Teachers are notorious collectors! We stockpile art supplies, stickers, directions for fun activities, workbooks, worksheets, books-anything we think we might use to make learning more interesting. Like everything else, the cost of all these materials has increased. With shrinking budgets and high prices, it has become a challenge to increase our stockpiles. But, there are ways to add to your classroom collection without overspending.
Keep your eyes and ears open for word of teachers who will be retiring soon. They are usually glad to find someone who can take things off their hands so they don’t have to figure out how to store them. Those who have taught for a number of years have quite a variety of bulletin board sets, worksheets, activity books and other great practical teaching materials.
Look for teaching supplies wherever you shop. Sometimes the prices are best in stores that are not specifically teacher-oriented. Often, Rite-Aid or Walgreen’s will have special sales on the stationery aisle or workbooks thrown into a bin in the center of the store. Some dollar stores carry computer paper, posters, stickers, and bulletin board packages. Some teachers unload their stash at Goodwill or Salvation Army. I stumbled onto a bargain shelf at Dirt Cheap where instructional activity books were marked 90 percent off!
Garage sales are also a great resource for finding new or like-new items. Many of the prizes in my classroom treasure box were found at yard sales-everything from talking Taco Bell dog toys (a bag of 25 new toys) to pocket games (for 25 cents each).
After each holiday, gift items are drastically reduced. That is the time to add to your collection of prizes or incentives. One year, right after Christmas, I bought small stuffed animals at Walgreen’s for 15 cents each and used them to stuff the stockings of the children the next year.
There are lots of ways to save money and still add to your classroom stockpile of fun extras!