As the new school year approaches, any random trip to Wal-Mart or Target for laundry detergent and trash bags end up turning into a “this-would-fit-nicely-in-my-classroom” trip. It’s always good to buy some extra scissors, rulers, and of course things that disappear such as glue sticks, colored paper, colored pencils, sharpeners, etc. Some schools are better than others at supplying teachers, and some teachers have stronger preferences when it comes to brands. Therefore, it’s usually the case that if you’re a teacher, you’re buying utensils right about now.
Here are some ways that I’ve saved money when it comes to stocking my classroom.
1) There are some documents that I reuse every year for “paper labs” or “lab stations”. My first year teaching I bought 8×11.5 laminate sheets for these papers- which cost about $3 per sheet. What was I thinking? Now I buy 100 sheet protectors for about $14 bucks and they last me at least three years (depending on how ambitious you are).
2) Collateral, collateral, collateral. I’ve heard of teachers using collateral every time that a student needed to borrow a pencil, but I didn’t try it until a few years ago. It has saved me at least 50 pencils since then. Kids give you keys, cell phones, ear buds, their wallets, and you get your pencil back! Just make sure you keep them in a safe place and DO NOT LOSE them, even for a second!
3) Don’t buy name brands. It’s OK to go on the cheap for colored pencils, tape, rulers, scissors, etc. For example my Target brand mini scissors were .49 each and have lasted 5+ years with no sign of slowing down! A huge roll of cheap tape at Ocean State Job Lot (New England based company) is .50 and two of them will last you all year. One thing I do splurge on is my markers…
… I love grading papers with these! But anyways, this is about SAVING money… so moving on…
I should also mention that when I can I buy at local businesses. There are plenty of small stores that have GREAT sales this time of year and carry many innovative products you might not know exist- all tailored for a teacher’s needs. In my neck of the woods I’d recommend Lakeshore Learning in Stoneham, MA or Children’s Learning World in Westfield, MA.
4) Search Youtube first, then ask.
Before you go buying DVD’s to use for educational content, search youtube. Maybe I’m politically incorrect in recommending this, but every little bit counts. Especially older documentaries and movies. You may have to do a bit of digging, but many good ones can be found! If you still end up fruitless, then ask your department chair. There is usually $$$ left over in the budget for supplies and $15-$30 isn’t going to break the bank. Also, NETFLIX IS AMAZING! They have so much science content it is UNBELIEVABLE! Nova, Discover, National Geographic, Ted Talks, etc. They offer an instant streaming online plan for $7.99 a month, which you can use all year round and the price sure beats cable.
5) It Adds Up
Throughout the year I find myself doing labs that require trips to the grocery store. Liver, balloons, spinach leaves, coffee stirrers, cheesecloth, etc. You will find your fellow teachers in the same boat, and some of you are lucky enough to have a great consolidated department that do the same labs! Ask your department head if it is possible to open an account at the local grocery store so that you don’t have to pay for it. Every little bit helps!
Enjoy your upcoming school year!