Today’s question is from Melissa:
After a year of job searching, I was just offered a position as an interventionist at an elementary school. I am starting from scratch. I do not have anything to set up my room for the fall.
In my district, we get $200 to buy our supplies, however that will not be nearly enough to make my classroom. Classroom rugs cost nearly $400 and then I have to buy books for my classroom library, totes to store supplies, the supplies itself (pencils, paper, crayons, etc).
Is there a way I can somehow buy the necessary supplies for my classroom for less? -Melissa
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Could you please describe what an interventionist does? What state do you work in please?
Amanda B. says
I am a former teacher and a homeschool mom. You could do a whole lot with your $200! First, I would check out the dollar tree. I get SO much of my bulletin board materials there, and it is all very good quality. Secondly, I would hit every thrift store and yard sale I could find. Thirdly, try some homeschool book sales. They don’t always just sell curriculum. You could find classroom books, bulletin board idea books, and puzzles and games at bargain prices. Plus, the moms are always willing to give advice or pitch in. I would also suggest you find a Carson Dellosa or Scholastic Warehouse sale if there is one in your area. When I taught school, we would drive 3 hours away every spring and fall to pick through theses sales, and it was worth it every time. Finally (it really should have been first), be sure you make a plan for the year. It will help you to not overspend on items that you don’t need. God bless you and your classroom!
Kristen @ Joyfullythriving says
I am a teacher, and have been teaching, for nine years. I have taught at small Lutheran schools where we do not receive any money for our classrooms. I would venture to say that I spend less than $200 each year – at most – on my classroom. Could I spend more? Certainly, but I’ve learned to prioritize and be thrifty about what I really “need” and therefore, buy.
Don’t buy the $400 rug. Want one? Buy a $20 one at Walmart. Sure, it’s not as fancy, but it serves the same purpose. Shoebox bins are $0.97 at Walmart and serve a variety of purposes. Or go to the Dollar Tree and stock up on bins there. Watch school supply sales in July and August and store hop to get the best deals. Put a wish list out to parents, if you really have a need, for items like cardstock, clorox wipes or various classroom supplies that aren’t on the school supply list. I try to keep these items under $5 each, and parents are free to contribute, if they like. Completely optional. Shop for books and other classroom supplies at garage sales and thrift stores. With a little creativity and a lot of frugality, you can do a great job of outfitting your classroom. Enjoy having your own classroom! It’s a great responsibility and priviledge!
As a classroom teacher who has changed positions several times, I can offer suggestions as look into joining your local Freecycle group to see if people had materials that they no longer are using with their children. Summer is a good time as people are cleaning out. I’d look at garage sales, thrift sales, and library book sales to gain materials for the classroom. I would put an ad on Craigslist. I’d try to write a grant for materials. Also, try websites like DonorsChose to get donations towards materials.
nikki g says
i use our local dollar tree for writing supplies and organizers. but you can also order online from their teacher section
I purchased a couple fabric cd holders at a dollar store. They have clear vinyl pockets. These work great for pocket charts. Can fold and pushpin to the size needed.
Also your school may have Ellison die-cuts available for your use. If not, check to see if your community has a child care resource library for teachers. They may have the die-cuts that you use to cut decorations and projects for your classroom.
And yard sales and your local library’s book sale are a great way to find inexpensive books.
Tiffany @ Wife.Mother.Teacher. says
I’m a HUGE fan of donorschoose.org! We received funding for a classroom IPad in 5 days! 🙂
As a former teacher, now FRUGAL stay at home mom, I suggest being creative. Look through teacher supply catalogs and try to find ways to make it yourself for less. For example, in August, stores like Walmart have room-sized rugs for $20-$30. Instead of buying the classroom rugs for $400, you can tape off squares and use specialty paint, etc.
Another idea I used was to make a “giving tree” which had leaves with items I needed for my classroom written on them. Many parents were so generous in picking up some of these items for me.
Also, try to wait to buy games/toys for your room until Black Friday- many of the classic games go on sale for $3-$4 then.
Otherwise, scour thrift stores, garage sales, discount stores, craigslist, etc. Make a list of the ESSENTIALS you’ll need before school starts and prioritize.
Wishing you the best!
Do a search for a Staples/Office Depot warehouse or discount store. I find amazing deals at the ones in So. California. You could also do the same search for school supplies discount stores or warehouse or office supplies. DonorsChoose is also a good idea and drop at regularly at your local Dollar or 99cent stores. I recently found some great space/solar system themed wall decals. Good luck and think outside of the box.
This may sound weird, but have you put a notice on your Facebook account for the most wished for items? I volunteered at a camp for at risk elementary students, and we would reach out to whoever we could on Facebook, to see if someone knew someone. In the end, we ended up with a computer lab, with 13 donated computers, refurbished by a company that does that professionally, but donated the services to us. It was the second or third person down the line that happened to be the right person! I know some of my friends are better than others about spreading the word, but it never hurts to ask. You have no idea who might know someone who could help.
The Phoenix, Arizona area has a neat place called Treasures for Teachers that sells supplies, decor, etc only to teachers at extremely discounted prices. Perhaps there’s something near you that is similar?
Goodwill and Dollar stores may have some of the things you need for very little $$$ as well. Some misc. supplies could be found at something like KidsClosetConnection sales (all over the country – usually very well priced)
Never be afraid to ask if a manager will override a limit – show him/her your teacher ID…you’d be amazed how often this has worked for my mom (retired teacher) and my daughter’s teachers!
Kathye Shuman says
For books, check with your local library. Our libraries here have an annual book sale of donated books and books they are taking out of circulation. Very very cheap.
For classroom supplies, check with local churches. Just about every large church in our area collects supplies and offerings for helping teachers stock their classrooms every fall. A lot of times our church just gives to the school because we don’t know of specific teacher needs, so don’t hesitate to let a church know of your need.
I’ve been teaching for 16 years and there are lots of freebies that teachers can get. I follow this blog and a few local sites so that I know when cleaning supplies are on sale at low prices. (Check with teachers at your site to find out how often the janitors clean the room. At my site, they take out trash each night and vacuum once a week, but they don’t clean the desk tops, dust, or clean the board.) Bic typically puts out a coupon towards the end of summer for .50 to 1.00 off of writing utensils. I order more coupons from a clipping site and then use them to get free or cheap pens for the year. Target also tends to put out coupons for classroom supplies. There are also some other sites – teacherlists.com is one that comes to mind – where you can put up your list and then they send you a few freebies throughout the year. One of the other sites that I find helpful because I teach in a very low income area is Colgate – during the school year, they make dental kits available to teachers. It has a toothbrush, sample floss, and toothpaste that you can give to children as needed. The kit also comes with coupons. I usually use the toothpaste ones to get larger tubes for the hygiene kits that we often give to children.
Find a retired teacher and ask for there stuff. They will sell it to you for Pennies on the dollar and give you some. Often at the beginning off the school year teachers in your building will be giving away anything that they have extras of. In this economy even teaching is not a very secure job. Our local school cuts cost by completely rollover staff every 2 to 3 years so buy as little a is absolutely necessary and things that are easily portable. Also most dollar stores now have lots of cute decorations.
Any chance there are retiring teachers who would bequeath there stuff to you? How about veteran teachers who have accumulated WAY too much (this would be me) and would share?
Two of our local libraries have used book sales in the spring and fall. We’ve been able to find gently used kids’ books for 25-50 cents each. You can also get really good books at garage sales. I love Scholastic and just discovered a small business (Library & Educational Services) who specializes in selling books to homeschoolers, libraries, and schools at deep discounts. http://marketplace.theblaze.com/library-and-educational-services-products.html
See if you can get into the school now and talk to some of the teachers that are currently teaching, they will have ideas of where to get things for your local community- teacher store,free teacher stores, and they’ll share. It’s how teachers are geared. I know very few teachers who don’t love to help anew teacher get their feet on the ground. I know when I left I left boxes of stuff for the teacher who was taking over for me. I just talked to him at a wedding this year and he said it was such a blessing to get into a room and have a giant box of supplies waiting on him. So, check it out, the previous teacher may have left you some supplies depending on their situation when they left. Best of luck. Enjoy the school year.
The first year is always the hardest because you are literally started scratch and anything you make will take time. And finding time isn’t always easy. I was recently at JoAnn’s looking for some supplies and I found these great dry erase poster boards that had birthday months, presidents, etc for $1.99. Plus you could use the coupons they have if you are on their mailing list. Dry erase posters are awesome because you can reuse them time after time. I do a lot of my shopping at Staples. I start in July and take advantage of the weekly deals they advertise. If you sign up for their rewards program you’ll get advance notice of sales and coupons. Plus you’ll earn Reward Dollars to help with bigger purchases. Dollar stores will also start getting in a bunch of organizing buckets and bins. They work great for little kids and if they break, it won’t cost much to replace. They also have a classroom area where you can find some great items for decorations. Start with your absolute essentials, the rest will all come over time. I know my classroom looks bare at the beginning of the school year, but soon it will be covered in the kids’ artwork. Good luck!
