Sunday, September 25, 2016

10 Stores that Teachers Love

We also know that teachers love certain stores and certain stores are really invaluable to teachers. I mean look at how a whole Instagram phenomenon sprung up recently with the hashtag and account TeachersLoveTarget, with quite a few other stores following! I swear teachers made the Target dollar spot so successful! So I got to thinking about what stores we love, rely on, and make our classrooms and our students' experiences just terrific!







1. Target
Well, obviously! There isn't much new I can say about Target, but it has terrific items for teachers, especially in that Dollar Spot!


2. Walmart
Walmart is where I go first to buy classroom supplies. This summer I picked up plastic cups for my supply bins, the supply bins themselves (99 cents each!), crayons, markers, glue, composition books and more! I have also bought stools for the classroom there and I know a lot of teachers have picked up items that will work for flexible seating as well as classroom storage items at Walmart. It also is where I get a lot of my tablecloths that cover up our old tables.

3. Dollar Tree and other dollar stores
Definitely this is the best place for bargain basement prices on classroom supplies. Great for when you need a whole class set of something but don't have $50 or $100 to shell out to get one for everyone.


4. Amazon
I mean Amazon, has everything! Anything you can't get somewhere else, or need fast and can take advantage of their quick shipping, you can get here. My big Amazon purchases include ink for my printer, toner for my at-home copy machine, and laminating sheets for my laminator. It's reliable to shop with them! Plus it's an awesome place to shop for deals on my favorite Flair pens! (clicking on the image will take you to Amazon)

                                           


5. Michaels/AC Moore                             Michaels is my go to place for things like felt, oak tag/colored paper, paint, wood crafts that can be used as projects for my class or gifts to give to their families, and they often have fun items for my prize box. Of course there is a lot of jewelry and jewelry making crafts that I can wear to school, artificial flowers for the classroom,  and even though I don't buy them often there, they have a lot of baskets. Finally I have also seen some items specifically  tailored for outdoor recess such as jump ropes and those balls on the loop that you swing on your ankle and jump over with your other foot. They weren't too expensive either!




6. JoAnn Fabrics
I remember way back in 2000 going to a JoAnn Fabrics in Florida with a girl who had been teaching for a few more years than I had and she was buying fabric for her bulletin boards. It was the first I had heard of this and definitely not the last! So many teachers buy fabric whether for bulletin boards, covers for crate seats, and pillows! Also a good place for fabric for curtains as well as velcro and other tools to attach things to tricky walls in classrooms.






7. Home Depot
Home Depot, Lowes and Hardware Store are great for tons of supplies. For example, it's where you go when you need to get some wood to make those handy crate seats, or any of these items I have personally picked up there: contact paper (awesome for covering old tabletops and rusty file cabinets), milk crates, light bulbs, and toolboxes (empty, for the desktop teacher tool kits) as well as actual tools to have on hand in the classroom for emergencies.

8. IKEA 
I was able to get a bunch of things at an affordable price for my flexible seating classroom, including 6 of  their $5 stools. What a bargain. Many teachers buy bookshelves, organizing furniture, etc . from IKEA but I haven't done that yet. The thing is, I can always find something for my home too while I am on the hunt for classroom items at IKEA.

9. Big Lots
Big Lots seems big (no pun intended) for storage containers for classrooms. A lot of teachers seem to get their classroom book bins from Big Lots and I notice teachers even wait each July for the new products to come out and share their thoughts on the color themes. I remember last year some folks did not like the 2015 colors but some folks seemed to like the blue and the neutral blacks and grays from the 2016 collection.


10. Party City and other Party Stores
Need plastic tablecloths for class parties (or to cover bulletin boards and covers for old, gross classroom tables)? Party City has tons of colors to meet your needs. Of course when you are having a party, if you want to get fun cups and plates, they can be a go to, as well as for the Halloween costume you need for the school parade and party!


