Feb 9, 2009

Organizing Activity Supplies

Over the years, it becomes painfully obvious how much stuff you accumulate as a parent. If you are like me, you don't necessarily like to throw out the 2 good paint-pens just because the other 8 are done for. As your brood grows, so does your arsenal of activity supplies that you use to stimulate your younger children and to encourage and fine-tune development of their fine-motor skills, etc., but let's not forget they are all great to have handy to survive summer vacations, sick days, snow days, rainy days, etc.

If your children attend public school, having all of these items handy will also prove beneficial throughout their primary-school career. You can receive project assignments that run the gamut, i.e. needing to bling out a cardboard cutout for various occasions, star-of-the-week projects, homework assignments, etc. Having two older children in elementary school when we added our third member to the equation.....let's just say there have been MANY times I thanked my lucky stars that I did not have to run around town in rain, sleet, or snow, or any combination of the 3, in search of the supplies we needed to meet the decorative requests/assignments, the same supplies that miraculously disappear from stock due to the sudden high demand leaving you high and dry by the way with a disappointed child who had a certain "vision."

Start stockpiling and saving good containers when the kids are young, even before you have the need for organizing supplies. Infant formula containers and Ovaltine and Nesquik containers are great for organizing activity/crafting/art supplies, and they are free after you, a neighbor, a relative, a coworker, or a friend, have consumed the product.

In my opinion, the somewhat oval-rectangular-shaped Nesquik containers are the best because you are able to utilize more space with them, but since I didn't buy as many of those, I used primarily the Ovaltine and formula containers, which still work well.

No matter which containers you decide to reuse for this purpose, you have a couple of options for labeling them. I picked out an easy-to-read font on the computer, picked an appropriate size, and printed the words of each item out on an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of computer paper. I then cut it down to size and hot-glued them onto the containers. You could alternatively choose to take pictures of the contents assigned to each container and print off those labeled pictures for children too young to read or learning to read. You could also use some really cute contact paper to completely encircle the containers, as the computer paper doesn't make it quite all the way around, and then hot glue pictures and/or labels onto that. I love you cutesie-pie folks, as I would love to do it myself, but I have to focus on fast and done!

A quick note, however, on containers I decided I did not like.....anything that is tapered, i.e. cookie-dough fundraiser containers, whipped cream containers, etc. (they are different sizes on top than bottom with bottom being smaller - this makes for wrapping your paper around it much trickier).

I basically started with an activity cupboard in the kitchen but, again, as the family grew, my activity arsenal grew, as did my domestic skills and kitchen appliance inventory, the activity cupboard has therefore bounced around a bit. I can't wait to finish the cupboards where the supplies reside now so I can share them with you in the future as well - got them completely free! -- but right now that white paint is really only primer.

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