As a participant in Blog Action Day, today I post on the important topic of the green classroom. Specifically, I want to encourage all of you crafty teachers and parents to seek art and project supplies in places other than your local Wal-Mart or Michaels. Instead of giving you a project today, I'm giving you an assignment. Go out and find a cheap or free place to get supplies, and bring back something you can use in your teaching sometime soon.
I hit my local Goodwills and Salvation Armies about once a month, and I always find something that can be repurposed in my classroom. Just last week I found one of those things you hang in a doorway with long strands of beads on it. Some of the strands will go into the dramatic play center, others for craft projects, and a heap of them would be awesome in the sensory table. I also found a ton of dress-up clothes, including several hats.
It's getting late in the season for yard sales in my region, but it may still be warm where you are. Check your local newspaper for ads and be on red alert for any that say "retiring teacher." Sales like that can be a gold mine.
Odds are you also have a place nearby that collects items from companies to be reused by schools. In my area, it's Ruth's. If not, you can call large companies and ask. Try printers for cardboard tubes and scrap paper, laboratories and hospitals for pipettes and science stuff, hardware stores for wallpaper sample books and brushes, and so on. Big stores usually have stuff they're eager to donate, and you never know what you might find. One approach is to come up with a list of possible items, and then write (or have your kids write) letters requesting donations.
Using recycled stuff in your art projects encourages creativity, teaches science, and fosters a respect for the environment. It also helps the planet and saves you money. You really can't lose, so go for it!