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8 Tips on how to get free teaching materials. Are school supplies enough?

Teachers have an enormous responsibility. Free teaching materials enable teachers to supplement available resources and provide quality education to their students.

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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.

In this tough economy, securing enough funds for classroom supplies is increasingly becoming a challenge for many teachers. Most public school teachers easily spend $500-$1,000 from their 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 use free teaching materials to facilitate their work. All you need to do is know where to look for these materials.

Teacher spending statistics

A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities survey indicates that most states do not provide adequate support per student for elementary and secondary education. And with so many budget cuts, 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 percent of teachers spend at least $200 or more on their classrooms. This is up 6 percent from 2015.
  • Individual teachers spent as much as $4,000 in 2017 to prepare their classrooms.
  • 81 percent 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 percent of teachers in rural Michigan spent more than $300 of their money on their classrooms in 2017. 41 percent 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. The tax deduction does not cover items like health and cleaning supplies, food and clothing, and materials to make classrooms conducive for learning. 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. 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. 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 to 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 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 them immediately and get to work providing the education 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. Add this plugin to your school website and promote it to parents and the 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 by itself.

4. Collect box tops for education

If you have yet to start collecting box tops, 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 to collect.

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, 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 item. Some of the items you may present for auction include:

  • Have lunch with my teacher
  • Be the principal 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 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, holiday-themed, or interactive sale where students can create and sell their 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 percent) from every gift card you sell.

8. Chocolate bar sales

Since raising money by selling candy or chocolate is common during the school year, encourage your students to be as creative as possible with their sales pitches. Suggest designing a costume or finding a strategic location from which to sell (with a teacher or parent to choose). 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 percent of total education funding comes from the states. This means that already underpaid teachers must figure out ways to raise funds to facilitate their work.