Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Terrific Infant and Toddler Products

Hello, all! My name is Tasha Lindstrom and I am the Circulation Analyst at Discount School Supply. The main priority of my job is to ensure that all our special offers and sales have the correct pricing in our operating system. That means when you purchase an item shown in a sale promotion, the price you see on paper is the same price you are charged – and we are very, very careful about that!

In the more circulation-related part of my job, I work with our printers, fulfillment company, and data management company to ensure that you receive each and every one of our catalogs right on schedule.

And, even though I really enjoy my job, right now there is something I’m enjoying even more. I’m going to be a new mom! It’s a very exciting time in my life, and I feel lucky to have a husband who supports me and a job at a company that offers terrific infant/toddler products. Since I announced my pregnancy at work, the Merchandising Department has given me the opportunity to test an assortment of infant/toddler products. I know that the purchases I make will work for me and my baby. Also, I suddenly find that I have lots to talk about with other “testers”: the moms and dads here at Discount School Supply who have been using our products for years with their kids.

Everyone has their favorites. Mine is the Snuggle Me Tot Support . I’ve been using the Snuggle Me during my pregnancy; I use it for support by wearing it around my back when I’m sitting up in bed or on the couch. It helps to ease some of my aches and pains. And when my cat snuggles up to me after rolling in the dirt, I can easily unzip the cover, remove, and wash it. When the baby arrives, I’ll be able to use it to relieve my arm strain, and also to provide him with support for tummy time to develop his neck muscles.

I’m thrilled to be working at Discount School Supply not only because I love the products. It also matters a lot to me that the company is extremely careful about product safety and that we are also committed to reducing our environmental impact. It matters more than ever now that I am becoming a parent. You can find more information about our activities in those areas by visiting My Community on our website.

If you’re a parent who wouldn’t mind sharing a product recommendation, I would definitely appreciate hearing from you! Thanks!

Dress Up Play

Hi, I’m Rebecca Patterson, Buyer at Discount School Supply for our Dramatic Play. I have been interested to discover that many studies about early childhood development show the great value of pretend play. In fact, many experts are concerned that children’s “imaginary” free-play time has dropped by 25% over the last 25 years. Children are spending more and more time in structured activities such as ballet, music, sports and academic activities in order to help them get into good preschools, then good elementary and preparatory schools, and finally into good colleges.

While those structured activities are certainly important, there are many great reasons for imaginary play. Dress up play is a great way for children to discover what it feels like to be someone else. In doing so, they practice vital skills such as sharing, taking turns, conversing, and expressing empathy. Pretending also allows children to test the waters of disappointment, fear, anger and discipline. These are all essential skills that need to be experienced in for healthy development.

Children love to learn about their communities by pretending to be the people they see everyday – family members, police officers, firefighters and doctors to name a few.

Kids can dress up in costumes and pretend to be somebody different, enhancing the love of pretend. They can be a chef in their own “Top Chef” competition, or a police officer running around the house issuing parking tickets, or a doctor bandaging a playmate’s “boo boo.”

Our Career Costumes - Set of 6 are made of high quality cotton twill and are completely machine-washable. Each costume features hook-and-loop front closures that make it easy for little ones to get in and out of the costumes on their own. I enthusiastically recommend our Career Costumes for Halloween fun but also for community dramatic play everyday in the classroom. I am especially happy to be involved with products in the Discount School Supply catalog that encourage children to pretend. I would love to hear about your successful dramatic play activities or about dramatic play products that you would like to see in our catalog.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Classroom Canvas Quilt!

Hi, I’m Marin Plank, senior buyer at Discount School Supply. In my 7 years with Discount School Supply I’ve had many opportunities to develop new and unique products, which is one of my favorite parts of my job. Anytime someone asks me about my favorite products, I always think of the Classroom Canvas Quilt.

The idea came from two different sources, the first being one of my favorite art projects from second grade. Every student was given a square of clay to mold onto, decorate and paint, and then the squares were fired, combined and mounted on the wall in the hallway, making a large mural. As I walked past the mural every day for the next 3 years, I always enjoyed finding my own square and seeing how each child’s individual artwork combined to become a large, colorful, cooperative masterpiece. (I think our clay mural is still hanging on the wall of my elementary school today!)

