Teaching on a Budget

Teaching on a Budget

It’s hard to be an effective teacher without the proper resources.  Many school districts run on tight budgets and asking administration for money is not always an option.  So how can you provide your students with what they need and avoid breaking your own bank? Read on to learn some of the ways I’ve made it work for me!

Save on Classroom Materials

When you’re looking to make a purchase for your classroom, explore your options!  The Dollar Store and Target Dollar Spot are great places to find cheap items for your classroom.  I usually hit up these spots if I’m looking for holiday pencils, class prizes, or classroom storage.  I also stock up on items that I know I need when they are on sale. Two winters ago I bought mini snowman erasers to give out to my students before Christmas vacation.  They were $1 for a packet of 100 so I decide to buy a bunch. I’ve had enough to last me these past two years and they still bring a smile to my students faces when I hand them out as little Christmas gifts.  I haven’t had to make any purchases since that trip to Target two years ago. Like all of us, my budget is tight around the holidays so this has really saved me.

Another place I shop quite frequently is Amazon.  I use Amazon all the time because of the convenience.  I don’t need to physically go somewhere to shop.  I can do it from my computer or my phone, and since I have Amazon Prime, the item comes within two days.  I’ve recently discovered that for certain items Amazon will give you the option to buy used. The used items are given a rating and sometimes a few comments on their condition.  I bought my laser pointer presenter used from Amazon and saved $16. It arrived in its original packaging with the instruction manual and everything. If I didn’t know I bought it used, I wouldn’t be able to tell.  Click here to read about why I think using a laser pointer in class can relieve stress.

Create a Wish List to display in your classroom on Back to School Night or during Open House.  The phrase “many hands make little work” applies here. Imagine if every parent in your class helped to purchase an item for your classroom.  Wouldn’t that be amazing? I’ve created a pinterest board of cute and creative ways to ask parents to help out without being pushy or demanding.  Parents pick an item from the board and physically take home the piece of paper so they don’t forget what they’ve agreed to purchase.  If you have the time and resources, make a short video of students in your class asking their parents to help out. Show this video as a way to introduce your Wish List display.  It’s much harder for parents to say no to their own child! 🙂

How to Fund Big Ticket Items without Spending a Dime

There are many ways teachers can get funding for projects in their classroom.  Most school districts have a PTO or equivalent organization that provides yearly grants for teachers.  These grants can range from small amounts ($50) to very large amounts ($1000+). The trouble is, they aren’t always publicized well.  At my school, there is an organization that will provide grants to teachers for “intensive study”. At first, I had no idea what this meant. It wasn’t until I spoke with a colleague that I found out “intensive study” could include anything from attending a weekend conference to traveling abroad to study the culture of another country.  When I found this out, I decided to take a chance and apply for the grant. I was thrilled to find out my proposal had been accepted and the organization was going to to help fund a summer trip to Peru to work with teenage moms who had been abandoned by their families. It was an incredible experience and one that I would not have been able to afford on my own.  A lot of my colleagues were surprised to hear my trip was going to be partially funded by this organization because many of them (who have worked at the school longer than me) didn’t even know the grant program existed. So do you research and ask around! There are opportunities out there looking for you to take advantage of them.

If you are looking to get funding for supplies in your classroom that are outside of your budget, consider creating a Donors Choose project.  Donors Choose helps teachers create requests for necessary classroom materials.  With the click of a button, families can donate however much they want to help fund your request.  Once the request is funded, Donors Choose sends the materials to your school! Last year, I was able to fundraise enough to purchase 4 iPad minis with cases to use with my classes.  Since it was my first project on the site, Donors Choose agreed to match every donation I received within the first two weeks. That meant if I received enough donations, I only needed to raise half of the cost!  I let parents know about this opportunity and had my project funded before the two weeks were up! It was amazing to see how eager parents were to help create this opportunity for their children. Other teachers in my school have used Donors Choose to receive Chromebooks and other items for their classroom with just as much success.


Do you know other ways teachers can save big?  Comments your ideas below!


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