Not sure about your area but my local library has yearly book sales! Kids books are about 50cents and also try the GoodWill
Rebekah Schultz says
Great for books, check for BIG SALE in your area for best savings!
If you’re allowed to hang up curtains in your room, I’ve found a simple and cheap alternative–shower curtains! I found two matching, cloth shower curtains at WalMart for $5 each. Then I bought two simple shower curtain rods for $3 each. So, I spent $16 on some cute, bright curtains that really liven up the classroom and add character.
Lisa s says
Ask the pto if they can help out or other clubs that help your school. Let them know the situation. Our lions club got local businesses to donate enough this year that the elementary school kids didn’t have a school supply’s list this past year, everything was provided. Maybe the groups in your area could help you with donations to fund setting up the necessary supplies for you.
For books, you could contact an Usborne Books & More representative in your area (http://www.usbornebooksandmore.com/) and arrange for a Reach for the Stars read-a-thon where parents read to their children 15 minutes per day for two weeks and the kids get pledges from sponsors (relatives, neighbors, friends). At the end of the two weeks, there is a book fair where the kids get 1/2 of the pledge money to buy books and your classroom would get the other 1/2. These would be FREE books for your classroom and the books are very high quality books. I do this pledge drive once a year for classroom and the teacher ends up with an average of $600 in free books each pledge drive. Plus it encourages reading and kids end up with free books too!
Head to the dollar store and used book stores. Also check out garage sales and flea markets. You will be amazed at well you will be able to do with a little creativity and ingenuity. Good luck!
First, save your receipts because you can deduct your non-reimbursed expenses up to $250 from your taxes as a teacher. Actually it is a credit which my accounting husband says is better than a deduction.
Second, the Dollar Tree has a lot of great containers for organizing and storing books by theme or level. They also have cute borders for bulletin boards that rival the expensive ones at teacher supply stores. Hit up Target’s Dollar section, too, for cute borders. Get a Max Perks or Staples card and watch their sales for things you need for your classroom. You will get rebates or coupons from them. I agree about looking for the sales in the summer and stocking up where necessary. Goodwill is great for paperbacks and if you’re allowed to do Scholastic book orders, you can get points to buy books for your room for free.
Last, don’t feel like you need all your supplies now. You might not need a classroom rug immediately. I remember being in your shoes and spending sooo much out of pocket in the beginning. Getting a good handle on the curriculum, and in your case, the intervention program and the testing data or other criteria for your students to receive your support, makes a more lasting difference than a perfect room.
Just because you care about your room and supplies shows you will care about your students. I’m beginning to pack up my classroom (11th year of teaching, last 8 in 2nd grade) so I can stay home with our baby. I know I will miss it. Enjoy making a difference!
First off, congrats on the new job! As for supplies, make a list of the things that are absolutely necessary that your district doesn’t supply (most supply paper, pencils, crayons, ect but if not these items will come first). When it comes to furnature or books, look at yard sales, thrift stores or if you have any teacher friends who are retiring ask if you can have what they’ll no longer be using. Also, check on your campus to see if there are any storage items or tables that have been set aside that aren’t being used.
Items in teacher mazagines or teacher stores will be more expensive, so get creative. By a plain rug and change it with paint to fit your needs. Repurpose shoe boxes or other cheap items to use as storage until you can buy more durable items.
Don’t feel the need to fill your classroom before day 1. Do what you can and as you teach you will come across more items you can utilize in your room 🙂
I am also a teacher, and when I started out I went to a large chain flooring company and asked for any samples they had to spare- they were generous enough to give me a floor model carpet for my room ( ugly, but free!) and 20 carpet squares!! It doesn’t matter what you need- even the big stuff- ASK!!
These are all great ideas! I totally get your dilemma. I worked at a private school and got even less than $200 to set up my classroom.
1.First, find out what is already in your classroom. As soon as you can, go in and survey your classroom to find out what you really do need. I was surprised by how much I already had. The previous teacher had transferred to a lower grade and left most of her library behind for me.
2. Prioritize. Start with the bare necessities and you can add as the years go on.
3. Absolutely ask for donations from friends, freecyle, and local businesses.
4. In addition to yard sales and library sales, church rummage sales are great for books and other odds and ends. You never know what you can find.
5. Look outside the box (and the teacher catalogues)! If you can think creatively, inexpensive items make great storage. Even trash can be turned into treasure! Spray paint or wrap coffee and soup cans with yarn, jute, or pretty paper for storing school supplies. You can also cover boxes with pretty paper or fabric. Cereal boxes can be turned into magazine files, or regular boxes can be storage bins. Costco/BJ’s, liquor stores, or grocery stores will save boxes for you if you ask. Or you could ask friends with babies to save diaper boxes.
6. You can use the computer and school laminator to make banners and signs for your classroom. You can customize them the way you want, and they’re way cheaper than buying those bulletin board packs at the school supply store.
7. Make friends with your co-workers and see if they’ll let you borrow bulletin board packs, borders, etc.
8. A warm and welcoming classroom doesn’t need to be perfectly decorated. Try not to get sucked into the beautifully designed classrooms you’ll see on Pinterest or the fancy (and EXPENSIVE) furniture, rugs, and supplies you’ll see in teacher catalogs.
9. Once you have what you absolutely need for the classroom, it’s best to focus on the basics like curriculum and a classroom management plan. The first year of teaching is difficult, but if you know your curriculum and have a plan it will make a world of difference!
Congratulations on your new position and best wishes for a successful first year!
Most schools have faculty changes. When I was ready to move, there were several teachers interested in purchasing the furniture and equipment I had purchased with out of my salary. I was glad to let it go for a fraction of what I had paid for it because the school was dear to me and I could no longer use the furniture, sports equipment, etc. The consumables (paper, stickers, supplies) I gave to the new teachers. You might check to see who is leaving now while they are ending things and cleaning out classrooms. Congratulations on your choice of a rewarding career, from a still-teaching, now home-educating, happy mom.
Shari Davidsmeier says
Sign up for every teacher discount program(places like Office Depot, Barnes &Noble, etc). I’ve gotten TONS of classroom supie from garage/yard sales; books, games, puppets, storage bins/containers, CDs , etc. Stores like Dollar Tree Nd the $1 section at Target also have lots of stuff, especially as you get closer to the start of the school year. You have to learn how to think outside of the box when it comes to being a teacher!
Courtney McGarity says
I am currently a first grade teacher at a high poverty school in Savannah, GA. Our school only gives us $100 to set up so I completely understand how difficult it can be to somehow find the funds to set up a student ready classroom. I’ve got two suggestions. 1. Ask other teachers if they have any furniture/spare things lying around that you can get creative with and use. 2. Set up a donorschoose.org account and spread the word about your project. DonorsChoose.org is a website that you can request donations for certain projects. It’s super easy to set up and people from all over donate! In the past two years, I’ve had several projects completed due to the generosity of others and have received an iPod touch, classroom set of science based books for student use, and the entire year’s worth of Common Core based literature (over $500).
Best of luck and get creative!
Crissy S. says
Freebies are obviously a great start. As far as books go, so are yard sales.
Maximize the web in terms of matching sales and coupons to get items for free or nearly free.
Ask your new coworkers if they have anything they are not using which you can borrow or maybe even be given.
Perhaps your district has a teacher warehouse? We have a foundation which, amongst other things, collects items from businesses which teachers can pick up for free!
Lastly, try DonorsChoose.org.
Let your family and friends know what you are looking for.
My sister is a teacher and each Spring makes my mom and I a list of things she is looking for and while we are at garage sales we can also look for her. 3 pairs of eyes are better than just one.
Just craigslist and the buy/sell/trade groups on facebook. I have found some great bargains for my sisters room on there.
As a librarian, and the daughter of a school librarian, I have to ask, “do you need to have your own classroom library?” I know that some school districts are getting rid of school librarians and closing school libraries, so, maybe your answer is “yes.” But if there’s a library in your school, try to get know your librarian. Many librarians would love to know which books you need and will use their budgets to buy those materials. If they buy the books you need, then you don’t have to use your supply budget for a classroom library. Also, when I was growing up, my elementary school teachers never had classroom libraries, but we did have weekly trips to the library.
Hi – lots of good suggestions from other teachers!
A couple of thoughts:
-Is this a totally new position/classroom or are you taking over for a previous teacher? I ask because lots of times a previous teacher (especially if retiring) will leave things behind or offer to give a new teacher items they will no longer need.
-If this is a totally new position/classroom, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your principal if you could have additional monies this year. When my team mate was hired, her room had zero bulletin boards. She was given a 0ne-time ability to purchase those types of things that she needed as she was setting up a new classroom.