Years later, that image flooded back to me as I was standing in a toy showroom in Hong Kong on a buying trip for Discount School Supply. The toy manufacturer had created a large fabric piece hanging on the wall that had individual pockets for little dolls. Each little doll configured together to make a large display reminded me of my second grade art project, and seeing the fabric background flipped a product idea switch for me.

I really liked the idea of using fabric for a cooperative class project (much more lightweight than our clay mural!), so I sketched some designs for a white canvas quilt that could be easily hung on a wall, with squares that could be attached together without sewing. After choosing a manufacturer, deciding on size and material specifications, and designing an easy system for hooking the fabric squares together with buttons, the Classroom Canvas Quilt was born! I love this item because every child gets to create their own special artwork, and they also get the satisfaction of being part of a communal project with lasting results. I also like that it is so affordable, portable, and easy to assemble.

I will never forget meeting my son’s daycare director for the first time and seeing “my” Classroom Canvas Quilt hanging on the wall of her office. Each child in one of the classrooms had created a quilt square for her, and together the squares made a special gift that she proudly displayed. Another of my favorite quilt activities is creating “thankful” quilt, depicting something that each child is grateful for. It is so touching to see artwork of all the special people and things in the children’s lives displayed together; this makes a wonderful classroom display at holiday time. We also recently had an office crafting day here at Discount School Supply, and the project was to create a company Classroom Quilt. We combined several quilts together, with each employee decorating a square, and now our large Company Quilt hangs on the wall of our conference room. Classroom Quilts aren’t just for kids anymore!

I’d love to hear other suggestions and ways that the classroom quilt has been used. Please share them with me!

Dream Glue

Hello, my name is Gloria Knowles. I am a buyer in the Arts and Crafts Department at Discount School Supply. Before becoming a buyer, I was an Elementary Art teacher. I had the opportunity to teach the art program for Kindergarten to 6th-grade students. Since I was a travelling teacher who went with my art cart into each classroom to give the art lesson, I was always looking for easy and cost-effective ways for dispensing art materials to the students. Glue was a product I used constantly for many of the art lessons, yet I found that it was so challenging to distribute glue to the children quickly and in a form that was easy for them to use. The glue also needed to be as mess-free as possible so that I could leave one classroom neat and clean and then move on for the next class.

Now, as the buyer for glues at Discount School Supply, I have had the opportunity to work on developing some user-friendly glue products for teachers. In short, I was on a quest for my “dream glue.” I began to search with many of our vendors to see what we could find.

To save money, many teachers buy the large gallon of Colorations white or clear glue. A big bottle of glue is economical – but it poses another challenge. What smaller “dispenser” can you put the glue into that won’t require a lot of clean-up afterwards and is still easy for the children to use? I was very happy to find what I thought was the ideal solution: a set of small jars that could be filled from the gallon bottle. These glue jars have a wide base so they don’t tip easily. Inside the cap, a handy glue brush is attached so children can apply glue without getting it on their fingers. The jars are clear so you can see how much glue is in the jar. Because they are clear, these same jars are also great to use with paints. The little brush in the lid works just as well with paint as it does with glue. These jars (GLUEJAR) turned out to be the perfect way to dispense glue and paint to students.

Sometimes, the actual activity of gluing can be a challenge for children, especially when they are gluing 3-D materials or doing collage projects. Often some glues take too much time to set, and students become impatient as they wait, holding items in place on their projects. Thicker, more tacky glues can work very well when you have such art projects planned. So for those special projects where thicker glue will allow a more successful creative experience, I wanted to find another glue-dispensing product to meet this challenge. I found a jar filled with super-thick glue that provides quick and easy gluing. The jars are kid-sized and easy for small hands to manipulate. Each jar has a wide applicator attached in the lid; again it’s the perfect tool for children to use to place glue just where it’s needed without getting sticky fingers. The thick glue works great for holding materials in place and dries clear very quickly. Discount School Supply offers this handy jar with tacky glue as a set of 12 for classroom use (TCGJAR).

At Discount School Supply, we have many other great glue products such as glue sticks, glue pens, and bottles of glue in various sizes. We know that you can find the right glue for your classroom projects. I hope you’ll like the two I’ve described here, and I hope that you’ll find your “dream glue” in the pages of our catalog or on our website at If not, I would love to hear from you if you have a special kind of gluing need for your classroom. Please get in touch!