Things to have on hand for school emergencies

It's 9 o'clock. The bedtime routine is nearly completed: teeth brushed, homework done and back packs packed for tomorrow. Your only thought is finding a moment of relaxation before falling into bed. As you tuck Junior into bed, he mentions tomorrow's class bake sale. You know the one. You signed the teacher's note. The one that said you'd contribute a homemade dessert. Your internal "flight or fight" mechanism kicks in and you realize that your hours of work are far from over.

But how do you keep from getting stuck in the dark next time a forgotten project resurfaces long after the neighborhood stores have closed? The secret lies in the essentials you keep stocked in your closet. Whether it's a science project or class party, we've assembled a list of last minute solutions to keep on hand helping you get through your next surprise task.

Kitchen Keepers

Ready Made Brownie Mix
Brownies make a great bake sale treat or last minute birthday celebration. Most call for just a egg and a cup of water but by adding other around the kitchen ingredients such as a cup of chocolate chips, nuts or marshmallows they become extra special and still allow for easy clean up.

What child doesn't love the Rice KrispiesTM treats? Keeping a bag of marshmallows on hand and a half eaten box of cereal can become quick and easy treats. Simply melt a bag of marshmallows in a cup of butter and toss in any assortment of cereals. Spread out on foil, cut and wrap.

Popcorn is an easy treat that can be served alone or tossed together with other cabinet remnants such as peanuts, cereals or dried fruit to become a homemade trail mix.

Slice and Bake Cookie Dough
They are easy, tasty and can be found in the refrigerator case of your supermarket. Refrigerated cookie dough can be kept in your home freezer as well. Pull out some dough and just slice and bake. Try sprinkling colored sugar on top or rollout and cut with shaped cutters to add a personal touch to a store bought secret.

Craft Keepers and Extra School Supplies

Every house with children should have a craft kit tucked under a bed or nestled in a closet. Most items can be picked up at a dollar store and stored in a Rubbermaid container. Whether it's a last minute costume, homemade display of the solar system or special occasion celebration, your craft kit should provide you the tools to get the job done. Just a few of the items you might want to include:
  1. Glue
  2. Construction paper
  3. Markers and crayons
  4. Poster boards
  5. Scissors
  6. Colored electrical tape
  7. Masking and scotch tape
  8. Glitters
  9. Assorted paints
  10. String or yarn
  11. Assorted Styrofoam balls
  12. White t-shirt, black t-shirt (for costumes)
  13. Molding Clay
  14. Balloons
  15. Curling ribbon
  16. Solid color napkins
  17. Plastic tablecloths
  18. Feathers, beads and sponges

For building models for science projects try papier-mâché
Simply tear pieces of old newspapers into strips, dip into a mixture of flour and water and apply to a sturdy surface. Applying papier-mâché strips to inflated balloons can create animals or people; empty paper towel tubes provide a great stalk for making trees or limbs. For quick drying, blow with a blow dryer. Utilize your craft kit paints to put on the finishing touches.

Solar Systems
Painted Styrofoam balls suspended by yarn from a wire coat hanger makes a quick and easy solar system display. Your child can label each planet by inserting flags made from toothpicks and colored paper into the Styrofoam balls.

Birthday Parties
Your craft kit can produce a quick birthday celebration basket ready to travel to any park or classroom. Toss the following items into a straw basket: plastic tablecloth, colored napkins and balloons. Create treat bags by filling sandwich bags with one of the quick treats described above and tying with multicolored strips of curling ribbon. For the real ambitious, try making a homemade piñata by decorating a plain brown paper bag with markers, glitter and strings of curling ribbon suspended from the bottom. Fill with your favorite wrapped treats.

For older children

You might think that preteens and junior high schoolers actually anticipate their own needs and give you some advance notice. Not true! When Sunday night rolls around and your 8th grader is frantically finishing that report she knew about three weeks ago, the last thing you want to be doing is scrounging for the things she needs to get the job done! There's another advantage to having all the supplies ready at a moment's notice -- you're leaving her with no possible excuses for not finishing the assignment on time. Here are some items to add to your craft/school supplies list:

  1. Report Covers
  2. 3-hole punch
  3. Spare printer cartridge & plenty of white printer paper
  4. Stapler
  5. Empty Shoe Boxes (high school kids make dioramas too!)
  6. Poster paint and small brushes
  7. Dictionary and Thesaurus
  8. Calculator
  9. Ruler, compass and protractor

Also see:
Get ready for back-to-school
Tips for managing homework
Managing morning madness