-Ask around at your school or talk to the secretary and janitor. At my school every spring and fall we put things in our teacher’s lounge that we don’t need/want anymore as freebies for other staff members. One teacher’s trash is another teacher’s treasure!
-Do you know the grade level(s) you will be working with? If you don’t know yet, I would hold off on many specific purchases. Things you would need for kindergarten are very different than what you would need for fifth grade.
-As an interventionist, will you be pulling small groups to your room or working mostly with other teachers in their classroooms? This will also change the types of items that you will need to have on hand.
This year will be my 18th year of teaching, and the previous comments covered most of the advice I would give. Pinterest, Freecycle, yard sales and thrift stores are my go-tos for classroom materials. Pinterest will also refer you to lots of lesson ideas and materials. One piece of advice I didn’t see was that you will need a school ID to sign up for all those great teacher deals at stores. If you don’t have a paystub or ID already, maybe get a copy of your letter of intent or just a letter from HR saying that you’ll be working for the district. Then use that ID to sign up for a teacher discount at any store you can. My favorite stores to use it at (besides my local coffee shop!) are a local used book store, Office Depot, Staples, museum gift shops, and anyone who will offer me free stuff. One more idea: offer to set up a book exchange at your school and stock it with books you got while out and about that you won’t use. You’ll be able to use some of the books coming in, too.
Linda Vetterli says
Congratulations on your new position! I’m sure you will be facing lots of challenges in the next few months and years. I’m not a teacher but I volunteer with our VBS and have found that Oriental Trading Co. (orientaltrading.com) has the best prices on markers, paints and all things crafty.
Blessings to you for your heart to teach and help our children.
I taught for over nine years as a special education teacher and now homeschool our children. Either way our money was tight. You can find great school supplies for inexpensive during the summer back-to-school sales as well as dollar stores. Make sure to look for coupons in the Sunday paper as well as at Target (they will have school supply coupons available during the summer months). It is also important to check out garage sales during the summer to stock up on books. If your community has a Facebook group where you can buy and sell things, that is another great source. Also check into see if you have a Scholastic Book Warehouse in or near where you live, you can buy books there for a whole lot less. Hope these little tips help.
Hit up those yard sales! I am always amazed at how many great things I could find for almost nothing when I was ‘saling.’ As a bonus, people often threw in a bunch of stuff for free when they found out I was buying things for my classroom. Many retired teachers have garage sales and sell their personal curriculum materials. Look for seasonal decorations, plastic bins for organizing, and books for your class library.
In my room, I use items that were headed for the trash can in a million different ways- they were free! I wrote a post recently about using free items (recycled items) to organize your classroom. Feel free to check it out- some of the ideas might be useful for you:
I’m a seasoned teacher.
Tell your new principal you would like any “castoffs” the staff is throwing out. This time of ear we purge and throw out stuff a new teacher would happy to make use of. If she can send out a campus email, let her know you are willing to come up and help move it.
Also ask the principal I anyone is retiring. My first year I scored gobs from two teachers who were leaving and didn’t want to drag ther stuff with them.
One who knows :) says
Make friends with the Bookkeeper or person in charge of supplies. Sometimes they have items stowed away for emergencies. They can help you with misc items until you build your class. It will be hard the first year but keep pushing forward.
Congrats! You earned it!
Katie Weir says
Being an 1st grade teacher… I totally get it!
Here are some tips:
If you are helping with math, for manipulatives, use dry beans, toothpicks, coins, pom-poms. These are things you can get at the dollar store and work just as we’ll as the fancy ones from Lakeshore.
– ask friends/family if they clean out bookshelves to donate or pay a small fee
– ask the teachers already at the school for old things
Creat things on the computer/circuit and print at school
Ask teachers for donations of surplus things.
Congrats on the new job! I just finished my 10th year as a teacher. I remember I spent an entire month’s salary my first year. Now I realize I didn’t need to do that.
There have been many great suggestions. Here’s a few more:
1-Look online and not just in the stores. I’m moving to a new grade level next year and will need to supply my own shelving. I looked online for Walmart to get an idea of what options were available. There were more options online and they were cheaper than what was in the store. You might be able to find a cheap rug there. Carpet squares can be great but I found them to be a big hassle. You may want to wait and see on some of the bigger purchases.
2-If you need individual dry erase boards, go to Lowes (or another hardware store). I bought a sheet of tile board, like what would be used for a bathroom (can be found near the pegboard). It costs about $20. They will cut it into 1×1 squares for you and you have cheap dry erase boards. I have had mine for 10 years and they are still in great condition. You can cut up pieces of felt for erasers (use a dark color so you don’t see the ink) or use old socks.
3-Hit the yard sales and thrift stores! I had the amazing luck of going to a yard sale where the lady had run a daycare out of her home and was getting rid of her stuff. I made a huge pile and asked her the price for the lot. She gave me a great deal. Also, mention that you are a teacher. Many people are sympathetic to our plight. I got a lamp and an industrial strength 3 hole punch for free because I said they’d would be used in my classroom. I have also been in thrift stores and could tell that a teacher had cleaned out her stuff and donated it.
4-Dollar Tree is great! You can now buy many of the things that can be found in teacher supply stores and save a ton of money. But beware of how many things you pick up. It’s easy to spend $50-100 in there!
I second the ask your friends and family advice. It seems nearly everyone has baskets, shelves or some empty craft drawers that they’d love to pass along to you. Also, Don’t be afraid to ask at a local carpet remnant shop for a nice size rug. Many people would be happy to donate a good quality piece of carpet to a friendly new teacher. Best wishes! It’s the best job out there.
I have been a classroom teacher for fifteen years. Our school also allows us $200 per year. However, we do not get access to the money until late September. This is too late to take advantage of back to school sales. Another commenter said “keep it simple” and I could not agree more, especially your first year. Next year you will have a better idea of what you need. Here are some tips I use to keep down costs for me.
1) ASK. Other teachers in your school may have items ranging from bookshelves and filing cabinets to pencils and crayons. Ask a fellow teacher and don’t forget the custodians. They often know where the excess is kept.
2) Stock up at back to school savings in the fall. Think Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart.
3) Dollar Tree is great for classroom decorations.
4) Look for freebies. I once got a dozen pencils with my banks logo just because I told the cashier how much I liked their pencils.
5) USED. Ask students to bring in books/videos from home they no longer want. Many parents get tired of schools asking for money or new supplies but many are willing to donate items they no longer want or need.
At your open house in August, a letter in a packet sent home to all students, not just your students, asking for SPECIFIC things to fill your classroom (or you might end up with junk). This all depends on what ages you will be teaching. Many parents are happy to “clean house”. I would have been very willing to donate books, Fisher Price toys, Legos, etc. to our school if I knew that it was needed and my kids had outgrown those things. You might also be surprised at some handymen who would be willing to make you shelves for storage.
I have friends that are educators and go through the same thing. Every year when school is out they have a yardsale and use the profits to help off set supply costs. I definitely agree about the dollar stores a lot of their school supplies are cheap and many do have name brands. Unless you are going to teach at a year-round school I’d try if you can and wait until July for back to school sales. The library and Goodwill are great for new and/or gently used classroom books.
Also, depending on your school district I think that classroom supply lists are helpful.I just hope your school district isn’t picky about supplies. In my district for example, some educators at some of the districts here are cruel. For example, if some of the supplies weren’t name-brand they sent the entire supply list back home with the child leaving some parents in tears and demanding they stick to the name brands or they won’t use them. I understand name brands can be better quality especially like crayons but when most parents have more than 2 kids in school it can be hard to stick to the name brand stuff.
Lastly, don’t forget to use coupons if you clip them. They can help save a bit too depending on where you shop
Betsy Madison says
Find out the names of retiring teachers in your new school/district. They do not want to keep many of the things you will need. You might offer to trade work for materials–help them clean out the classrooms they are leaving in exchange for materials/supplies you need. When I moved from elementary to middle school, I gave my classroom library to a first year elementary teacher from our church. When I left middle school to become a literacy consultant, I left all of my materials and supplies for the teacher taking over my classroom.
Another idea–how about throwing a “shower” for yourself? Invite your girlfriends over for dinner and a fun evening. Give them a list of inexpensive supplies you need. Most moms would gladly buy a $3 crate to help you out and have the fun of eating a meal they didn’t have to prepare–with friends.
Make sure everyone you know knows of your needs. The super-specials at Staples and Office Depot usually have limits of one or two per person. If you can get a several friends to snag these deals for you each week, you will end up with a lot of inexpensive supplies.
Congratulations on obtaining a position as an Interventionist. You will make a huge difference in the lives of struggling students!! Bless You!
I am a school nurse and this is the perfect time to “stock” your classroom. Look on your local school’s website. There is probably a list of teachers retiring. Years of valuable supplies, totes, rugs, chairs and books are going to be handed down to those who need them. I am already seeing piles of free items in the teachers lounge. I am sure you can get the big things there and then purchase the disposables – pencils, paper, etc with your allotment. Plus teachers would love to see their items put to good use instead of just thrown away or sent to the goodwill. Call those school secretaries! Email those teachers! Good Luck!
