Stepping Stones by heidi o'hanley Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms. WAYS TO MAKE ORDERING SUPPLIES EASIER IF YOU CAN, ORDER BULK FOR SUPPLIES you consume every year, such as markers, pastels, crayons and colored pencils. Certain items go up in price every year, so this helps to “lock in” at that lower price. Frosting on the cake? In doing so, I have at least a three-year backup supply. 3 love receiving new art supplies. I love opening new packages, emptying and replacing materials in their bins, and pulling the fresh materials out for the first time for a new project. I also dislike art supplies. I get frustrated with writing up the orders for all my schools, squinting at the order codes, typing them into the small order forms, squeezing in as much as I can into my sometimes tight budget, and realizing I forgot an item after the order has been sent in. Working with art materials is my biggest love/hate relationship in my job. Depending on your place of work, you may be ordering now or at the end of the school year for the following year. Either way, it’s an important task that needs to be done in order for your curriculum to be effectively delivered. If you’re like me, you have orders coming out of more than five different catalogs. Supply companies fight for the best prices, and you spend time searching for deals to get the most for your money. And, on top of ordering your art materials for students, you also need to keep up with your basic teaching supplies! Here are a few tips to alleviate the frustrations when you plan your supply budgets. In the beginning, you may be spending time searching for what you need, but over time, ordering becomes easier. I 4 5 FIND FREE SHIPPING OFFERS. This will save at least $50–60, which can go right back in for more supplies. IF YOUR BUDGET IS SLIM, create an online account with websites such as Art Room Aid (www.dickblick. com/ara)or Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org/). If you start a year ahead of time, you may very well have some generous donors help you out with your budget woes. I recommend setting up projects on these sites that use special materials, so you can use your actual budget for your mostneeded, most-used materials. KNOW YOUR SPACE AND STORAGE. At my main school, I share a classroom with limited storage. I need supplies for 23 classes, averaging 25 students per class, plus I host an after-school art program. My second school used to be on a cart; with having everything in boxes and bins, I forgot what items I had because they were stored away so deep. 6 the best prices out of all the art catalogs you can. When you find a stellar price that suits your budget, save the code for future use in the digital document you use to keep organized. There are at least four companies I order supplies from, and I know what supplies I need from each company—after doing my research. By saving your lists, you will make it easier on yourself when typing your codes in the next few years. CREATE YOUR ORDER FORMS with Microsoft Excel or a similar program. Make a separate form for each company you order from. You can then save the forms for the next year, which makes it easier to repeat order those items, without having to re-type the product codes and descriptions. All I do is update the page numbers and product prices for items I consistently order. My district has a standard order form for purchase orders, so I simply print my Excel order and tape it on top of my school’s requested forms. 12 1 SPEND AT LEAST ONE YEAR in depth researching out of a supply, ordered it, then found that supply you thought you were out of, leaving you with double the supply? Yeah, that happens to me a lot. Labeling my cabinets and boxes boldly helps alleviate that problem. 7 LABEL YOUR STUFF. Have you ever thought you were 8 LEAVE SOME MONEY FOR THE MIDDLE OF THE YEAR IF YOU CAN. I always have to order more supplies mid-year, either because I don’t have enough and ran out, or I need fresh clay. You will have to write out another order, but it helps, especially with storage issues. My principals automatically hold back a small amount every year, and around December, I place a second, much smaller order. In the beginning of the next school year, you get your biggest reward from all that hard work: boxes of new art supplies! Like any new teacher, taking the time in the beginning to do your research makes your job much easier in the long run. It just takes some time to get there! n Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Heidi O’Hanley (NBCT) teaches elementary art for Indian Springs School District #109, in the Greater Chicago Area. Visit her blog at www. talesfromthetravellingartteacher.blogspot.com. m a r c h 2 0 1 4 • 81 Y E A R S 2 x www.ar tsandactivities.com
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