Covid-19 and quarantine will continue to take its toll long after we are allowed to return to our classrooms. With immense budget cuts looming on the horizon, we will be asked once again to conquer the impossible. Can we deliver exceptional instruction with little or no funding? We polled our education colleagues and got a lot of great responses… Here are some surefire teaching tips when on a tight budget.
Tip #1 ~ Cut Costs on Classroom Supplies
“Shop at the Dollar Store, Target dollar area, and take donations.” ~ Jacky B.
“I print on colored paper to make something more eye catching like a reward or game rather than buy colored ink.” ~ Michelle L.
“Garage sales have been my best way to get new materials and games! I’ve been lucky to find a few retiring teacher garage sales.” 👍 ~ Amanda L.
“I have furnished my entire classroom with “treasures” from Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat, and yard sales. I take other people’s junk and refurbish it into stuff I can use. My “reading couch” (loveseat) only cost $5 and my students (and colleagues) love to sit on it!! I love finding things I can repurpose in the classroom!” ~ Tasha S.
“Dollar tree, retired teacher give aways, and stock Facebook marketplace!! Oh, and I’ve gotten sweet deals on Amazon too.” 🤩🌟💗 ~ Kelley G.
“Ask for donations. Try to buy in bulk and take advantage of free shipping. Also, buy second hand from teacher swap sites for some items.” ~ Kristi T-A.
“Never throw anything away!”😱 ~ Bonnie B.
#2 ~ Utilize Others
“I always check the storage rooms first and ask colleagues if they have extras.” ~ Brittany R.
“Always ask for support from the community. You’d be surprised who is willing to help you. I also like to purchase things that can be reused each year. Sometimes it may seem like it’s a lot of money up front, but when it lasts year after year without having to be replaced, it’s worth it. For example, my dad made wooden caddies and a calendar. They are sturdy and I haven’t had to replace them for several years.” ~ Natalie S.
“Find retired teachers that are selling things!! I’ve built my classrooms from this.” ~ Brooke M.
“Put up a “Giving Tree” poster in your room. Attach sticky notes with things you need for your class, can be supplies or jobs parents can help with. This can save money and some valuable time.” ~ Sharon T.
“Ask parents for supplies when needed.” ~ Danielle L.
“Checking out local habitat/resale stores for classroom furniture! My mom found a bookshelf, painted it green, and added backing to make it even more colorful.” ~ Morgan N.
“Before buying anything, talk to the admin and teachers at your school. Figure out what items you need after assessing what the school has. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbor or mentor teacher if you can borrow some items. Chances are, they have extra sets of items they keep in storage. If you can find it, don’t buy it. You will find that you’ll have extra money throughout the year if you don’t spend your entire budget at once.” ~ Emily G.
Tip #3 ~ Use Free and Discounted Websites and Stores
“There is a great website called NAEIR which sells really cheap school supplies (you must use it in a school setting). By using the website, I can then use my school allocated money to buy some bigger items for my classroom.” ~ Devorah B.
“I always do the free option on TPT. I often re-create my own if I like something.” ~ Nicole D-M.
“In AZ, we have a store named “Treasures for Teachers.” There is a yearly membership, and minimal to no cost for donated items. Last year, I needed to teach “dozen” and got 28 egg cartons for free! Books are “fill a bag” for $5.00.” ~ Jennifer N-S.
“Honestly I buy a LOT on Amazon Prime day!” ~ Sydney P.
“HP instant ink has been a lifesaver in cutting my color printing costs.” ~ Lark L.
#4 ~ Books at a Discount
“Ordering books through First Book Marketplace!” ~ Ashley M.
“Library book sales and thrift stores.” ~ Marysia J.
“When I’m in need of more books, I use scholastic book order bonus points.” ~ Anjanette E-H.
“I have a trick for making the most out of Scholastic Bonus Points! Rewards points you get for a single order rise exponentially as more families purchase books. I inform parents about how Scholastic points work. I do not put pressure on them to buy, but I say if you plan to order books at all during the year, everyone should order books at the same time in August! This way, I am able to reach the 10,000 bonus points and we get the most rewards back possible from parent purchases. Plus, the students have the books from that order all year, and I can use the bonus points immediately so we have new books in the classroom to enjoy all year as well!” ~ Katie M.
“I use my bonus points to buy Scholastic books each year for my classroom library, Christmas gifts and even end of the year gifts some times. I also give away old or gently used books at the end or the beginning of each year to my students.” ~ Michelle L.
“Garage sales!!!! I buy books, treasure box items, and indoor recess games at them.” ~ Nicole D-M.
Tip #5 ~ Tap Into Free Money
“Apply for Walmart grants.” 🙂 ~ Ashley G.
“Being aware of what your school offers and what they can provide for you!” Rachel K.
“Apply for grants when you can, use Scholastic book club points, ask when other teachers are cleaning out rooms, and garage sales!” ~ Jodi H.
“Garage sales, dollar tree, donations from parents, and Donors Choose.” ~ Jillian W.
#6 ~ Don’t Toss It, Reuse It
“I save recyclable items from home. Toilet paper rolls, cardboard cereal boxes, and egg cartons for art and science projects. Also, I clean out tin cans, then decorate them to use as supply holders. Cut the tops off of Kleenex boxes to store supplies in my closet.” ~ Janessa F.
“I laminate name tags and reuse them over and over. I use a bit of finger nail polish and it takes off sharpie markers. Get clear packing tape and tape the spine and corners of all the books. They last a lot longer that way. Use plastic folders and reuse them for several years. I use clear protector sheet covers over and over that students can write on with dry erase markers.” ~ Michelle L.
“I reuse my same scissors every year (student scissors). Just clean them in the dishwasher. Same with my pencil boxes, I clean those with Clorox wipes.” ~ Nicole D-M.
I hope that these teaching tips when on a tight budget are helpful to you this next school year. We don’t need fancy classrooms with brand new materials to deliver outstanding instruction to our students.
~ Written by Janessa Fletcher
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