To the new teacher from an old teacher: Almost every store has a $1.00 shopping tote for sale, and some are sturdier than others so shop around. Before buying, ask for tote donations. All they can say is no and often they say yes. Dollar Stores and Dollar Trees often have classroom essentials for a $1.00. It will take some thought, but you can stretch your money.
Sometimes you can get a local company t0 sponsor your classroom and provide supplies. Don’t be afraid to ask, because people like to help.
For rugs try a local place that sells carpet. Or e-mail Home Depot or Lowes headquarters.
Tell them you are a non-profit/school. One of them might donate if they know it’s a school.
Often companies put aside so much money each year to donate things to schools or non-profits.
If you are looking for little rugs, places have those as carpet samples and are looking to give those away.
Don’t feel guilty about asking… someone else will!
Make sure to send a thank you note after. Or have the kids write cute thank you cards to the company if you get a donation.
I also agree on putting a list together for parents to get- like Kleenex for the class, snacks to share, etc. Kids should be bringing their own pencils, crayons, glue, etc for themselves. The most you should have is a little extra. I’ve worked in affluent neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods and parents are glad to help. If you ask for parents to bring things, put on the letter if you can’t provide Kleenex or snack due to finances just let you know.
I work for a Church and we ask for donations all the time. I know of schools who do the same.
I have been a teacher for 20+ years and I get a lot of my supplies at Estate Sales and Rummage Sales. Estate Sales is where I buy my paper, pencils, markers, scissors, staplers, etc. I can find these supplies lumped in boxes for only a few dollars. Most people that shop at estate sales are not after these items.
Save LOADS of money on your carpet and shop the rummage sales for area rugs. I have also been lucky enough to find retiring teachers who have garage sales. I buy borders and posters at these.
One last suggestion… if you put a note (maybe tied to a piece of candy) in each teacher’s mailbox at school I am SURE that some will have posters, borders and supplies that they can spare.
Congratulations on your new position! There is no better job that is more rewarding (other than motherhood). I love my profession just as much as I did on my first day. Good luck to you!
kim t. says
ask for donations – costco has some nice area rugs and storage bins – check the office supply stores, too.
Freecycle and craigslist are your friends! Try to find as much as you can for free. Also, I never had a carpet when I taught because they were too expensive. I used carpet squares. I got them donated to me ( I just asked a local carpet store and they had tons that they just gave to me) and that is what I used for circle time. Very easy to move when you have to change classrooms too! Good luck!
I haven’t read all the comments so I’m not sure if this was mentioned. We were military and found a situation where I needed to homeschool two children with two babies home also. It wasn’t our plan, so I had nothing. I spend the summer going to yard sales and scouring craigslist. I also did the staples easy rebates and got all of my printer paper free for the last three years. We went through tons of paper too being that I was doing preschool too!! I also used Swagbucks to purchase things on amazon that I needed to complete some of my curriculum or special things I wanted. I had luckily spent the summer before scouring yard sales for scholastic books for each season and holiday. Not to mention some full collections (boxcar children and babysitter club–and ALL the Eric Carle Books!!) I have an amazing library now!! We had the best homeschool and I really did it sooooo cheap!! I did spend A LOT of time looking, but it really paid off! Think of different ways to search for items (manipulatives, homeschool, teacher, etc.) Good luck!!
I helped an art teacher friend of mine set up a Kindergarten class from scratch last year. I went to garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets etc finding things for her. I even got her blocks, ride on toys and dolls. It takes time but there are so many great places to shop. Also, if you go to a yard sale and tell the seller that you are a teacher they will often either give things to you or lower their prices. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Some stores will do the same as well as businesses. I got her pencils and markers with advertising on them to use until the school found some for her. Books abound at 25 and 50 cents. Good luck to you.
Anyone can order from Scholastic Book Orders (scholastic.com). You can sign up on their website and get books sent to your home or school address. You will need to have a few books for your students to read but not all on the first day of school. Pace yourself through out the year and buy seasonally. You can sign up to send book orders home with your students and, weather or not they order, you can! You even get free books with your purchase.
And don’t forget that your school has a library(I hope)! You , as a teacher, should be able to check out 20 or 30 a week to let your kids use.
Also, visit your local public library and let them know what kinds of books you are looking for. Our library has a perpetual book sale and kids books are always a quarter! Get to know whomever is in charge of discharging books and she can call you when they clean out their children’s section.
As far as other supplies go, I agree with the other teachers – WAIT! You can get scissors, glue, pencils, folders, crayons, etc for pennies in July & August. Also, your students will probably bring a lot of that stuff with them on the first day. Save your money for hand sanitizer, Kleenex, and Airborne – especially if you teach little ones 🙂
I would check to see if you have a Freecycle yahoo group for your area. You join through yahoo groups online and it is an all free group, you make offers of things you no longer need and ask for things you do. They usually prefer you to offer something up first, then you can post a request for what you need.
First of all- Congratulations!!
Like others have said, stalk the school supply sales in July and August. If there’s something that’s a really good deal, talk to a manager to see if they’ll let you buy more than the advertised limit. I try to get anything I need for 25 cents or less! As an interventionist, you won’t have a class of kids pooling their supplies for you. I teach a special area class, and whenever I run low on pencils/notebook paper/kleenex/etc., I’ll ask a different classroom teacher if they have some they can share. Most of the time, they’re happy to help.
Last summer I was able to find a really nice carpet for my classroom in the end-of-season outdoor rug clearance at Lowe’s. It’s an indoor/outdoor rug, so it isn’t as cushy, but it looks nice and held up really well!
Don’t feel that you have to buy everything from the expensive teacher stores or office supply places. Dollar stores have TONS of storage options and some are starting to carry education supplies. I find a lot of good stuff in hardware and automotive sections (totes, buckets, magnets, rags for erasing, etc.) for far cheaper than other aisles. As far as posters and decorations, look for things on Teachers Pay Teachers, Teacher’s Notebook, or just on Pinterest. You can find a TON of great stuff that’s specific to what you need and then only buy what you need. Some things are free or you can try to figure out how to make your own version.
I faced the same situation last year when I started teaching 3rd grade. First off, remember you don’t need everything right away. Second, look for retiring teachers who are trying to sell things. By posting my needs on Facebook, several retiring teachers gave me great deals on books and classroom games. Third, try making or downloading free activities for your classroom from places like Teachers Pay Teachers (www.teacherspayteachers.com).
Hope that helps!
Swagbucks is an easy way to accumulate points to cash in for gift cards and even cash through Pay Pal. You can easily get $5 Amazon credit each month – that’s $60 in free money to use for your classroom each year. Check the Money Saving Mom posts on how to do it. Of course, the more you do on Swagbucks, the more you can earn for your classroom – the possibilities are almost limitless!
I am now in my third year of teaching but had the same problem when I was hired as a Support Teacher my first year. I used this website: http://www.booksalefinder.com to find used book sales in my state and after visiting a few, I had stocked my classroom library for about $50 (with high-quality, good condition books)! I also used a PTO stipend to purchase my classroom rug and asked classroom teachers (whose students I worked with) to borrow supplies to get started. Since I wasn’t a classroom teacher, I didn’t send out a supply list. A few more unique (to my area) ideas are Staples ink recycling rewards and a new teacher giveaway that our district hosts. We have a community donor who collects ink cartridges for teachers and I usually get enough to recycle and received $40 a month to spend on my classroom. I signed my husband up as well to get double the rewards (use your school address for yourself).
I hope some of these ideas help!
Sorry I didn’t read all of the comments, so don’t know if any of this has been suggested.
Many stores have great back to school sales where they sell things for a penny. At least one office supply store (Office Depot) will waive the purchase limits for teachers (and homeshoolers too) if you join their program.
Many PTAs around me give teachers funds to help with their classrooms, often with very few restrictions, in addition to any funds provided directly by the school. Ask your PTA president if there are teacher grants or funds available. Around here it tends to be a flat amount for each teacher.
Donorschoose.org is an AMAZING site! I am a teacher in a poverty stricken school and have not had to pay money out of my pocket in the last several years for supplies due to this site. It is easy to do and it allows the public to see your need and help. Many of the people that help my classroom have said they appreciate knowing what a teacher needs and being to help when they can. Every little bit helps and can add up quickly.
Check out garage sales that target teachers and/or kids. Often sales with specific items like teaching supplies are advertised as such.
Check out teacherspayteachers.com for ideas/games/lessons that you can print and use. There are NUMEROUS free items and many that are very inexpensive. I have used many of these items, especially when I want a fun game or activity for my students but I don’t have money to spend to purchase one and/or the supplies.
For storage collect cardboard boxes in the sizes you desire. You can buy colorful packing tape or duct tape and wrap around them to make them fun. Plus, they are sturdy and inexpensive (you just have to purchase the tape and a little goes a long way).
