On the Hunt for Supplies

Need help finding instructional supplies for use in your classroom? This article provides plenty of advice for finding materials within your community low to no cost.
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All Around You

One of the easiest ways to obtain resources and materials for your classroom is to tap into the local merchants in your area. I have used this strategy for many years with incredible success. I've gotten wallpaper samples from the local paint supply store, which we used to create our own homemade books. I've begged for travel brochures from the local travel agency as part of our study of European countries. By asking (pleading, begging) for materials and supplies from your hometown merchants, you can quickly make up for any deficiencies in the school budget.

Here are a few suggestions of places I've found helpful to seek supplies from:

  • Appliance store: large boxes, cartons, cardboard

  • Carpet store: carpet squares, rug samples

  • Florist: ribbon, plastic ties, foil paper

  • Newspaper: newsprint, old newspapers

  • Paint store: paint samples, empty cans, stirrers, wallpaper samples

  • Art supply store: rags, paint, crayons, ink

  • Pizza parlor: pizza boxes, cardboard circles

  • Bank: coin wrappers, deposit forms

  • Hospital: x-rays, colored file folders

  • Camera shop: 35mm film canisters

  • Liquor store: cartons, boxes

  • Contractor: wood pieces, plastic tubing, bricks

  • Hardware store: buckets, tools, cleaners, brushes

  • Cleaners: hangers

  • Travel agency: travel brochures, pamphlets, maps

  • Supermarket: egg cartons, boxes, paper bags

  • Doctor/dentist: old magazines

  • Drug store: empty pill bottles, posters, signs

Ask around your local community, and you might be surprised by what you can obtain. When local businesses and merchants know that some of the materials they would normally discard are being used for educational purposes, they are often more than willing to make contributions to your classroom. Make your requests in person, and build a personal relationship with several small businesses in your area. The results can be quite rewarding.

It's Free!

Expert Opinion

Check out www.freebies.com for some of the latest offers and latest materials you can obtain free of charge.

To freely or inexpensively supplement the teaching and supply materials you get from your school or district when budgets are tight, check out some of the professional resources you subscribe to. Many of the newsletters and newspapers published by these groups have sections offering free and low-cost materials. Usually, all it takes is a letter (or e-mail), and you can obtain all sorts of printed materials for your classroom. In each edition of NSTA Reports, the newspaper for members of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), a section lists a wide variety of materials, audiovisual aids, brochures, pamphlets, and other items that are either free or modestly priced. Check out professional newspapers—there's lots of stuff free for the asking.

Educators Progress Service is a company that publishes guides for teachers interested in obtaining free or inexpensive teaching materials. Contact them at 214 Center Street, Randolph, WI 53956; 1-888-951-4469; or www.freeteachingaids.com, and order a few of their guides for your classroom.

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