Tips to Save Money on Classroom Supplies

With shrinking budgets and increasing expectations, now more than ever educators need to stretch their dollars while continuing to enhance the learning experience. Here are a few tips that can help.

1. Be creative. Post your classroom wish list of educational games, classroom learning tools, equipment, and books at sites that match donors with teachers including Adopt-A-Classroom.com, donorschoose.org, and supplyourschools.org. In the spirit of nothing’s better than free, check out freecycle.com for gently used audiovisual equipment, posters, rolling carts and more. You may need to pick up the items, so look local first.

2. Gain parental involvement – no pressure needed! Establish one-on-one relationships with parents. Early in the year as you discuss your educational philosophy and classroom plans with them, let them know what projects you’d like to undertake, what the students will learn, and what specific supplies are required. A surprising number will step up without your asking. Another subtle technique: Post a wish list of supplies on your bulletin board or chalkboard during parent-teacher conferences that parents can read while waiting for an appointment.
3. Choose quality over quantity. In some cases, like electronics, floor mats, storage cabinets, and shelving, quality makes a difference. You’ll spend more money upfront, but save in the long run because the items will last for years.

4. Start early. Prepare your classroom wish list and your students’ supply list at the end of the year and make both available to parents. This way everyone knows what’s needed, it allows expenses to be spread over time, and lets you shop sales.

5. Talk to your office supply store. Your office supply store manager is a valuable resource and can help you look for creative solutions to outfit your classroom and get the biggest bang for your buck. Some stores offer special teacher discounts or participate in donation programs. Let them know what you need and they will find a way to help.

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