If you have an IKEA store near you they often have inexpensive items in their storage/kids areas that can be used in a classroom setting.
The dollar store, thrift stores, and other teachers will be your friends when it comes to your first year. Veteran teachers are usually happy to get rid of items they no longer need/use–especially right before the beginning of the school year when everyone is cleaning out their rooms. Also ask the custodians for things you need–they often know where extra supplies/furniture is that often you can use/customize to meet your needs.
Best of luck!
Ask around your district. I know that many teachers retire or move away and they have TONS of stuff they want to get rid of. Start with your principal or district representative and see if they have any ideas. Also, Dollar Tree has a nice selection of classroom basics, especially in the summer months. Stuff for bulletin boards, etc. Also try freecycle, post what you need up there. You never know what you might find!
Mandy W. says
Here is Arizona (in the Valley), there is a wonderful resource called Treasures for Teachers. They are a non-profit, and a lot of their stuff is donated. For an annual fee, teacher (must have proper credentials) can shop there buying greatly discounted items. They also have a “fill a bag” section where you can fill up a tote bag for $5 per bag, and a free section that usually has a lot of posters and miscellaneous stuff. My best friend is a teacher, and has belonged to it for a few years, and she says it is money very well spent.
Even if you aren’t in AZ, I would check and see if there is a similar resource in your area. Also, you would be amazed at what you can find at Goodwill, especially as school is just letting out. A lot of retiring teachers send their stuff to Goodwill.
I’m a music teacher, so I’m in a similar position where I don’t have one set of kids to bring their own supplies…
1) ask around your building! I’ve received lots of pocket charts and other resources that teachers did not need this way. Let the secretary AND custodian know if you are looking for something (shelves, cabinets, etc). They are the two most knowledgable people in the building. Other people will also know ways to locate free resources.
2) check if your public library has a bookstore. Mine has library-quality hardcovers for $1-2 each. Or just use the books in your school and public library.
3) make friends with a retiring teacher. Teachers accumulate a ton!
4) garage sales in the summer
5) lots of websites like tumble books have free e books if you have a projector or iPad
I generally do not purchase anything with my money (maybe $10 at garage sales a year?) for my classroom. I can do without.
My cousin is a teacher. At the end of the school year, she collects all the discarded pencils, paper, etc. that the kids just throw away. I know this won’t work for this year, but keep it in mind for the future. Many office and book stores give teacher discounts. Go to thrift stores and check for books and supplies. Think about rug alternatives. Some stores sell their out of date samples. Not sure about the price, but our preschool used one for each kid instead of a big rug.
I get tons of books from Savers (a local thrift store). I bunches and bunches of books for my kids and generally pay $0.69-$0.99 each for them before buy 4 get a 5th book free is added on and then I always go on 25% off day (Tues. where I live). That really helps to lower the price. I have seen rugs and well tons of stuff there as well. I’m guessing Goodwill or other large thrift stores would be similar.
I get pens, pencils, glue and crayons at the end of the summer at office supply stores and walmart. They always have $0.25 a pack.
As much as I enjoy our local teacher’s supply store, I generally don’t shop there. It’s really expensive.
As a teacher, I want to agree with many of the comments already made.
-Do not buy usable supplies like pencils until back to school sales in August. Tell the store you are a teacher and places like Office Max allow you to double the “free” or “limits” on items.
-Michael’s always gives a discount. You need to show an ID or insurance card or paycheck stub.
-The dollar stores have borders and die cut letters, etc.
-Clearance fabric makes great backgrounds for bulletin boards (fades less as well).
-Ask parents to send in supplies through out the year. Make books and games on your classroom wish list.
-rummage sales and thrift stores often have very cheap books. Once I bought a few from a series in paperback and was not going to get the hard covers and when I mentioned it my friend, the people running the sale gave me a great deal on the entire set as it was being used in a classroom.
-ask your ISD or media center if they have die cut machines or printers to make cut outs
-retiring teachers often just leave stuff in rooms. Ask your administrator if you can look their classrooms
-Don’t be afraid to ask, borrow or steal. Only steal ideas though 🙂
Advertise on Craigslist to see if any retiring teacher can gift you some things that you need. Otherwise, I would suggest thrift stores, free cycle, and yard sales to fill your room. Tell everyone you know (through word of mouth, Facebook, etc.) and see what comes out of the wood work….you never know what people are holding on to.
Like others have said, I got a lot of my classroom stuff from yard sales. It was my Saturday morning ritual – I drove around and looked for stuff on my wishlist. A lot of time when I told the people it was for a classroom they knocked a few bucks off or even gave me things for free. I got my rugs, throw pillows, stools, & lamps that way. I also asked around at the school I was going to teach at to see if any of the teachers who were leaving had items they wouldn’t need anymore. One teacher gave me 2 boxes of books for my classroom, which took care of my initial classroom library. In fact, I would make a call to a few schools in your area to see if any teachers who are leaving have things they want to get rid of. When I left my teaching full time, I would have happily gave things away to a new teacher. I also know that some school systems do a retiring teacher “yard sale” – where teachers can go and sell their old stuff to new teachers for a few bucks. That’s a great way to get posters & teaching books at a big discount. Scholastic books is also a godsend. Make sure you do the book orders with your kids every month so you earn credit to stock your classroom library. And check on ebay/craigslist/freecycle as well. Good luck!
Do you have a ReStore near you? I’ve found helpful things there including carpet, carpet samples, etc. They would also have cheap paint, chairs, cabinets, and few other things you might find helpful.
Otherwise, I’d keep things VERY simple and go to Walmart, the Dollar Store, etc. I would also stay off of pinterest for the most part and wait to do most of the shopping when I see how things will really work. I always buy too much trying to set up the ideal, and then realize that I could have saved so much money if I had just seen the real, if that makes sense.
I’ve seen that site recommended, and have had a lot of fun with local book sales. I’m not a teacher, but have had enough books to find them hard to carry, and spent $10. Bring a friend and sturdy bags.
Congrats on the new job! Being a teacher is honestly the most rewarding job on the planet! I have been a teacher for 7 years of big high school babes and I know how daunting that first year can be.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is not to get overwhelmed your first year. Don’t think you need to have a classroom completely stocked on day 1! It will come as you frequent garage sales, dollar stores and ask for donations from friends/family/parents. Those kids will thrive on love and attention from you – not an awesome rug!
Also – I have painted murals in my classroom to save money on posters or other things. Check and see what your school’s policy is on that. Good luck!
Congrats to you! You sound so enthusiastic and like you want to make a wonderful environment for the kids – you are already a step ahead.
I agree I wouldn’t get too crazy the first year…I would suggest that you also not be too nervous to take parents up whenever they offer. I always ask my children’s teachers at the start of the year about any ongoing needs they have. Some don’t really give me an answer – I think because they don’t want to ask much more of parents than we already do, but I am a frugal shopper and LOVE to share my deals with teachers. So if you really need tissues – say so, lots of parents keep this in mind.
Also, as far as the rug goes – I am not sure if you need it, but you can always check a local Habitat for Humanity Store or a Local Rug Store. They often have large remnant pieces and they can bind the edges for you. I know it isn’t as exciting as having one with the alphabet on it, but it will work.
Ask everyone you know – just like one other commenter said people are always getting rid of stuff and you can maybe use it. Be sure to check your local library where they have book sales and if they are getting rid of books, they will often let you have “first look” and you can get a lot for a little.
Habitat Store is a great suggestion! I see cute rugs in there all the time.
While I’m not a teacher, I’m a huge fan of those who are and I really commend you for taking this on!
As a bunch of other people have already said, the back to school specials for supplies are always wonderful. You can get things for pennies or even free. Staples, office max, and office depot all have great sales around August. Target also not only has great sales but also has coupons that often match up with those sales. I got about 10 packages of free pens and pencils, as well as scotch tape, glue sticks, and colored pencils all for free at the end of last summer and into the early part of the school year.
Websites like donorschoose.org and kickstarter.com are awesome ways to create a fundraising platform.
Seasoned or retiring teachers may be willing to give you supplies/storage containers/large items that they no longer need. You can re-purpose various sized cardboard boxes/shoe boxes/old storage containers by covering them in decorative paper. Another option for collecting supplies might be to get in touch with a local recreation department or police department. I work for a Parks and Recreation office and we often have residents that come in and ask where they can donate various items. We’ve received TONS of art supplies for our camps, a huge number of books that we are donating to a local charity, etc. My camp kids all brought in gently used books to donate for a service project, and I’m sure that other organizations would be willing to do the same! They may even allow you to put out a collection box in their lobby for supplies that you can specify a need for. Our local library also runs book sales, and yours may too.
There is always the route of asking parents for donations such as hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, etc. at the beginning of the year. Or try writing directly to the companies! It may not always pay off, but you may be surprised. Just for expressing my like for certain companies, I’ve received lots of free product coupons or high value coupons. They may be willing to donate coupons or free items to you for your classroom.
