There’s a meme somewhere on the internet that says something like ‘teaching: the one job where you steal supplies from home to bring into work’. If you are a teacher I’m sure you will get the joke! The truth is, although a lot of essentials will be paid for by the school you work in, if you want to add anything extra or make your classroom look anything like all the incredible ones you’ve seen on Pinterest, it’s going to cost you something. The problem is none of us have unlimited reserves to spend on all the things we know could make our teaching and learning environments better!
So what’s the answer? Not bother at all? Or commit to doing the best we can with the finances we have available to us? If you’re reading this post then I assume, like me, you’ve committed to the latter. Good choice! I’ve become super geeky and over-excited about finding ways to save money as a teacher whilst still doing an awesome job in the classroom. I recently found out I’m getting a new classroom so I went on a shopping spree to pick up some new things. However, I set myself a bit of a challenge: an overall budget of £12 and a maximum spend of £1 (about $1.50) on each individual item. Here are the items I bought and how I plan to use them!
1. Hair Rollers
Almost every time I go to a pound store I pick up a pack of these! I have shared about this on Instagram before and I absolutely love them. I wouldn’t have a clue how to use them on my hair but they make really good fiddle toys for children who find it hard to concentrate in class! You can also use them to practise fine motor skills and model shapes. My kids love them and the best thing about them is that they usually come in packs of 8 so they work out at only about £0.12 each.
2. Plant pots & washing peg containers
Okay, I have no idea how this works but from my experience if you want good-quality storage that
looks great in your classroom, your best bet is to think outside the box (no pun intended, ha!). For some reason, containers that are designed to store stationery and other classroom or office items are often more expensive, so I usually scour discount stores for alternatives. Plant pots are a great stationery storage solution – they look really cute and are sturdy too. I found some really cute, brightly-coloured bucket-style ones that will go perfectly with all the neons and brights in my classroom this year. I also like to use peg containers and ice buckets which you can easily find for cheap, especially in summer.
3. Pet toys
I know this sounds crazy but hear me out on
this one! I’m not suggesting that if you teach little ones you replace the real toys with pet ones, but there’s usually a good range of them in pound stores and they can be really useful and fun additions to the classroom. I like to play a lot of games in class with my kids but lots of them involve using a ball. The problem is that if I use an actual ball some classes just can’t seem to stop themselves from chucking it at each other as hard as they can or generally throwing it when they shouldn’t! Whatever I do use with them needs to be soft but still throwable. I recently found this sandwich-shaped dog soft toy that is going to work a treat with my more boisterous classes – it’s safe, fun, silly and of course cheap! It will also be great to throw to individual kids when I want them to contribute in class as an alternative to accepting ‘hands-up’.
4. Dusters & microfibre cloths
I’ve seen this teaching hack floating about on Pinterest for a while but never tried it myself until recently. Let me tell you that they really are amazing! They work brilliantly as whiteboard erasers, are easily washable and have a bigger surface area which means that you can clear bigger boards more quickly. The one I picked up has a handle so my hands won’t get dirty when I use it and – more importantly, since I’m only 5’2 – it will extend my reach a bit when cleaning the top of the board!
5. Shower caddy
As soon as I saw this I got excited because it is going to make a great board marker & eraser holder to hang up by my board. Last year I lost so many markers and spent so much time in lessons looking for them because I had nowhere specific to put them. I always ended up finding them all dried up and lidless down the side of my desk or behind the cupboard. This one cost me just £0.99 and, once I get into the habit of always putting my board pens and rubbers back into it when I am finished with them, it will save me a lot of trouble and waste this year!
6. Beach ball
Okay, so I know I already mentioned that some of the kids I teach get pretty boisterous when you introduce a ball into the classroom, but I couldn’t resist this bargain! I got the idea for this online a while back, but I was unsure about using one myself because I can imagine a fair few of my students will try and pop it the first chance they get! However, when I saw beach balls for only £1 the other day I decided it was worth a try. I’ll trial this activity with some of the more sensible classes first: all you do is write questions, numbers, letters, shapes etc. on it in permanent marker. Students answer the question or complete the activity that corresponds to the part of the ball their hands have landed on. I’ve written numbers on mine so I can put corresponding questions on the board and change them each time. I’ll let you know how it goes! You can see another example here.
7. Rubbish bin/Trash can
You can often find these at discount stores for really cheap and they often come in a range of colours. Of course you can use them for storage but I am going to use mine for its intended purpose. I already have a bin at the front of my room but it wasn’t until I read this post that the most obvious thing in the world occurred to me – having multiple bins in the classroom means your kids don’t need to go to the front of the classroom to throw things away. It can be irritating when a student disrupts the flow of learning because they need to put something in the bin and end up talking to all their friends on the way. Why not avoid the situation in the first place by insisting that the back half or the whole class use the bin at the back of the room? I am going to put the ugly bin that the school provided at the back and keep my pretty new one at the front by my desk.
8. Cable ties
These are so handy to have in your classroom because they’re really strong and reliable but you can also easily remove them with scissors whenever you need to. One of my favourite uses for them is to tie table or chair legs together. When you have tables in groups or rows they always seem to get pushed out of place between the start and end of the school day, but securing them to each other keeps them pretty much where you want them. This will be saving me a lot of time at the end of the day this year! You can also use them to attach stationery holders to walls, crates to each other to form a storage unit with multiple shelves, book caddies to desks and so on.
Thanks for reading. If you try any of these ideas or have any great budget classroom ideas yourself, let us all know by leaving a comment below! You can also connect with me on Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter, or by sending me a message via the Contact Me page. If you like what you read please subscribe by clicking on the link on the home page or by following it on Bloglovin!
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