be used in a reading corner, re-upholster them yourself if needed
  • styrofoam packing peanuts – fill pillowcases with peanuts for padded cushions, fill larger pieces of fabric to create beanbag chairs for reading areas
  • popsicle sticks – good for everything: spreading glue, building models, stiring paint
  • fabric scraps
  • yarn
  • toilet paper & paper towel tubes – art projects, gerbil & hamster toy
  • books for a reading corner – keep an eye out for books at garage and estate sales as well as bargain tables at booksellers
  • board games for indoor recess
  • mechanical/electronic devices – radios, watches, etc. for students to take apart and learn “how it works”