Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free or inexpensive, and FABULOUS

Are there dopey little things in your classroom you can't imagine being without? While cleaning up, I took photos of a few of these faves. First, the containers from Kool-Aid ~ these are the BEST water containers for long-handled brushes. They curve in slightly at the top so messes drip inward rather than outward, and their wide bottoms make them very stable. The blue bowls were given to me (I don't know where they came from) and are marvelous for short-handled brushes.

Then there's the old lunch trays, freebie toothbrushes, and the containers from frosting.

I use the lunch trays for EVERYTHING. When we wash paint brushes, we do NOT put them in their containers to dry, as then the liquid drips into the ferrule and shortens the brush life. So instead we place the brushes on newspaper (on a tray) to dry and it makes the brushes last longer. I can't begin to tell you all the uses I have for these trays.

The toothbrushes are used for cleaning clay out of little fingernails, or ink out of ink pens.

I love putting stuff in the frosting containers, as you can see! And by the way, those are my FAVORITE brushes - they are
Royal & Langnickel Big Kid's Choice brushes, and long-handled Q-tips. I actually keep the 3 containers of brushes, the container of Q-tips, and another container with Popsicle sticks in a small kitty litter pan. It is a perfect size!

And then there's these ugly sponges. I got the big ones by mistake a couple of years ago, and they are absolutely USELESS for washing tables. But we use them when painting, for wiping brushes. My mantra: wipe, wash, wipe! The kids all know it. Depending on what we're doing,we might use newspaper, or else the oval sponges. And since our table washing sponges are rectangular, there's no confusion. I also use the little round sponges in little pans of water, when we are using colored paper-tape. No licky-sticky! Hands are too germy. So we dab the tape on the damp sponges.

The other photo is of my FAVORITE style
staple-pullers. You can pull about 20 staples onto one of these before you need to dump them off, and they do not tear paper like the "jaw-style" staple-remover. Since I hang a LOT of student work on 5 or 6 different hallway bulletin boards, and change them every week or two, we do a LOT of staple-pulling and it helps to have great tools.

I forgot to take a photo of the microwave TV dinner dishes that a bus driver brings to me. She must eat one for lunch or dinner every day! They are black and there's low flat ones, bowl-shaped ones, divided ones, etc. I put paint in them for stamping w/sponges, we use them for palettes for mixing colors, and a zillion other uses. And they don't me cost a dime!


  1. Oh, I might actually have to start buying kool aid this summer so that we can have some of those containers. How perfect!

  2. I have to say I agree with the staple removers LOVE them! My favorite freebie is styrofoam egg cartons and the buckets you put your coins in a casino. I am no gambler but I made sure when I was in Vegas I got plenty of them for my classroom! :)

  3. Many years ago, a friend who worked in a deli had access to really large plastic containers (the size of a bucket). She got me 4 of them and we use them daily to wash hands on the patio so that I don't have a line for the 1 sink in the room. I also like my Cool Whip containers for water. And, oh, there are the Marie Callender pie tins for when we paper mache or sponge paint. I could probably go on and on -- it seems I am always on the look out for the next latest and greatest art container!!

  4. The PATIO???!! How California of you! Outside my art room is an indoor hallway, and out my windows for half the year is a snow-covered roof... and then there's black fly season - the strange little Adirondack season between spring and summer...

    I also like Cool Whip containers - I use them, along with sherbet containers and soft margarine containers, for Art Paste that has been mixed , which I use for papier-mache. It keeps forever without spoiling so you don't have to worry about how much to mix.

    And then there's the empty buckets from gesso - I have so many of them and I always find uses for them all!

  5. I was so thankful when a teacher at my school gave me her extra staple remover with that kind of design. I didn't know they existed as a first year teacher and it works SOOO much better for the bulletin board strips at my school. I'm going to link to this post on my supplies post!

  6. Kind of makes me wish we had Kool-Aid in Australia. I had to google it :D

  7. That staple remover is awesome. . . I never knew it existed either. I actually repuposed a clay tool with a similar shape to take out staples. It's sharp and triangular and metal so maybe I'll get the plastic one so kids can use it. Thanks!

  8. Are we a sympatico bunch or what?!? I had to laugh when I read all of your posts because you all were describing my art room freebies! I have to commend all of you because it just goes to show how creative and inventive we all are when it comes to getting something we all need for nothing. I personally must go through one of those vertical staple pullers a year because I use them so much. I haven't found a brand YET that I can't break!

  9. Anne, I can't imagine growing up without Kool-Aid. I always notice how much we all have in common, but I forget how different our lives actually are!

  10. Great ideas! Love those staple removers too. Just a hint on those large sponges - cut 'em in half - get 2 sponges for the cost of one! They'll be the perfect size for smaller hands & it won't affect the life of the sponge - I used my papercutter to quickly cut them down to size...

  11. I like to snatch the used copier boxes for my art room. They are great for paper scraps, projects, etc. I use some of them for yarn dispensers; just drop yarn in the bottom, add some cardboard scraps as dividers between colors, and poke holes in the lid to feed the yarn through. I also keep all of my daughter's plastic restaurant kid's cups, they work great for organizing table supplies.


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