With the school year starting up in just a few weeks (I know, I know), many of you are probably starting to stock up on new materials for your classrooms and offices. If you’re looking to save a little money, here are some creative ideas to help you get the biggest bang for your buck!
If you don’t have the money to spring for an awesome actual dollhouse like this one, Kim’s Counseling Corner has a few great ideas for saving money – just use a bookshelf or dresser from a garage or rummage sale, add a little paint, and you’re done! Amazon also has some really cheap bookshelves that would work perfectly here.
If you’re REALLY on a budget, just tape cereal boxes together to make walls and voila!
Play-Doh or Clay
While Play-Doh isn’t really that expensive, you could include your students in a project to make your own! Here’s an easy recipe you could do for kids of all ages (they make great kneaders after it cools – obviously don’t let them handle the boiling water!):
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- food coloring (optional)
- few drops glycerine (optional, but adds nice shine)
Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add food coloring to the boiling water then into the dry ingredients (color optional). Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough. If you’re using it, add the glycerine. Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone. If it comes out a little sticky, add a bit more flour until you reach the right consistency. Store in plastic bags and it’ll last for several months!
There are tons of great icebreaker get-to-know-you type games out there, but my personal favorite is a variation on Jenga. One game you could buy is called Totika, which combines Jenga with many different types of questions to get kids talking. If you don’t want to spend the money and have a bit of free time on your hands, you could use regular Jenga or wooden blocks and tape your own questions to the bottom of each block. It makes them a little harder to balance when stacking, but definitely gets the job done!
One of my favorite crafts for the beginning of the school year are stress balls. We’ve all seen the flour-filled balloons that inevitable get holes in them and spill all over the place. Well, here’s a no mess, no fuss, dirt cheap solution…pool noodles! Just grab a bread knife, slice 2″ segments and you’re set. At the beginning of the year, I leave a bunch in the teacher’s lounge (or teachers or kids!) and have received an awesome response!
There are a lot of really great sand trays out there. However, you don’t necessary have to spend a lot of money unless you want to! When I was younger, my mom bought a huge bag of rice and dumped it into a storage bin. I loved playing with little toys, measuring cups, etc. in it and it was significantly less messy than sand.
There are a million different types of things you can use as fidgets. I’ve shared a great resource that details many of them here, but examples include keychains, pieces of exercise band, paper clamps, pipe cleaners with pony beads on them, therapy tangles, beanbags…the list goes on and on!
Have any other ways to create therapy toys? Share below in the comments!