Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Finding Innovative Teaching Materials for Free!

balls.jpgThis month's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators involves my best tips for acquiring materials for my Lamaze classes.  When you are an interactive instructor, you look at all kinds of objects you see and wonder how you could incorporate them into your childbirth class activities.  I often get my best ideas and materials from my local "Buy Nothing" Facebook group. The Buy Nothing Project is a hyper-local gift economy that was started not quite three years ago by two women who live on Bainbdridge Island, near my home in Seattle, WA. This program has since spread to over 18 countries with thousands of local groups. Check out the Buy Nothing website above to see if there is a local group in your area. Their rules are simple" “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.”  You can find all the "Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators" here.

Since I joined my local group years about two years ago, I have been gifted many things that have become an integral part of my childbirth class activities:

  • Birth balls for families to use during class and to practice labor positions with
  • Cloth diapers and diaper wraps I use when discussing newborn care.
  • Sleep sacks, onesies and other clothes for newborn caring.
  • Swaddle blankets
  • Bean bags numbered 1-10 that I use in an activty to talk about labor progress
  • "Mr. Potato Head" toys
  • Current pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting books to offer as prizes in class
  • Several different breastfeeding pillows (which I use to demo that regular pillows often work better!)
  • A whole library of baby carriers including 12 moby wraps, so that the entire class can practice at once
  • A rack to hang baby carriers on
  • Eight step stools to practice lunging with.
  • Bean bag chair to demonstrate uses for labor
  • Floor pillows to sit on and use during position practice
  • White boards and dry erase markers
  • Permanent markers, crayons, and pens.
  • A shoe holder to store shoes outside my shoes off classroom
  • A coat rack
  • An upholstered bench that has storage to hold all my Ikea dolls
  • The couch and recliner in my office space attached to the classroom
  • All the dishes, cups, mugs, silverware and kitchen supplies for snack time, along with disposable paper products
  • Several yoga mats
  • "Quote bubble" shaped paper that I have used to share and post inspirational birth quotes
  • Polished stones that I have written affirmational words on for a confidence building exercise
  • Throw blankets
  • Different models of breastpumps for demo
  • Wedding bubble favors that I use during breathing practice
  • Assorted postpartum items for my postpartum survival kit
  • Disposable gloves for the "eggs" that I use to teach perineal massage.
  • Decks of cards for an activity to discuss when to go the birth location
  • Postpartum, breastfeeding and baby supplies to share with the families (postpartum pads, breastpads, diapers, etc.)
  • 1000 waterpoof dental disposable from a retired dentist that the families took to use for diaper changes on the run

bean bags.jpgI have been on the lookout for some Mega Bloks or Duplos for several weeks now.  I am confident that they will show up eventually.  I have a great idea for them in my breastfeeding class and will share in a future post.  There are many other places that you can also source innovative teaching supplies and classroom needs.  In addition to Buy Nothing, you might consider the "Free Stuff" on Craigslist, Freecyle, or Trash Nothing.  Using this type of gifting economy helps me to reduce expenses, keep class tuition lower, allows my neighbors to declutter their homes, and keeps things out of the landfills. It is a win for everyone!  Do you have creative and useful places that you like to source for free teaching and classroom supplies? Share your suggestions and ideas in the comments section so we can all benefit. 

BONUS: Additionally, check out LCCE Stacie Bingham's suggestion "Trick or Treat: Halloween Spoils Make Great Teaching Aids" to take advantage of the leftover Halloween materials that retailers are putting on clearance now. 



November 1, 2016 04:36 AM by Mallory Emerson

How many duplos do you need? I have them coming out the ears over here and would happily bring some to the inservice next week.

You also have me curious how you use the bean bags for labor progress... love this series! Thanks Sharon! 

Bean Bags

November 1, 2016 05:54 AM by Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), CLE

Hi Mallory - Thanks for asking about the bean bags.  I often toss them to families and ask them to tell me comfort measures, positions and coping skills they might do for that stage/phase of labor (each bean bag represents the cms from 1-10.)  How might they feel emotionally?  What might they need?  What can support people do?  That is one example, but you can get creative and think of other activities to.  They are nice to have for fun ideas.

Halloween candy great idea!

November 2, 2016 07:10 AM by Kathy Shuman

I couldn't find the candy brain molds last year or this year...  i'm going to think outside the box.   I am going to use the "Take 5" mini candy bars and use them for introducing a great idea I've learned from so many wonderful educators regarding just how to get the parents to be able remember to take a few minutes...5 to be exact and think about the brain acronym 

1 benefits

2 risks 

3 advantages 

4 intuition 

5 now or not now 

I'm hoping for a good response! 

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