I hope all of this helps! Good luck
I think the best suggestion that I can give you that hasnt already been brought up is check out Pinterest!!! There are a TON of ideas on there from other teachers and a lot of them are really creative and they do it for cheap! Maybe it will help give you some ideas and point you in the right direction!
I worked as a teacher for many years and sad to say, no matter what you are going to have to bite the bullet and pay for most everything out of your own pocket.
There are ways to save though. I found most of my classroom library books at yard sales, used book sales at the library, through points earned via Scholastic book clubs, and from other teachers. Classroom supplies can be found for extremely low prices at the Back-t0-School sales, many stores limit quantity, so you’ll need to enlist the help of friends to help you stock enough for the classroom.
For larger items such as furniture, rugs, and organization bins you may be surprised at what is available at the school. Unless you have been assigned to a brand new school your classroom will most likely be stocked with materials and supplies from the previous teacher. Make acquaintances with the staff at your school now, ask to visit your classroom, and see what is available to you and make a list of what you need from there. At my school the teachers would be at school organizing and planning a week before the students arrived. We had a table where we put things we did not need and larger items such as furniture and extra desks were left outside the classrooms, everyone knew if it was outside it was available to take.
Once school starts you’ll want to either buy used from yard sales or thrift stores or ask for donations from your student’s families. At back to school night I would write what I needed for the classroom on post-it notes and asked parents if they could look at the needs and see if they had anything at home that could fulfill the needs, in your speech say, “There is a range of items that can be helpful, from a roll of paper towels, to an area rug for reading time.” Parents can then see the items needed and take the post-its of the items that they can provide to the classroom.
Don’t stress about items not matching now, or having everything new, focus on function. You’ll probably be teaching for a while and over time you’ll find it in your budget to find things that are not only functional but matching too!
If the school you will be teaching at has a PTA or PTO you might check with them. The PTA I am involved in sets aside money for teachers just starting off. We also encourage requests from teachers who need help purchasing specific items. For example, maybe you could approach them about helping with the carpet purchase?
Best of luck and congrats on your new job!
Alicia Sparks says
As you are looking through garage sales and Craig’s List, make sure any rugs or soft seating (beanbag chairs, etc) have their original fire-retardant tag (think the ones on pillows and mattresses) on them. In any public school, the fire marshal comes through about twice a year and checks for fire hazards. If he can’t find a fire-retardant tag on something, out it goes! If you really find something you love, but it doesn’t have the tags on it, take it to your head plant operator (head of janitorial/repair work for your school), and ask him if he has a fire-retardant spray he could put on it. There’s paperwork to fill out with dates of application, etc., you’d have to keep and produce for the fire marshal.
Make sure anything you buy is something you can keep! No use spending big bucks on a fun rug, organizing your classroom around it, and then finding out you can’t keep it. Bummer!
Congratulations! This year marks the end of my sixth year of teaching 8th grade English.
#1) Start budgeting money now for the school sales. We get $150 a year in my district and no matter how many sales I hit, it is never enough. My husband and I set aside $20 a month for me to spend on school items. This way there is money in my budget when the school sales start. I always ask parents for items like tissues, pencils, etc and you will get a few that will donate, but even in my middle class district I supply most of my classroom items.
#2) Watch the back to school sales. There are definite patterns and predictable sales each year. Get to know those prices so you always know what the lowest price you can get it. For example, Staples and Office Max always have penny pencils, notebook paper, erasers, and folders. They usually have a buy one get one sale on whiteboard markers also, so I always wait for those particular sales. If you tell Staples and Office Max you are a teacher they will let you have double the limit on sale items (usually six instead of three). My local super store usually puts Crayloa markers, crayons, and colored pencils on sale just before school starts for at least 1/2 off. I will only buy elsewhere if I see a price lower than that.
#3) Send out a school wide email asking if anyone knows where you can get X,Y,Z for the best price. People may surprise you and offer up extra items they have just sitting around.
#4) Don’t start investing in high quality organization/storage bins until you are sure of what you want and how you will use the space. Teach in your room for awhile, use the space and figure out how it works for you. I use a Writer’s Notebook program in my class and have gone through and spent money on three different types of bins trying to figure out what would work best. Now that I know that I like the magazine rack style of bins, I will start phasing out the cheap cardboard ones I have and replacing them with nicer plastic bins that will last.
#5) Get on pintrest and get creative. For example, starting saving cereal boxes, cut them into magazine style holding boxes, cover them with a cool sticky shelf liner and you have book boxes! That sticky shelf liner (Contact Paper) can dress up plastic containers from the recycle for holding crayons etc. You will always find a mom or two to help do stuff like this. Every year I have at least one mom who is far more creative than I am who helps do bulletin boards etc.
#6) Ask about fire codes first before decorating and hanging items. In my district, we are not allowed to have rugs and only 20% of our wall space can be covered. You’ll want to know all that before you buy things and spend time setting it all up.
Good Luck and remember you are the most important factor in the classroom.
Christina H. says
I should have mentioned that we also budget that much so that I have money to do special things like get my reading intervention students a reward or get the kids candy on Halloween. Those can be extra expenses that need to be planned for in advance. 150 8th graders require a lot of Halloween candy. 🙂
Okay, I don’t know why the iPad changed my user name but both the above comments are from the same person… weird computers… 🙂
Don’t try to do your whole classroom this year. It would be completely overwhelming! Here are some ideas for you…
-Ask if you can check out the classroom you will be working in. Unless this is a newly created position there should be at least some sort of classroom library in place. Check with your fellow teachers before you stock enough for the school year (I taught for six years and never bought pencils or chalk because the previous teacher who used my room had soo much saved up.) Sometimes there is a storage closet where extra stuff gets stashed; maybe you can have access to it to get started.
-Ask the school secretary to save empty copy paper boxes for you. They are great for storage because you can stack them right up against each other without any wasted space. If you prefer plastic totes you can switch them out slowly as you find them on sale.
-If you’re spending your own money, don’t order from the school supply catalog the school will give you. In July/August hit the back to school sales and stock up on crayons, glue sticks, notebooks, etc. for way, way less.
-Do you really need a classroom rug? Could you improvise with the foam puzzle pieces that fit together to make a mat? Or a bunch of inexpensive throw rugs that the kids put away when not in use? Depending on your school you might be able to get permission to paint a “rug” on the floor using patio paint. This is one that I might wait on, just to see how necessary it will be to the job.
-Check with the local libraries to see if they have any serviceable books they would be willing to donate. Our library has limited space and sometimes purges books that don’t have anything wrong with them in order to make room for newer books. This could jump start your classroom library.
Best wishes in your new position. The first year of teaching is hard, hard work!
Kristen @ Joyfullythriving says
I forgot about paper boxes! I use these all the time because they stack so nicely, and are great storage places. My school secretary is happy to save these boxes, too.
I used to teach middle school, and for the first few years I did spend my own money for the extras. We were given no money at all to stock our rooms. We did have access to basic office supplies, though, like tape, staples, pens, textbooks and a copy machine with paper. Taught social studies and had no maps!
Save receipts – there used to be some tax benefits for teachers spending there own money. Probably still is.
But after a few years, I got fed up, and just made do with what the school/taxpayers were willing to provided. It was almost easier in a way. But I realized that elementary teachers need more stuff. Go to school now before it’s out and see if there are any teachers retiring who are looking to unload stuff!
Cristy U says
Look for teachers in your district who are retiring or moving far away. They don’t want to have to pack up all those things they’ve collected over the years. Plus, you can get great ideas and advice from seeing their systems of organization. Also, in the way of school supplies, Staples has a good teacher rewards program. They run one cent specials (with a limit, of course) and great back-to-school specials with 20-25 limits for teachers. Also, check craigslist and children’s consignment sales for great big ticket items such as furniture (shelves, tables, rugs, etc) as well as books, toys, and games.
Yard sales! If you don’t have the energy/time to go to lots of yard sales, enlist the help of some women that you know . . . in my experience, middle-aged women whose own kids are out of the home are particularly good yard salers . . . give them a list of the types of things you are looking for and by the end of the summer you will have a TON of stuff.
I taught 4th grade for 8 years and several other grades leading up to it.
#1 Ask about retiring teachers who may be getting rid of their stuff. I acquired a bunch of books that way.
#2 A classroom rug is not necessary (some schools don’t allow them because they can’t be cleaned properly). Younger kids can sit on carpet squares and older kids rarely sit on the rug anyway. Carpet squares can come from carpet stores, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Ask for the ones they are throwing away.
#3 Many of the daily supplies (pencils, paper, crayons, etc) may be provided by your school or by the parents as school supplies.
#4 For the Classroom Library … start going to yard/garage sales NOW. They are the cheapest ways to acquire books. Used book stores may be a good option as well.
$5 School Supplies, including totes will go on sale beginning the weekend after July 4.
