Since the back-to-school sales are about to start, I've started thinking of how to spend my budget. Ok, who am I kidding? I don't really have a budget because I know if I set a limit I'd be over it in a second and then I'd feel guilty. Of course, I do try to find deals and that's what this post is about! I think everyone know that Dollar Tree is full of great teacher finds. My favorite thing is to get fun pointers for my students to use when reading from our charts. Stick horses, sparkly batons and wands all provide an element of fun that really make my students clamor for a chance to read to the class!
One of my best finds was after school had started. I hit my local Walmart and realized they had marked down those plastic pencil boxes to just 10¢! There were only 2 left on the shelf, but with a little rooting around I found a whole case on the bottom shelf behind some binders! The best thing was, sI also got the carboard box that they came in, so they stay neat on the shelf! I now use the pencil boxes to hold small manipulatives like erasers and plastic animals and my students can get out a box to sort, make patterns, or create number problems whenever they finish their work early.
I also LOVE the book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" It is a great read for establishing a classroom community with shared language. At the end of each day I take 10 minutes for the children to tell about someone who filled their bucket that day. It can be as simple as a smile, sharing a toy or helping with a difficult task. My one rule is that we have to talk about someone else's deeds, not brag about our own. The students embrace this idea and soon I hear "Thanks for filling my bucket!" or "You're being a bucket dipper when you don't share." In order to really encourage everyone to be bucket fillers, I started to award real buckets whenever someone had a super bucket filling day. I try to arrange it so everyone earns one by the end of a few weeks. Of course, I had to get a good deal on all those buckets since I had 25 students at the start of the year (thankfully we hired a 3rd kinder teacher and class sizes shrank!) I went to Hobby Lobby and found that at the end of summer they put their little tin pails on sale! I got most of my buckets for 25¢! Of course, you could do many other things with them as well, but the students were thrilled to take them home!Here's what they look like:
If you want more ideas for using the book, check out Teachingheart.net's page about it here.
Finally, I signed up for Staples emails. My local stores does a great back to school event for teachers with lots of givewaways. But, my favorite thing is the frequent sale on dry erase markers! Every few weeks, Staples puts their Quartet brand of dry erase markers on sale - a pack of 4 for $1! I find that the Quartet markers are comparable to the Expo brand. They last just as long and write beautifully! I have a class set of dry erase boards and use them a lot in whole group lessons so it's imperative to have a class set of dry erase markers at all times! And, since someone always leaves a cap off (no matter how many times you remind them!) it's great to be able to replace them cheaply. The only drawback is that there's usually a limit of 2 per person.
For more shopping ideas, check out the linky party at Ladybug's Teacher. I am so jealous I don't have a Target in my area!