Monday, July 25, 2011

Make A School Supply Box: For Home And Teachers, Too!

Yesterday afternoon, The Peanut and I took her supply list for the Third Grade (!!!!!) out and about for some school supply shopping.

This year, for some reason, the school supply seasonal sales have begun really early -- perhaps because they start back to school earlier this year, or perhaps because retailers are all trying to get a jump on each other in sales.  Whatever the reason, there were some serious bargains and we took advantage of them by stocking up our home school supplies bin.

What is that, you might ask?

We have a large, green plastic bin with a lid that I keep stocked with wide-ruled notebook paper, boxes of crayons and colored pencils, colored markers -- both wide and thin -- No. 2 pencils, little hand-held pencil sharpeners, school scissors, glue sticks, erasers, purse-sized packs of kleenex for the backpack, and pretty much anything else that seems like it might be useful during the school year.  I started doing this when The Peanut began kindergarten, mostly because she kept losing her crayons or pencils (either on her own or because she loaned them out and they never made their way back to her, I have no idea).  Having a steady supply to replenish her little desk whenever she would come home and say "I need more ______," without having to make a special trip to the store was heaven.

It truly has been a sanity saver, and is also super useful for homework and various projects, because we already have a good supply of things here at the house for immediate starting.

The bonus for stocking this up when "back to school" sales are plentiful?  You have a ready supply at a quarter of the price if you play the store sales correctly.

For example, we have multiple packs of wide-ruled notebook paper that I've gotten for anywhere from 25 cents a pack up to 75 cents a pack -- when the going rate for regular price is $1.50 or more.  I got 40 boxes of 24-packs of crayons yesterday for 25 cents each, way less than I would have paid for them at the regular price.  And the list goes on.

Why buy so many crayons?

Each year we also stock a box of room supplies for The Peanut's teacher and give it to her at the beginning of the year, so she has extras like scissors, crayons, pencils, Clorox wipes, kleenex, construction paper, copy paper, you name case one of the kids needs a loaner for the day.  Just call it our little thank you to a teacher for doing such a tough job all year long.

My mother taught elementary school for more than 30 years, and in that time there was very little money -- either from the county, the school or the PTA -- for her to purchase supplies for her classroom each year.  So we made do by having a big change jar in the house, into which my dad, my mom and me dumped whatever pocket change came our way.  We'd cash in our change jar at the end of summer each year and it would be used for school supplies with whatever other money was needed to stock the room.  If there was extra (which was rare), it was used to quietly help poorer kids in mom's class who needed supplies of their own to take home, and sometime for an outfit or two where it could be most needed.

By doing a big bin of supplies for our child's teacher each year, it is our way of paying that forward.  Teachers still pay a lot of money out of pocket for their classrooms to be bright, cheery and stocked with all the things that help your children learn.  Especially now that budgets are stretched so thin in most school districts.

It's a little thing, but it means a great deal to a teacher to know that he or she is really appreciated.  And to not have to restock the entire room out of their already-too-small salary?  That's an added bonus.

I love this time of year.  I'm a school supplies shopping addict, honestly -- you could drop me off at an office supply store and I'd happily hang out there looking at various types of paper and pens for hours -- so this is nerd nirvana for me each year.  I figure why not use that love of school supplies for good and help out my child's teacher, too?  It's the little things, right?

(Photo via nojhan.  Love the color!)


Kristi said...

You could say I am addicted too. I love a good bargain and every year I stock up. Sometimes I even have left overs for the next school year. I often buy extras to donate to the school for families in need, or to some of the charities that have school supply drives. Our school PTO also gives us the option of ordering at the end of the school year and have the supplies sitting on the students' desk the first day of school, but the price is almost triple what I pay with the good bargains, and I think it takes all of the fun out of Back To School time.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

There really is something magical about shopping the back to school sales every year, isn't there? I loved school as a kid, and my daughter does as well (knock wood that sentiment holds through the next 9 grades and beyond!). Funny how just picking up that box of pencils and catching that whiff of wood and lead takes me right back to that first day of kindergarten school shopping and my own childhood.