#6 Think out of the box for decorations. Scrap fabric bought on clearance or from yard sales can work as bulletin boards backgrounds.
#7 Also check places like Craigslist, Half.com, FreeCycle, and Ebay. You may be surprised at how far $200 can go.
Find out if your district does a sale or donation event for teachers who are retiring.
Let your new colleagues know what you’re after; there is almost always someone moving classrooms or grade levels with extras to give away.
Garage sales are great for books. So are Scholastic warehouse sales, Friends of the Library used book sales, and thrift stores.
The dollar store is excellent for basic supplies and storage.
Back to school sales are good for items like crayons and notebooks.
Teacherspayteachers is wonderful for curriculum, and Pinterest has rafts of clever ideas.
**Don’t buy too much before the beginning of the year. I’m not sure whether your job is academic or behaviorally related, but it sounds like a unique one, and you may find that what you need isn’t what you think-e.g. It may turn out you really need file folders and an egg timer, but not an independent reading library! If your children have attention issues, a classroom that looks bright and cheery to you, may be too distracting for them.
Remember that what you Really need are plans and procedures-free but priceless!
Do talk to your principal about what is provided to you, and what parents are expected to send in. There may be more than you know. Most schools provide items like paper, pencils, or crayons, or ask parents to send them.
Finally, on an editorial note-try not to spend too much. I personally spent a fair amount this year on curriculum for a new position, but I’m in my 11th year, so I probably make a bit more than you do. Seriously, though-don’t go over board! You shouldn’t have to supplement your school on a first year teacher’s salary. Off soap box now….
Congratulations on your new job! I’m sure it will be the start of a wonderful adventure. Despite r the challenges, it’s still a privilege to get to work with children.
Love this and completely agree. Developing the procedures and having a good handle on the curriculum is soooo important. I spent way too much in the beginning (it is my 11th year now, too). I am going to stay home next year with our baby and even though I anticipate returning to teaching, I will leave a bunch of stuff for the new teacher because I don’t want to store it. 🙂
When I started teaching, I was in the same position as you. I needed everything and didn’t want my classroom to look barren.
Here’s what I’d d0: Wait on the rug. That’s a BIG purchase and not necessary. If you want to have time on the floor, you can get cheaper area rugs at places like Big Lots or Target. Kids are not going to care if the rug has a map of the USA on it or the alphabet.
For books, hit thrift stores and garage sales. New books are expensive and you can get WAY more bang for your buck buying used. Ask friends or relatives who have older kids if they have any children’s books they would like to donate to the cause.
For school supplies, wait until the August school sales to get crayons, pencils, etc for cheap.
Ask at a carpet store for sample squares. They may be able to give you any discontinued samples. When it is story time or circle time, etc. the kids could grab a carpet square. I have seen these at our small grade school where my children attended.
What a wonderful idea!
You can also attach them together with duct tape on the back and design your own rug. Or if you are handy with needle and thread, sew them together at the binding using an upholstery needle and heavy duty thread.
Congrats on the job as I know it is tough out there in the education world! I am still searching for a job myself. For now, I am saving food containers (such as yogurt, soup cans, etc.) for storage. Acetone can take off any writing if that bothers you (like it does me haha). I keep an eye out for cheap paint samples to liven things up. I visit the thrift stores for cheap books and learning tools. I am sure there you could also find rugs but you may have a bigger audience on Craigslist. Make sure you check out places that offer discounts for teachers. Be creative!
If school is still in session, where you are teaching, contact the teachers. I’ve heard some teachers will just toss extra supplies at the end of the year. Also, look for teacher centered garage sales on craigslist, I’ve bbeen to a few and perhaps you can stock your class room that way. Targets dollar spot has had more teacher supplies towards the beginning of the school year as well. Know of any school closings by you or perhaps university or college end of the year barn sales? You also could find what you need there.
I’m the parent of a kindergartener and here’s how I helped my daughter’s classroom:
1. I asked the teacher what she needed. Since I’m decluttering, I have been able to give her everything from art & crafts to Ziplock bags, dry erase markers, storage/organizers, books and more. Don’t be afraid to make a wish list of items you could use and distribute the list to parents at the beginning of the school year. Include small items as well as big. Each dollar you don’t have to spend on markers or paper clips means a dollar you can dedicate to something else.
2. Is there a PTO? Our school has a VERY active one. The PTO funds mini-grants to teachers each year who need funds for a special project, field trip and the like. For example, my daughter’s class was studying Ghana this spring. The teacher got a mini grant for supplies to make “drums” so the kids could play Ghanian music.
3. Ask among teachers who are retiring from your district. Maybe they will sell really cheap or even give you what they no longer need.
You should contact your school’s PTA president. Many PTAs provide supplies for teachers when asked or when made aware of a need. Our PTA provides money in our budget each year for mini-grants to teachers who apply. We have purchased rugs, book boxes, etc. for our teachers this past school year.
I’m a teacher, but not an elementary teacher, but here are some ideas I thought of:
– buy several smaller rugs instead of one really large one; you can find smaller ones online from $20-30 ( I just bought a 4×6 for $32)
– while you are starting out, stick to just a solid color carpet instead of the ‘classroom’ rugs which cost more
– check with a carpet supplier for scraps that they will give you or sell at discount
– check local thrift stores for books; I visit our local Goodwill, etc every six months and always find tons of cheap books for my boys
– check local libraries or book stores for used book sales
– make as much as you can yourself (things for bulletin boards) etc.
– buy supplies in bulk as much as possible
– check Oriental Trading Company or Walmart for supplies (or other wholesale places)
– be creative with storage until you are able to afford matching bins for everything. Check second hand stores for options.
Hope some of this helps – good luck!
What a great list!
Hannah J says
Staples always has good deals on supplies in the fall.
The Dollar Store would be a good idea for classroom decorations, and organizing supplies.
Garage sales and secondhand stores are great for books and toys.
You can probably find a decent rug at walmart or target.
I hope my advice helps!
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I’m not sure where you are located, but here in VA there is a store, for teachers only, called From Crayons to Computers where local businesses and schools donate all sorts of classroom items for teachers to get for free.
They have that here in Cincinnati too. It’s worth checking into.
Jenny in UT says
I have collected many items from donations through freecycle and craigslist. I also ask parents for donations. It seems easier and quicker to get items if you have a specific list.
Most stores will have fabulous school/office supply items at incredible deals late July/early August. OfficeMax and Staples have a great teacher reward program.
I also collect empty printer ink cartridges and cash them in. I ask friends, students, fellow teachers, local office to donate their used cartridges and I get quite a few each year. This past year, I saved over $200 this way.
Ok I have alot of great ways to save money on supplies:
1) Craigslist and yard sales for totes, containers, rugs, toys, etc.
2) Dollar tree actually does have some great supplies for teachers like die cuts etc.
3) Supplies like crayons, markers, rulers, etc should be bought right before school when every weekend there is a sale at office depot, officemax, and staples. I bought glue bottles for .01 each there. Rulers for like .10. Markers from .25 to .75. Watch the sales but utilize them. And as a teacher you can get more supplies by using your teaching card and signing up at them for additional savings.
4) Also depending on where you live … there are local places that help teachers. For example we have a Family Central close by which have materials for teachers to check out for lesson plans as well as large die cut machines which you can use to make borders or cut outs for themes for free just bring your paper. Many local organizations try to help in various ways… call around.
5) And call your local stores like walmart and target… explain and ask if they would be willing to donate supplies… can’t hurt to ask and you might be suprised they need tax right offs.
Remember your just starting and if you can’t fill your room this year no worries over time you will.Hope this helps…
I am a teacher as well. I try to keep things simple in the classroom and remember that a simple, organized classroom is often better for most students (especially those with ADHD and sensory issues) than an over-decorated, expensive one. If you decide to use a rug or two, I’ve found good deals at WalMart. I also sent out a mass e-mail to all of my friends nearby asking if anyone had bookshelves, crates, rugs, storage bins, etc. that they weren’t using. I had friends who donated a bookshelf, rug, plants, and more to help me out. Yard sales are great for getting used books for a classroom library. Also check out library book sales. Our local library does an educator’s day–teachers can get up to $50 of free books. Good luck in your first year!
Amen to this! I have an Asperger’s child and we found that he did better in a classroom that was almost stark! It’s so tempting to decorate with all the cute stuff out there, but remember it can be very overwhelming to people with processing issues.
Yes! Simple really is often best. Even children without identified processing issues can have difficulty subconsciously filtering every bit of stimuli to prioritize which item(s) should get their attention at any given moment.
Kristen @ Joyfullythriving says
Great ideas! And I agree. A cute classroom can be done simply. Clutter overwhelms me (the teacher) so I know it’s worse for the children. I teach early childhood and try to keep things bright and cheerful, but never cluttered or over stimulating.
