The past two days I have talked about using a yard sale app, as well as using the app in certain ways to save time. Today I want to talk about focusing on specific things to look for at sales, in order to maximize each visit.
Most people who know that I am a teacher assume that I mainly buy toys for my classroom at yard sale. And this is true – I do buy a lot of toys at sales. In fact, the main thing I look for if I am driving by and checking out a sale quickly is colorful plastic, because colorful plastic usually means toys.
However, I find lots of other items, too. Here are five types of things (besides toy sets) that I specifically look for at sales:
As I have mentioned here and there on this blog, I strongly feel like different containers are learning expanders. Even the youngest Little People like putting toys in and taking toys out, and I find older preschoolers are just the same. Suddenly, this interest begins to develop spatial concepts, as well as fine motor skills as they manipulate these objects in and out of the various receptacles provided for them.
In addition, any containers that open and close add further interest, as well as promote fine motor skill practice.
Because of this, I always look for small containers at yard sales. It might be small coin purses, jewelry boxes, or tupperware-type containers. Here are a few from my most recent sale outing:
“Grab Bag” Objects
One of the most popular free-play toys that we put out in our classroom are what I call “grab bag” objects. These are what you might find at the bottom of a yard sale containers – small, miscellaneous orphan pieces that don’t really have a set of their own. They might be game tokens, one or two Shopkins that escaped the set, some Barbie shoes, etc.
This is because one of the things my Little People play with the longest are trays like this:
These are various, non-related toy items, and the Little People love them. There are just rich in potential for vocabulary and describing practice, along with categorizing, and so many other things.
One of my most recent yard sale trips yielded some of these tiny, random objects, as shown above.
Another bonus to this type of shopping is that you can usually take up a small gift bag full of various parts to the person running the sale, and it looks so random and inconsequential that (at least in my experience) you can get the whole bag for almost nothing.
Pieces of Sets I Already Have
I have to admit that I have created quite a collection of specific toys sets by grabbing any pieces I see of types of toys that I already own at a multitude of different sales. I never, ever pass up Fisher Price Little People, or their various vehicles (I have had to slow down on the houses, though, as I am running out of room to store them). I also collect any authentic Duplo pieces that I find, even if it is just one or two pieces, as they add variety to the sets that I already have.
Here a few of these items:
Because of my yard sale habits, this “piece gathering” has really increased our toy choices at school.
Sensory Bin Items:
We try to put out seasonal or themed sensory bins often at school, and I can almost always find things to add to the various bins at sales. Any sale that advertises “holiday items” should have items. For example, some bead necklaces cut into smaller pieces make great sensory bin treasure. So does any kind of table scatter, confetti, or random craft items.
Alphabet Letter Items:
I am always looking for add to my “Alphabet Letter Items” at school. These are various small objects that I file by beginning letter, and use as we talk about that letter. Yard sales are a great way to find these items, although sometimes you have to be thinking about the items in that alphabet-related way. For example, I always look at toys first at sales, but then try to peruse the other tables to possibly find something unusual, such as a small umbrella, or a Christmas ornament toaster. Many of my alphabet items are small stuffed animals, such a Beanie Babies. I found four last week (kangaroo not shown):
So, there are five categories of things that I watch for at yard sales. By doing so, I almost always have new and exciting items for my classroom, and at the same time, save lots of money!