Bonus store:
 Hobby Lobby
I have only been in Hobby Lobby once, in another state, since I don't have one near me, but I noticed it was filled with tons of things teachers could use. Lots of things like Michaels and AC Moore but also has decorations you could use for your home and your classroom. I picked up ribbon there and I always keep ribbon and string in my teacher desk. I noticed you can also get teacher supplies like bulletin board letters and stickers as well as really fun things like class packs (12) of a model rocket which you could use in science class. Interesting!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

15 Flexible Seating Options

Have you been thinking about trying flexible seating this year? I have decided to go full flexible seating with my second grade this year and have done a lot of reading and research. Thought I'd share what I am doing in the classroom and some ideas that I found that other teachers are doing. 
1. Camp Chairs
Think about what size camp chairs you would do best with. I tried both "kids" size and adult size and many of my second graders are too tall for kids size camp chairs which seem to be best for preschoolers-kids age 5.  I brought these from home and accented them with some inexpensive IKEA pillows.
Quik Chair folding camp chair http://amzn.to/2c3PZRz
2. Side Tables
While technically not seating the kids can sit on, the side tables from IKEA (only $9.99) are great to put around the room and use as spots kids could work, whether they are sitting on chairs or on the floor.
3. Stools
I bought 5 of these stools from IKEA last year and they were great to put at our group table.  I think they were about $6 each. They were great last year when I was not full-on flexible seating as an alternative to regular school chairs but also will be a nice option in a classroom filled with a myriad of other seating options. Also we are using them this year as nut-free seating for snack time for my buddy with allergies and a friend.
Here is an example of a similar stool from Amazon. You can also try the site offerup.com to see if anyone near you is selling stools for cheaper. 
4. Desks
I am still a firm believer that there should be some desks in every classroom as an option for students for whom its best. You never know which kiddos, especially when you get a new class at the beginning of the year, would prefer a traditional desk.
5. Traditional Chairs
I feel the same way about chairs as desks. Keep a few around as some students (and teachers) will like using them.
6. Beach Chairs
I grabbed two of these at Target in June for $5 each (on deep discount). I found the third one, clean and unused, next to my dumpster! In the offseason or if like me, you don't live in Florida, you can always find chairs like these on Amazon (here's an example) or you may try places like Overstock.com.
7. Coffee Tables
I had this old, scratched up coffee table at home. I lugged it in after I bought a new one, spray painted it, and as one of my students once wrote, Wahlah! (Voila :) )
8. Stability Ball Chairs
These are terrific! Last year I sent an email out, asking parents if they had any small ones we could borrow. Two sweet parents bought these, sent them in, and donated them to our class. These are both Gaiam Kids Stay & Play Balance Ball Chairs from Amazon, and I have no idea why they are different sizes. On the box they appeared to be the same exact items but they don't in real life. Hint: when looking for balance balls, consider the sizes of your students. Mine are second graders and these are just right for most of them, but too small for the taller kids. If you teach upper elementary you may want a larger size.
9. Wobble Stools/Hokki Stools
Wobble stools are probably the most popular and best option in my class right now for wiggly bodies. I could not afford to just go out and buy them so I was ready to do a Donor's Choose project but I found out that Scholastic has the Kore Wobble Stools in their store and you can use your book order points to grab them. I  got two this way.  The kids loved them so we did a few more book orders and I was able to get two more! You can also buy the Kore brand here from Amazon for what I hear is a little cheaper than the Hokki Stools.

10. Laundry Baskets
Seriously. I first saw this idea over on Heidisongs Instagram account.  You take a laundry basket and a pillow or two and the kids lounge or lay in them. She said a bunch of her kids did not think they were comfortable but some did so it might be worth a shot. {Update: Heidi mentioned the Sterilite brand laundry baskets did not hold up but you could try another brand} Thanks Heidi! Check out her blog here.
11. Crate Seats
This image is from Kim at Stress-Free Teaching. She says she loves them and used really thick foam for cushioning and used a staple gun to attach the fabric. Thanks Kim!

12. Yoga Mats
Many teachers yoga mats so kids have somewhere more comfortable to sit besides a hard floor or dirty rug ( sorry just being honest!). 
13. Pillows or Chair Cushions
I bought these 4 cushions from WalMart for $5 for my short table. The kiddos love sitting on them while at this table. In fact, I had to make it a rule they can only use them while sitting there. Some were trying to abscond with them to other parts of the classroom!
 
14. Bath Mats/Small Rugs
You may have seen other teachers using bath mats for flexible seating. They are very popular. The one pictured is from Amazon but the cheapest I have found are at IKEA (I sense a trip coming up!).
 
15. Inflatable Cushions
You may have these at your school in the OT/PT room or may have one for a certain student. I am considering getting a few more since I only have one. Usually  used with more traditional chairs, they are inflated and help kids get the wiggles out. 

Check out these inflatable seating ideas! Each image links to Amazon (click here to read my disclosure policy, including information on affiliate links). Amazon is easy but by no means usually the cheapest. See my tips above for where I found affordable flexible seating options and make sure you shop around at all your favorite stores and websites.