Today, I want to share some of my favourite thrift shop treasures for kids play.
Who doesn’t enjoy rummaging around in thrift shops, discovering some small treasures and getting a bargain in the process?
I can be found often in the aisles of these underestimated places, oohing and aahhing over the most strange and unique items. The cashier will look at my purchases and I can see the confusion as she scans the array of totally unrelated, and seemingly useless items in front of her/him.
“I am an early childhood teacher” I explain, and the look of confusion is then replaced with a knowing smile and nod.
We are a strange breed, some of us, and yet people seem to understand the need for teachers to collect odd junk.
So, moving on to some of my priceless little treasures and how I chose to use them.
Everyone sees their own uses and you may very well have something completely different in mind when you see them.
Infant and Toddler Heuristic Treasure Baskets
Treasure baskets can have literally anything in them. I would however consider the safety aspect at this age as everything tends to go in the mouth.
If you make sure the pieces in your basket are not small enough to cause a choking hazard and that there are no rough or sharp edges on anything.
Anything recycled should be sanitized before offering to children as well. I like to gather a variety of really different objects that children can find ways to explore the properties of.
Hand and finger puppets combined with favourite stories and books, are always a popular activity for children. Sometimes if I am very lucky, I can find puppets for as little as 50 cents each and the same with the books.
Children love to use the puppets to be imaginative and tell their own stories.
Small animals (not real), bugs and dinosaurs are great to add with other props.
I like to blend the natural elements like water, sand and driftwood to these experiences and some thrift or second hand shops sell bags of mixed toys for a few dollars.
Wooden pegs are are a wonderful way for children to use their imagination as they can be used to represent people among other things. Add small houses, blocks and fabrics to the mix and see what happens.
I also come across an array of baskets to use for displaying children’s resources in, and at a fraction of the cost of new ones.
Thrift shops are the absolute best place to find real, everyday items at very good prices to add to dramatic/role play.
I look for things such as wooden and metal bowls, spoons, teapots, table cloths, vases and fake flowers or plants.
Some good things for children to set up tables and other areas include salt and pepper shakers, pots and pans, table mats and coasters.
For dressing up children love old handbags,costume jewelry and hats.
Threading and Stacking
Napkin rings, curtain rings, and bracelets make ideal stacking and threading activities for children and these can be found in abundance in most thrift shops.
If you can find any old tree cup stands or paper towel holders for children to stack or hang their treasures on they great and come in different styles. I have found wood and metal stands some were jewelry stands that I converted into little stacking trees for the smaller objects.
Beads and shells. I once found and old hanging screen for a doorway made from wooden beads which I pulled apart to create threading sets.
Music and Movement
Children enjoy using scarves and sheer fabrics to move to music with and there are so many options. I recently bought 5 for 1 dollar. I was very happy with my purchase.
Chop sticks and wooden items (even a wooden bowl turned upside down) to create drums and tapping type instruments are easy to locate.
I make use off excess curtain rings by tying lengths of ribbon onto them for children to dance with.
By shopping in thrift stores with an open mind. you will begin to see the many possibilities available through a little imagination.
Play ideas need not be a costly venture, and I have only scratched the surface with some of the uses of these little treasures i have found. the possibilities are endless and exiting!
Whole settings can be transformed into magical places for children to explore.
So next time you are out and about, think about how you can save some money while providing hours of enjoyment for the children, and yourself.
Be creative and have Fun!
Please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think and if you would like to see more of these type of posts.