I frequent the Dollar Tree and Target dollar aisle for things I can use as reinforcers and skill building. I also ALWAYS say yes if someone asks me if I want something (bubble wrap? a cardboard box? yes please!). Yesterday morning my husband and I saw a sign for a yard sale and decided to walk over to check it out. I spotted this laughably large stuffed Sulley from the movie Monsters Inc. from the other side of the street and got pretty excited. Once the people hosting the sale realized I was a teacher, they were all about giving away things that I might be able to use and happily offered me the ridiculously over-sized Sulley. I also got a gallon bag full of plastic dinosaurs of all sizes and a bag full of toy cars - and not just regular cars either... the real Cars cars, like the Pixar movie ones! (Cars and Thomas the Train are unbeatable with my group)
Moral of the story is: hit up the "free" section on Craigslist, go to yard sales, check out Goodwill and other thrift stores, sign up for www.donorschoose.org, send cutesy letters home to your parents listing items you need... do what you can to fund the materials you need in your classroom. Materials are very important and they can get rather expensive.
So thank you generous neighbors for the lovely addition to my classroom! I can't wait to see the look on my students' faces on Monday when I use Sulley as a reinforcer.
my husband got conned into carrying him in the 98 degree heat for the 1/2 mile walk back to our apartment
they became good friends by the end of the walk (despite the odd stares and funny comments from the occasional passerby)
*Just a side note: I do not recommend having a collection of stuffed animals in the classroom since they can easily carry germs and are not easy to clean. I plan on keeping Sulley out of the classroom for the most part (stored in my office) and using him sparingly for reinforcement during circle time and table top activities. This means the students will be in full supervision when they are with Sulley so I will be preventing any kind of germ inducing behaviors (licking, biting, etc).