Thursday, February 6, 2014

For Frugal Teachers Only

Lesson Lady and I have had the privilege of working at schools that have taught us to be resourceful.  Our budgets many years have been nonexistent.  For a variety of reasons, we frequently have students coming to us without the necessary materials.  So, we have learned to differentiate between what we want for our classrooms and what we need, and find creative ways to get things done.  Here are just a few tips....

1) If students do not have something to write with I give them a golf pencil.  It supplies them with what they need while encouraging them to bring their own writing utensils because they prefer regular sized pens and pencils to the hand cramping minis.

2) This is an obvious one, but recycle paper.  Whenever I have unused single sided paper I cut it in half and use it for scratch paper, notes, etc.  I never buy notepads anymore.

3) Need to cover an old bulletin board?  Use fabric that can be washed and re-used or paint it.  This will save you from covering it-- and recovering it again later-- with paper.

4) If you can digitalize it, do it!  Save on ink and paper.

5) Trying to make the room look a little more cozy?  Hit the thrift stores and garage scales.  Scavenge through college towns during move out week.  Pick up an old piece and make it new with a little paint.

6) Struggling to find storage space in the room?  Tack a piece of cloth to a book shelf to keep students out of the stuff you want tucked away out of sight.  It isn't secure, but the cloth with deter 99% of your students from accessing that space.

7) Have a student center where left behind supplies can be picked up and used by students who don't have something.  I call these supplies orphans who are looking to be adopted.  When students ask for supplies that is the first place I direct them.

8) Ask parents to donate supplies that you know you will go through.  For me, these include kleenex, hand sanitizer, printing paper, dry erase markers and band aids.  It is an easy way for parents to contribute if they are busy and struggle to find a way to help out, but would like to.

9) Donors Choose is a great website to help teachers fund projects.

10) Use sheet covers and crayons to create a cheap set of dry erase boards for doing group activities.

11) Take pictures and turn them into postcards for sending notes home.  You'll save on stationary and postage.

12) Use old containers as storage bins.  So much stuff comes in sturdy plastic these days that you really shouldn't have to buy small bins for organizing school supplies.

13) Check out thrift stores and library sales in order to build up your classroom library.

14) Subscribe to our blog and find lists of quality freebies every week.  We make sure to hit most major holidays, so this can definitely help you with some of your seasonally themed lesson planning.

15) Stock up on supplies when they are on sale.  If your school allows it, you can sell it to students who come unprepared and use the profit to keep your school store stocked.

16) Artsonia allows you to post students' artwork.  Parents can then go on and buy products with the kids' art work on it.  A percentage of the profit will come back to you to use in your classroom.

17) Instead of buying thumb drives and external hard drives to save work, store it in google docs for free.  That way you don't have to worry about it crashing.

18) Most medium to large sized cities have recycle centers where teachers can pick up recycled supplies for free.  Check to see if there is one in your area.

19) Pack your lunch instead of eating out.  Take a loaf of bread and turn it into sandwiches for a quick breakfast and/or lunch on the go.  This will prevent you from buying lunch when you're running too late to make something, not to mention save you time.

20) Embrace the uniform idea and save on buying school clothes.  When I was in high school I attended a school where the students didn't have to wear uniforms.  But, there was one teacher who had an outfit for every day of the week.  Once a year he rotated one outfit out and a new one in.  Students liked him, liked this odd quirk of his and always knew what day of the week it was.  He taught economics and I have to think the connection made his wardrobe a great object lesson in living frugally for his students.

Were any of these helpful?  Have ideas of your own?  Would like us to pass on more tips?  Leave a comment and let us know.


  1. Thank you for this list! I am a classroom teacher turned homeschool mom, and I found some ideas useful even in a homeschool setting. :)

    1. It's so nice to hear that you found these ideas useful for your home schooling! Thanks so much for letting us know.

  2. I am in school to become a teacher and I love learning as much as I can for my future classroom. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Glad to help! Good luck in your future teaching career!


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