We love yard sales. Here is everything that a parent with young children needs from his or her local yard sales, all wrapped up in one tidy little blog post.
So throw an extra couple of bucks in your pocket on your way to soccer practice or the grocery store on Saturday mornings just in case you hit one of these super sales this spring. Here are some things to pick up if you’re lucky enough to run across a few sales:
- magnetic letters or magnetic numbers: You can never have too many of these, and the more varied the fonts and styles, the better for sorting!
- felt boards: The boards and the felt pieces are awesome for story-telling.
- games: Really, if they’re selling for under a dollar, grab a bunch! Think: anything alphabet (we love our alphabet board games!), think anything number-related, memory games, checkers, chess, Scrabble, Connect 4. . . you get the idea. Better brands like Gamewright or ThinkFun are totally worth picking up.
- puzzles: Pick up anything–even if your kiddo isn’t doing much past wooden peg puzzles, grab some 24-piece jigsaws. Go nuts and buy some 50-piece jigsaws. Pick up puzzles with themes that your child might not love right now but may want to explore a few months down the road. Don’t even think twice about better brands like Melissa & Doug. If they’re selling them for a few dollars, it’s worth it.
- blocks: For building, for painting, for anything. More blocks can mean the difference between one tiny, lonely house and a whole neighborhood for your kids on a rainy spring day.
- legos, lincoln logs, tinker toys: As with blocks, if you find a yard sale where the kid has outgrown them and is selling her lifetime collection of something like Legos, Lincoln Logs or Tinker Toys, don’t think twice. Kids love Legos. Parents love Legos. And if you have a decent-sized plastic box to store each of these in, you’ll stay sane.
- crafty items:
- paper: Big rolls, little rolls, construction paper, fancy paper–kids will find some way to use this for cards, artwork, or letters to friends.
- note cards: If they’re blank inside, they’re great for letter writing practice and sending long-distance hugs to pals or family members. Tacky? Who cares?
- household items:
- cookie trays: You can use one that’s in decent shape for playing with your magnetic letters, keeping craft supplies close, or for sticky finger writing;
- magazines: I’m talking kid ones here, like Highlights, High Five, My Big Backyard–it doesn’t matter. Kiddos will still love to read them, and you can play Magazine Hunt with just about any ole issue!
- plastic dishes: Even the kiddie ones with dividers are super for re-usable palates if you can get them cheap enough! Grab an inexpensive set of plastic ones and take them with you to the pool this summer. Or leave them in the sandbox–they’re so much cooler than the store-bought sand toys!
- jars: I think if you can get these cheap enough, there are a million ways of using them. Science experiments, color-mixing, flower vases, sorting colors–inside or outside–so many possibilities.
- boxes: Plastic, wicker, cloth–it doesn’t matter. You can use them in some way to organize something in your house. Don’t all moms get a kick out of labeling boxes?
- clothes: If it’s a reasonably clean home, and they’re selling cool dresses, shoes, or hats, think ‘dress-up’ and buy-away. (Just remember to dry-clean or wash them yourself before throwing them in the ‘dress-up’ box.)
- decorations: My super-cool sisters are rolling their eyes at this one, but holiday decorations–especially those with words on them–can make holidays more fun for little ones. And if they’re staring at the same ‘Halloween’ placemats for the 30 days of October, they just might be the first kids in the class to know how to spell it on their own.
- books, books, books! Either at yard sales, book sales, church or hospital fund-raisers, buy books. Buy more books. Share them, give them away, and read them over and over.
Create a literate environment in your home by keeping books inside, outside, in the car, in bedrooms, in the living room, in the bathroom–everywhere. Buy varied genres, buy early readers and later readers, buy children’s books and buy picture books. Buy coffee-table books if they’re cheap enough, and let your kids cut pictures for home-made Alphabet Books or for cutting practice.
Buy gently used workbooks if they’re there, because maybe your kiddo will think it’s cool to play school with them, or maybe they’ll make a road trip pass more enjoyably this summer. Plus, if you to “try out” used workbooks and like them, maybe you’ll buy more of the series as your child gets older.
fyi: Here’s the Yard Sale Look-For’s as a pdf, and it even has a Cheat-Sheet at the end so you can sneak it in your back pocket and not look like you’re on a treasure hunt in your neighbor’s front yard.
The saying is so true–one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So stop the car, look around, and pick up some useful things for you and your kiddos. This list is by no means exhaustive. Did I forget something? Let me know–please!! Happy discount shopping!