Budget Montessori: Thrifting Montessori

I love walking around thrift stores and enjoy the excitement of finding a real treasure every once in a while.  Since I’m already in the habit of strolling around thrift stores, I'm naturally always on the look out for items to use in my classroom. Here are a few of the things that I keep my eyes open for:

1. Baking Pans – Baking pans come in a wide variety of sizes, quantities, shapes and materials. Look for smaller muffin pans, silicone baking pans and shaped cake pans.

2. Trays – I never seem to have enough trays in my classroom, so I’m always on the lookout for cheap or interesting trays to add to my collection. I really love bamboo trays and frequently find them at thrift stores for way less than they'd cost online or at Pier One!

3. Baskets – Again, I’m always in need of storage in my classroom and baskets are a great option! I keep my eye out for heavy duty rectangular baskets used with casserole dishes, large baskets for blocks and small baskets for little pieces. 

4. Utensils - whisks, spoons, cheese knives, juicers, melon ballers, hand-crank eggbeaters, citrus juicers, garlic presses, hand-crank food mills... the list of options goes on and on.

5. Candy Molds – Candy molds are usually made from clear plastic and come in a HUGE variety of shapes and sizes. I just recently started noticing these little plastic molds are pretty popular at the thrift store and are so cheap. I use them with colored water & droppers or with play dough.

6. Cookie Cutters – I rotate my collection of cookie cutters through our classroom during the year and I’m always looking for new ones. Small cookie cutters work great on trays with play dough. They can also be traced, dipped in paint and stamped and used with sand or dirt.

7. Teapots/Creamers/Pitchers -  Since I frequently switch out my pouring activities, I like to have lots of options to keep it fresh. The thrift store is great for finding lots of cheap little creamers, pitcher and teapots. I once even found a cute little sake set for pouring! 

8. Silver, Brass & Wooden Knickknacks – for polishing

9. Ice Cube Trays – all shapes and sizes! I have a growing collection of ice cube trays in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors that are perfect for tweezing, tonging, transferring and one-to-one correspondence activities.

10. Musical Instruments - Look for bells, wind chimes, drums... etc.

BONUS Ideas!

11. Books - Thrift stores are a great place to find lots of amazing books for a great price. Don't forget to look beyond the kid's book section for great non-fiction books about plants, animals and other topics. Check out my post about finding cheap books HERE for more ideas!

12. Toys & Games - I've found so many great games for my classroom in the toy section of my local thrift stores. It seems that the more educational games that are perfect for classroom use turn up at the thrift store often - maybe they weren't a hit at home!

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