You have heard rumors, do doubt, about how much teachers spend every year on their classroom supplies. This is not exaggerated. As a matter of fact, there is a line on your 1040 form that allows you to take a special “teacher expense” out of your income before taxes. The amount has not been adjusted in over 15 years, so don’t get too excited about it.
The sad truth is, you will spend a lot of money on your classroom just to function, and much of that money will be spent up front, before you even get your first paycheck.
That being said, most schools have a place where teachers can put items they no longer want for other teachers to take and use. I needed a shelf last year and scored a very large, hand made shelf that worked perfectly.
I have several places I love to shop for school needs.
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Goodwill – Goodwill is a great source of furniture, rugs, realia, storage containers and children’s books. Lately, they have started charging too much for their large storage bins. However, you can get some nice wood boxes, plastic craft boxes and the like for a very low price.
Dollar Tree – Classroom bulletin board borders, posters, flash cards, plastic table cloths, craft supplies, rewards, stickers, cute stuff, tools and storage containers
Dollar General – Various supplies. They usually have a type of contact paper that makes any surface a white board and the same for a chalk board.
Walmart – Obvious reasons. This year I am investing in some storage boxes for my units. Heather noticed these “Latch Mates Plus” boxes. I asked a manager about them and found out that they are seasonal, They will only be there at the start of the year in the “Back to School” section.
Amazon – Watch lightning deals. I got a large pack of dry erase markers for $7 that was $12 in most stores. They currently have an amazing deal on glue sticks – 30 for $8.26!
Watch out for seasonal buys and clearance. If you find something you can really use, invest. You really don’t need nearly as many paper clips, markers, post it notes, index cards and pens as you might think. Wait a bit and see what your students bring. What you probably will need is storage. If you happen to be lucky enough to live near a “Feed the Children Teacher Store,” make the journey. Your school has to be on their list, so find that out first. These store offer donated supplies to teachers for free. I have had so many of my needs met this way! With this store, using what they have is more important than getting what you want.
Finally, look into discount stores that carry an odd variety of things they buy in lots. You usually get things for 75% less than elsewhere. For instance, children’s books that would cost $12.95 at a book store will only cost about $3.00.
Good hunting, fellow teachers!