Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Great Finds at Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

If you’ve read much of what is posted here at all, you have noticed that we do have a lot of “stuff”.  Before we are accused of spending too much of our own money on the school (which we probably do), let me put it on record here that we do find much of our “stuff” at thrift stores and garage sales.  
As an English teacher, I must also add that one of the best homemade signs I ever saw read, “GARGE SALE”.  I wish I would have had a digital camera back then . . . .
So, here are a few examples and ideas of what to look for, and where to get some great “stuff” for your school or homeschool.  

This was for a widow’s supper that our church held.  The committee asked the school to do a skit or a play.  We had been studying about the Titanic and had read the story of Annie Funk, a young, single Mennonite missionary to India who gave up her seat on a lifeboat so that a mother could be with her children.  Most of the clothing, shawls and veils are from thrift stores. 

Most of our tableware for the honor roll parties comes from thrift stores as well.  Pottery dishes, candle holders, baskets and table cloths are easy to find in interesting patterns and colors (thanks Wanda :-).

Books!  I try to find good ones-- no junk here.  Famous authors and titles, beautiful pictures, good science, origami and art books, etc. can be found at great prices.  Although it is true that my family is usually going out the door sighing, “Oh, no, mom is in the book section again . . .”, I truly do have a method for speeding up the process of going through rows and rows of books.  I simply look at the spines or covers.  Most really good books will have a decently interesting picture on the front, and many of the best classics will have beautiful spines and covers as well.  

I have also gone to book swaps and come home with boxes of FREE books.  I love it when a student asks about some topic and I run and find them him or her a book, or two or three, on that topic within a few minutes.  
When we did the plywood cow project (see post entitled “Art Ideas”) one of the school board dads found several large cans of free paint on the curb at a painter’s house awaiting the trash man.  The dad stopped his car, asked if we could have them, and loaded them up in his trunk.  

We buy every Lego we can find at garage sales.  (Hey look, I can spell “garage”.  I should have a sign business.)  They are much cheaper that way.  We are out of white ones right now for the model of the Empire State Building we are working on.  I told my husband that yellows ones would look fine instead of white ones.  He gave me a very funny look.  

Puzzles are also very good for children’s developing brains.  I love to find the really neat old-fashioned wooden ones.  

One of our students' moms found a set of six of these Bolivian butterflies at a garage sale.  She called us on the spot, told us the price and asked us if we wanted them.  We said “yes”.  (My sister kept doing this to me one day when she was out garage saling. [Yes, that really is a verb.]  She kept texting me and sending me pictures of stupid stuff I didn’t want.  A few months later I was complaining about how cold I was in our rental house.  She told me that she had found these great space heaters at a garage sale, had sent me texts with pictures of them, and that I had told her at the time I didn’t want them.  “Remember that?”  she said.   “Yes,”  I replied, “I wasn’t cold then.”  She had bought them anyway and I did pay her for those ugly space heaters.)

The fake butterfly below was found at a garage sale as well.  

I had wanted a ship for our library forever.  I kept looking for one at a thrift store as they always seemed so expensive elsewhere.  I hadn’t found one until this past summer.  I was very happy to have finally found one, and I was even happier when the price tag was only $3.99.  Now our ship has come in :-).

We believe that culture is exceedingly fantastic.  What better way to expose your students to other cultures (other than taking them on trips to other countries),  than to read stories about, and have items from other countries readily accessible in your school.   We are thinking about future teachers and missionaries here.  This is important “stuff”.  
The pink jar with a lid was made in Japan.  This was purchased at a garage sale.  The jade is from China, and the leather keyring is from Africa. 
The bug display has the genus-species names below each insect and is wonderful to use for certain science classes.  One of our students’ parents bought it at a garage sale and gave it to us.  The Quechuan couple is from Peru.  These were $1.50 each at a thrift store we found while we were on vacation.  (Yes, we go to thrift stores even on our vacations.)
This lovely piece has a handle broken off on one side.  It was in the 90% off section at Hobby Lobby.   
By the way, two of our elementary students put all of these cultural items on the shelves and arranged them.  During the week before school started while we were redecorating and setting up, they thought of it on their own and asked us if they could pull some things out of our boxes.  We let them.  The results surprised us.  

And . . . the Amish doll clothes were also purchased at a garage sale.  To read the story about this, scroll to the end of the post entitled “Spontaneity Part I; Genuine Spontaneity”.