How to Score Free Stuff For Your Classroom

March 3, 2014

Buying school supplies for one child can ring up quickly. Buying school supplies to keep 30+ students engaged and interested in the learning process can be downright expensive. There are plenty of ways to cut costs in the classroom, but, if you know where to look, you can everything from books to lesson plans for free.

Here are a few ways you can score learning materials that won’t deplete your bank account.

Find Free Online Downloads and Resources

Short on ideas as well as money? There is a treasure trove of free lesson plans and resources if you know where to look. Here are a few places to check out.

  • Pinterest
    If you aren’t on Pinterest already, now is the time to start. You can find entire boards of free teaching resources (like this one or this one). And, for a hodge-podge of teaching tips and tricks, make sure you follow us.
    This educator marketplace gives teachers a platform to share their lesson plans – many for a profit, but several are also available for free.
  • Local, or not-so-local, museum websites
    Often times museums have free teaching resources or downloads that coincide with current exhibits. Even if a field trip is out of the question, these websites can bring the experience to your classroom. (Check out resources from the The Denver Art Museum or The Smithsonian.)
    This website appears to have a little bit of everything from audiobook downloads to worksheets to movies. Sign up for their daily email to get alerts about new downloads and resources.

Use Freecycle and Craigslist

You might feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack with this tip, but plenty of teachers swear by using Craigslist and Freecycle to score everything from classroom furniture to books and movies.

You’ll have to peruse lots of listings, but check out the “free” section under “for sale” on Craigslist and join your local freecycle group.

Go Digital for Books

Did you know that you could score plenty of free books if you have a kindle? You won’t be able to hand every kid a copy, but it could be just what you need for group read-alouds or individual activities. Here are a few places to look.

Check Out Donor Organizations

If you are looking for something in particular but don’t have the money on hand, there are a few websites that allow you to request the items you need and a donor will buy them for you.

The requirements for each site are different, but some require posting a particular project and providing updates to the donors so they can see their dollars at work in the classroom. Others require some legwork on your part – spreading the word that you are on the site and looking for donations. Either way, the payoff could be substantial.

Here are a few to look at:

Ask For Items Slated for the Trash

This might take a little bit of research and planning, but often times large stores or companies are willing to fork over free stuff for a good cause – ex. teaching today’s youth.

One teacher from this post on offers these great tips:

“Do not be afraid to ask for donations everywhere. Ask stores that sell school supplies if you can have the things they will throw away. For example: the slanted cardboard boxes that hold folders are great for files. The cable company has boxes with dividers that hold about 12 cable boxes. I had two of them, lined the outside with contact paper, and I still use them for papers after 15 years. At casinos, they have to throw away dice and cards after one use. They usually punch holes in them or cut a corner off. Tell them you are a teacher and ask if they will donate some for math lessons.”

Have you been able to score free items for your classroom? Share your tips and we’ll compile them for a future post!