According to the August 22-29, 2007 poll taken on Teacher Magazine, more than 65% of the 155 educators voluntarily polled said they spent $250 or more on classroom supplies in a year. I remember the first time in my life while in college I realized teachers had to spend their own money for supplies for their students. And that they would spend a lot of it. I was dumbfounded, angered and thought this must be an anomaly and surely they must get tax breaks like my small-business owning parents.
And then, two years after my initial discovery, I became a teacher and traded my chronic shoe-buying habit for an equally pricey storybook-worksheet-flashcard-buying habit. I also realized during that time that the generous tax break was $200 a year. I was lucky that my school was part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and had a warehouse of basic classroom supplies available. The $800 I spent my first year could have and should have been far more like many other educators. Like everyone else, I wanted and needed specific books for my students-- not the sun-bleached, dog-eared paperbacks that were published before even I was born that revolved around the titillating adventures of Joe and his dog, Buff.
Anyway, the point is, teaching is costly and it doesn't pay too much. And when your weekends are spent catching up on grading, cooking dinner for the whole week and finally getting some sleep, you probably don't have too much time to troll for freebies online. So here is a quick start of a list of freebies out there-- If you have a way to get discounts or free supplies that wasn't listed below, please add them as a comment!
A list of links to free DVDs, science posters, and lots more. Definitely check this out.
Free Clorox Multimedia Kit AND a free canister of those handy disinfecting wipes!
Barnes and Noble's 20% discount for books in the classroom increases to 25% for a week four times a year. It's not available online, so use at the store. Borders and other major bookstores also have discounts. Make sure you bring your teacher ID or pay stub when you apply for the discount card.
Free pair of Drillmasters' marching band shoes for directors of marching bands.
Starfall was one of my favorite free phonics sites as a new teacher. It's interactive, has low-level, non-fiction stories, and a number of useful activities.
And because our lives can't revolve only around the classroom, here are more ways to get free stuff in your personal life, such as free 411 information access, free books and free samples.
Also check out TLN's Teaching Secrets... all the secrets divulged are delicious, but scroll halfway down to read tips on "scavenger hunting" for your classroom! Thanks John!
For quick tips and cheap ideas on fostering organization skills in middle schoolers, read TLN's latest piece.