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8 Tips on how to get free teaching materials. Are school supplies enough? Teachers have an enormous responsibility.

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How to get free teaching materials

Students excel in a well-managed learning environment. Unfortunately, most teachers do not have enough resources to execute their work. Free teaching materials enable teachers to supplement available resources and provide quality education to their students.

In this tough economy, securing enough funds for classroom supplies is increasingly becoming a challenge to many teachers. Most public school teachers easily spend $500-$1,000 from their own pockets for class supplies. And as school budgets continue to shrink, this figure can easily escalate. Fortunately, rather than reaching deeper into their pockets, teachers can take advantage of free teaching materials to facilitate their work. All you need to do is know where to look for these materials.

Teacher spending statistics

A survey by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates that most states do not provide adequate support per student for elementary and secondary education. And with so many budget cuts going on, most public schools have been greatly affected. This has resulted in teachers taking on the brunt of the weight in finding ways to provide their learners with necessities.

The survey found that teachers spent an average of $487 of their own money on their students during the 2016-2017 school year.

It was also established that:
  • 77 per cent of teachers spend at least $200 or more of their money on their classrooms. This is up 6 per cent from 2015.
  • Individual teachers spent as much as $4,000 in 2017 to get their classrooms ready.
  • 81 per cent of teachers spend their own money on learning supplies more than any other service or product, including their professional development.

Another survey by the Michigan Education Association found that 73 per cent of teachers in rural Michigan spent more than $300 of their money on their classrooms in 2017. 41 per cent of teachers in this survey also spent more than $500 of their money on their classrooms.

The top 10 items purchased by teachers out-of-pocket according to this survey included the following:
  • Art supplies
  • Writing utensils
  • Glue
  • Highlighters
  • Folders/binders
  • Paper
  • Notebooks
  • Chalk and/or erase markers
  • Sticky notes
  • Books

According to the survey, most teachers and support staff also spend their money on non-deductible supplies for their students. Items like health and cleaning supplies, food and clothing, and materials to make classrooms conducive for learning are not covered by the tax deduction. However, teachers purchase them for their learners’ success.

The top 10 non-deductible supplies purchased by teachers in Michigan include:
  • Classroom furniture
  • Classroom decorations
  • Snacks
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Calendars
  • Tissues
  • Storage bins/shelves
  • Batteries
  • Hand soap and sanitizer
  • Posters

Teacher fundraiser ideas

Teacher fundraising does not have to be complicated or difficult. Best of all, most teacher fundraising ideas do not involve selling anything. Here are a few teaching ideas you might want to consider.

1. Sign up for Amazon Smile

Once you designate an Amazon Smile recipient, Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of all the eligible items you buy through the platform to a charitable organization of your choosing. Chances are you have parents who purchase items from Amazon, yet they have never designated an Amazon Smile recipient. Set up your school in the Amazon system so you can take advantage of this option.

Then inform the parents through newsletters and school events.

2. Classful

Classful is an online teacher funding platform that gives teachers an easy way to raise funds for the things they need the most. All you need to do is create a profile and invite parents and potential supporters to give donations.

Unlike other educational fundraising initiatives, teachers get to keep all the money they raise. You can share your profiles via social media to reach out to more donors. Once you have received donations, you can withdraw it immediately and get down to work providing the education that your learners deserve.

3. Monetize your website traffic

School Bell Partners provides a plug-in fundraiser that you can use to turn your school’s website into a fundraising platform. Just add this plugin to your school website and promote it to parents and the larger community.

Your school will earn every time a visitor clicks on the sponsorship link to participate in special offers. Choose the sponsors to be displayed and fundraising will happen pretty much by itself.

4. Collect box tops for education

If you are yet to start collecting box tops, then it is time to jump on board. This popular program encourages teachers to collect “box tops” for various items such as snack packages and cereal boxes, among other items. Most boxes are worth 10 cents each. You can then send them in to earn money for your class. You can get all your students collecting.

5. Auction off free experiences

Students love to have unique experiences with their teachers. And most parents will gladly pay for this. This is one of the easiest teacher fundraising strategies you should consider, especially when setting up a school event or dance contest.

You may run a silent auction and let parents place bids or sell raffle tickets for each of the items.

Some of the items you may present for auction include:
  • Have lunch with my teacher
  • Be the principle for the day
  • Be a co-librarian for a day
  • Get some special time with our gym teacher

6. Bake sales

This is a great teacher fundraiser for a good reason! Bake sales are fun, easy, and come with very minimal overhead costs. Plus, who doesn’t love munching sweet treats, especially when it is for a worthy cause like raising funds for teachers?

There is plenty of room for getting creative with a bake sale. For instance, you can try a seasonal or holiday-themed sale or an interactive sale where students get to create and sell their own delicious masterpieces.

7. Sell gift cards

How about signing up for online programs like Shop With Scrip or Scrip Pro where you can choose from different gift card vendors?

This fundraiser method is especially popular around holidays and you will earn a percentage (usually 3 to 15 per cent) from every gift card you sell.

8. Chocolate bar sales

Since raising money by selling candy or chocolate is pretty common during the school year, be sure to encourage your students to be as creative as they can with their sales pitches. Suggest designing a costume or finding a strategic location to sell from (with a teacher or parent to choose from). The idea is to find a new and fun angle to it.


30 U.S states provided less per-student funding for K-12 learners during the 2014-2015 school year. About 45 per cent of total education funding comes from the states. This means that already underpaid teachers have to figure out ways to raise funds to facilitate their work.