Greetings, fellow teachers! My name is Allie, and I teach kindergarten in Las Vegas. I'll be here all school-year long to bring you my best tips for cutting your out-of-pocket expenses. After all, you need your paycheck so that you can live, not so that you can work!
Starting off with the basics, here are my top five favorite places (and people) I know I can turn to when I'm looking for great deals on classroom supplies and materials. And if you have a favorite bargain spot to shop, please feel free to share!
The section for clearance items near the front of the store is popular with teachers who can find numerous items for the classroom — flash cards, books, workbooks, puzzles, certificates, pocket charts, posters, organizers, and more — for a dollar or less. You'll be amazed at the variety.
4. 99¢ stores
You can find pretty much everything you really need for your classroom at your local 99¢ (or dollar) store. Many of these place have online stores as well. They have sections for supplies, organizers, toys, snacks, cleaning products, paper goods, party materials, and anything else you can think of. This is my go-to store for necessities.
Created by a teacher in need of funding, DonorsChoose is a website specifically for K-12 teachers in public schools (including public charter schools) to request donations. Anyone in the United States can contribute as little as one dollar to your project, and donations are tax-deductible. I've had six out of seven of my own projects funded.
Most parents are eager to contribute to their child's classroom, and are only waiting for you to send out the call. Make your requests by letter, in an email or text message, on a bulletin board, or in person. Parents can be classroom aides, guest speakers, tutors, chaperones, party planners, coaches — pretty much anything. You can also request donations of all kinds: books, toys, supplies, snacks. All you have to do is ask!
1. Other teachers
Almost every time I need something, another teacher has it. Your network of colleagues extends beyond your own school to teachers' garage sales, local teacher exchanges, and the virtual arena of district-wide email. Whether you intend to beg, borrow, or buy, other teachers are your single greatest resource.
Teachers in the blogosphere are always letting others know about their latest finds, and I'm no exception, so don't forget me as a resource. Tune in for more great ideas every other Thursday. I'll keep you posted with thrifty ways to organize and decorate your classroom, surprising uses for everyday items, alternatives to pricey materials, and more — free of charge!