The beginning of school year means more than just excited, nervous new kids, and clean classrooms. Those classrooms need to be stocked up and this often falls on the shoulders of the teachers. As we all know, the funds are very limited and the pockets are not very deep, so let’s look for some ways to save together. These tips will be good for seasoned teachers and those that are just starting out just the same.
So what are some saving strategies we all should be aware of?
What is the best store for affordable supplies in bulk?
Dollar stores are teachers’ best friends. They have supplies for everything there – math, reading, celebrations, science, and arts. Dollar sections at Target, Walmart, and Michael’s can also be treasure troves.
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What about DIY projects?
Those are not only cheap, but fun too. Don’t buy posters, signs, and alphabet letters. Instead get cheap supplies at dollar stores and get your students involved in making them. Making things will bring students closer together and test their skills of focus, working together, taking lead or following directions. Working together like that at the beginning of the year can be a major ice breaking experience for kids too.
Is there a nice way to ask parents for help?
Yes, and Amazon can really be useful here. Every teacher should create a class wish list and add all the needed supplies there to have them all in one place and to easily share with students, parents, friends, and possible donors.
Can some items be reused from the previous year?
They not only can be reused, but should be mandatory. In our wasteful society we all should do our part in recycling and reusing before we hurry to throw away things. Needless to say, this will save money too, so clean the classroom in spring and don’t hurry to toss everything out.
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Can some useful stuff be found in garage sales?
Absolutely! Summer is the prime time for garage and trunk sales, and all teachers can definitely benefit from them. Common items are baskets, books, crafts, and shells. You might even meet a retiring teacher who is ready to let go of many useful things for very little.
Do you know NAEIR?
If you are a teacher and haven’t heard of them, it’s about time. This company gets extra overstock material from big companies like Crayola, 3M, Office Depot, and similar, and passes it along to educators with great discounts.
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Where can teachers get used books and should they?
Yes, books are always needed for classrooms, and new ones can be very pricey. There are a few ways to score used books in your community – library sales, garage sales, church, and community exchanges.
Can social media be of any use for restocking the classroom?
Social media is a great platform not only for displaying cute pictures, but for addressing serious issues too. And school supplies are a serious issue. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and followers for donations of extra things or stuff they don’t need. Try to be as specific about your needs as you can.
Where in the neighborhood can you ask for help?
Any neighborhood group can be your holy grail. Try posting on Nextdoor, local listings, and your church and ask for supplies and donations. People like to step up for the sake of kids.
Do local businesses get involved?
Yes, sometimes they do. Try to be very specific when you approach a business or a store. You can ask for toys and board games at a toy store or for sporting goods and game accessories at your local sporting goods store. More often than not you will get a positive answer.
Should teachers use Donors Choose?
It will not hurt to put your ideas and projects up there. You can campaign for many issues, such as flexible seating in your classroom, robotics area, LEGO station, and countless others. Some crazy ideas have been chosen and financed before, and yours can be next.
What benefits can we get from retiring teachers?
The positive outcomes of those connections are endless, and not only in material form. First of all, you will get valuable advice and experience sharing. Some teachers might be retiring, others changing grades. In both of those cases there are supplies that are not needed by them anymore, but can do wonders for you.
Should you immerse in back-to-school sales?
Yes and no. There are good deals to be had, but there is also a good deal of hype. Some sales are spectacular and can get you set for the entire year for a fraction of the price, but be vigilant and don’t fall for overinflated and then fake reduced prices. Also keep in mind that September sees even more sales sometimes, so try waiting a little longer if you can.
Can recycling bins be of use?
Totally, your own and others’! Look for egg cartons for sorting, bottle caps for math, plastic containers for storage, and paper goods for crafts. All of that is completely free and good for the environment.
Should you join books clubs and why?
Scholastic Book Clubs are a great way to order books and then get extra free ones for points, so definitely join them before the school year even starts.
Should you talk to store managers in person to get deals?
Our experience shows that human contact will never hurt. You might find some great deals that have rules and limitations implemented, for example there is a 3 per person limit on cheap notebooks. If you will talk to the manager of the store and tell him or her that you are shopping for the entire class, they will be able to wave those limitations and will gladly do it.
How can you use Half Price Books?
This organization donates books to classrooms and schools, so make a request and see what happens.
What can you find on Facebook, Craigslist, and eBay?
All those companies offer a good platform to make a plea for supplies or find people who want to get rid of something. This can be a retiring teacher that will sell you supplies for a symbolic price or a group of local teachers sharing not only ideas, but supplies too.
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist have free sections, where you can request stuff or look for useful things yourself.
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Should you consider trading?
Most definitely so! There is even a bartering section on Craigslist, so find local groups and do some beneficial exchanging. You never know what you can find and offer.
Are there local grants available?
PTAs often have grants for supplies and offer them to teachers. Sometimes parents offer help even without asking, other times it doesn’t hurt to inquire. Some local businesses also offer financial assistance.