Heather R. says
Congrats on the new job Melissa!! As a teacher I can sympathize how costly stocking a classroom can be (especially the first year)!! It is hard to wait right now, but things like pencils, crayons, markers, etc. are at the absolute lowest right before school (even cheaper than what you can get them for at the “school rate” when ordered with school money. Things like totes and storage bins are a good thing to get at Dollar Tree. If you can, ask at some of the local schools to see if there are teachers that are retiring – they are getting rid of MANY supplies – you can get tons of stuff from them. Yard sales are FANTASTIC for books!!! You can also sometimes find some great storage containers and bin type things, music for kids, instrument things and much more there for a huge savings – just be willing to think outside the box :).
All that being said – prioritize. What do you HAVE to have to teach the kids and make your classroom run? Plan your activities, see what you need for them and get or budget for those items first. I am in my 5th year and getting rid of some things I felt I needed right away but NEVER ended up using.
Finally, if your school allows, ask parents for some things. Tissues, hand sanitizer, clorox wipes, etc. While not necessary, those things are to help keep their kids healthy!
Good luck to you!
Prioritizing was going to my suggestion. You only have so much money to spend. I personally don’t think teachers should be expected to spend their own money for things that are consumable for the children. Parents and our taxes should cover that. Just my opinion.
Many parents simply cannot afford to donate many items. Where I teach, I have some parents who.help out with stuff like that and some who just cannot. I end up supplying a lot, pencils, notebooks, tissues, sanitizer, etc.
I think that what you and Melissa are doing is great and I applaud you. My point was really that she shouldn’t feel an obligation to meet the needs of the classroom beyond what the school budget is. I think it puts undue stress on the teacher and her family.
As the wife of a teacher in his tenth year, I can tell you quite certainly that while teachers SHOULDN’T have to supply their classrooms from their own pocket, they do. We spend about $1000 a year, sometimes more, on supplies for my husband’s classroom. This is not unusual–according to a recent study, teachers average spending almost $400 of their own money on classroom supplies http://thejournal.com/articles/2010/07/08/teachers-spend-1.3-billion-out-of-pocket-on-classroom-materials.aspx). Federal education laws say that states must provide FAPE (a free and public education), and here in WV that is interpreted to mean that school can NOT ask parents to supply ANYTHING for their child’s education. Nothing–no crayons, tissues, paper. Now, I probably spend $50-$100 per year on things like crayons, scissors, construction paper, and glue for my three sons to use at home–how can a teacher, most on salaries around $30,000, possibly provide the supplies their classrooms need within the $200-$300 budget most schools provide?
The best advice I can give that hasn’t already been given (though I can’t stress yard sales, thrift stores, and retiring teachers enough!) is to talk to your principal and fellow teachers. Your fellow teachers will remember exactly what it’s like to be in your position and most will help you out in any way they can–perhaps one started teaching younger kids, is not teaching older kids, and still has all those materials that s/he can hand down to you? Your principal is going to be a good resource not only for supplies, but money–s/he has a bit of a discretionary budget, and since it’s your first year s/he might be willing to increase your budget slightly or cover certain large items (such as a circle time rug) from a different fund. Good luck to you!!! Teaching is a noble profession of utmost importance to our society, but it’s certainly not an easy job, and it’s made even harder by the lack of respect and appropriate pay.
The Prudent Homemaker says
I would look at garage sales, thrift stores, and used bookstores for books. You may also be able to find some books at the public library sales as well. Those places can yield you books from .25 to $1 each, often in like-new condition.
I would shop back to school sales in July for school supplies.
I second the idea of looking on Craig’s list for a rug. I don’t know how big you’re needing, but even Home Depot and Walmart have 8 x 10 rugs for close to $100.
I got an alphabet rug, not quite big enough for a large classroom, at Target for $25. It’s worth a look!
Or talk to a carpet store about a remnant of carpet. It could be oddly shaped, but would likely be free if you explained to them that it was for your classroom. With good scissors, carpeting is easy to cut to fit whatever area you need. We currently have an area rug that is a remnant. I finished the edge using a hot-glue gun (on the “woven” part underneath, so you can’t even see the glue). That area gets a lot of use, and the rug has yet to fray/ravel!
I work with a non-profit and we got a bunch of carpet squares donated for kids to use at an outdoor classroom. We just called several local carpet companies and explained who we were and why we wanted them. The carpet squares are samples they use in the showroom and are usually big enough for a kid to sit on, so this might be an option instead of one big rug. We also got a bigger remnant section of carpet donated to us.
Country Fun says
Definitely find a rug remnant to use. You can finish the edges with duck tape, many different types of glue combined with a strip of folded over fabric, folded fabric also works with staples. The best is if you have a rug cleaning and repair company in your area. They will bind the rug to the size and shape you want. I just did a 10 x 12 for under $150 – a better grade remnant and binding.
For organization ideas especially using recycled materials hit Pinterest – tons there.
Books – local library for ones they are removing from the shelves, thrift stores, friends, yard sales.
One way I help teachers in my area is through donorschoose.org. It’s giving based, so many teachers will post needs that are high ticket items. I’ve donated several times and I was first introduced through my work. We are given gift cards to donate for Christmas. Every project I’ve given to has been fully funded by several donors, so I know it works. I’m not a teacher – so I don’t have that inside scoop, but as community member that does not have a child currently in school I am able to contribute to local teachers’ needs.
Sorry for the repeat. I thought my first post didn’t take.
1) Garage Sales: Books, Carpet for your room, containers, games, even school supplies! You can get SO much from garage sales.
2) Back to School Sales: In late July and August, the office supply stores offer school items at a deep discount. There are limits but if you live close enough, you can go a few times during the week to get the cheap items they are offering.
3) Parents: Not sure what kind of community you will be teaching in but you can ask for donations in your newsletter. Let them know what you need and hope that need will be supplied!
4) Craigslist/Freecycle/Facebook Selling Sites: Keep an eye on these for things that you could use in your classroom!
5) Ask: Let your friends and family know what you’re looking for and see if they have any sitting around unused that they would be willing to donate!
Maria del Moral says
My daughter is a first year teacher and found herself in a very similar situation last year. The dollar stores and clearance isles are Michael’s and other stores were quite helpful with supplies and decorations. Garage sales, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are good resources for books and containers as well.
Hope this helps a little.
I am not a teacher, but I am a frugal spender and I am opening a creative reuse center which will serve teachers, artists and crafters. So look for a creative reuse store near you. In addition, think of alternatives for the things you need then see if there are manufacturers or companies around that you can ask for donations of in-kind items Ii.e. paper , printed one side, use the other, save you a ton). You can also comb through Craigslist or Freecycle. Post wanted ads in both. There are lots of teachers who retire who would also be willing to donate or sell at a greatly reduced price. Good luck with your new adventure!
I am a homeschool teacher, but I find that Staples has amazing deals in July in which you can buy many things for one cent. They will give you Staples Rewards to use later as well. Also, the coupons for school supplies are wonderful during the summer too! I find that all the best deals on supplies are in July! If you wait until August you are in the boat w/ all the last minute shoppers and the deals are just not as good. As for rugs.. try craigslist!! For books I would look at goodwill and look for a paperback trade type store in your area 🙂
I love Staples.. They have the best deals around.. One thing to remember too is that teachers are not limited by the quantity limits that the rest of us are during the Back to School sales..
Unfortunately, it depends on your Staples. Last year they began limiting even the teachers. You had to have multiple people with you or go in multiple trips. 🙁
I am not a teacher, but I use DonorsChoose.org to patron local teachers in need. It’s not an immediate, but for big ticket items, people can go on and contribute to your needs. For my work, we are given gift certificates for Christmas to the website to donate to any school or program we want. I’ve also contributed on my own. Every project I’ve supported has been completed through several donors, so I know it works.
I don’t have the insider classroom know-how, but this is how I support teachers in my community since my child is still too young for the classroom.
i’m not a teacher, but i LOVE this suggestion. i have lots of friends who are teachers and i would be happy to crowd fund for their bigger purchases! like angi below mentioned, it’s not up to teachers to spend their own money for things that are consumable for the children.
Rebekah Schultz says
I teach and have gotten book sets, a rug, leap pad sets, play kitchen food, and manipulatives. We are a very impoverished, inner city school and this program has been a lifesaver!!!
I have two children in an elementary charter school. Before the beginning of every school year, the school/teachers provide a list of “necessities” that parents should provide for their kids. Examples would include paper, notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, crayons, folders, etc. These would be just for our own kids. They also ask for things like sandwich size bags, Kleenex, paper towels, etc. that the classroom would need throughout the year. It’s not that expensive for parents to provide these things if you shop at the back to school sales. I also keep a stockpile of these things in case they are needed throughout the year. Could your school or you possibly provide such a list for the parents? Will you be using Scholastic book orders in your room? These are a great way for you to stock your library (little by little). I believe that with every on-line order from a parent, you as a teacher would receive a free book for your room. Good luck!