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Save Money in the Classroom: 16 Thrifty Kids' Craft Ideas + Money Saving Tips for Teachers

By: Emily Timmons, Editor, AllFreeKidsCrafts.com

Save Money in the Classroom: 16 Thrifty Kids' Craft Ideas + Money-Saving Tips for TeachersTeachers, need some tips for saving money? It’s no secret that crafting with children is an excellent way to reinforce the things they learn in the classroom. But no matter how large or small your class may be, finding and buying the materials for your classroom crafts can get expensive. Teachers already spend a good amount of their own money on classroom supplies, so how can you give your little learners the most engaging educational experience without breaking the bank?

The best teaching ideas are the thriftiest ideas, and the easiest way to save money in the classroom is to find cheap (or free!) crafting materials. Whether you go digging through your recycle bin, scour the Dollar Store, or simple gather things you already have in the house, you’ll find that it’s easier than you once thought to save on supplies.

Save Money in the Classroom: 16 Thrifty Kids' Craft Ideas + Money-Saving Tips for Teachers

Thrifty Hacks for the Classroom:

1. Plan Ahead. If you’re a teacher, you’re very used to planning ahead. Think about any classroom crafts you’re going to be doing during the school year, especially when it comes to the holidays. Knowing ahead of time what materials you’re going to need will help you cut down on binge spending later.

2. Buy in Bulk. Whether you have a large class or are simply looking to stock up for the years to come, buying in bulk is crucial. Similarly, watch for special deals or coupons you can use to save money on supplies.

3. Go Through Last Year’s Supplies. Do you have anything left over from last year’s lesson plans that you can make use of this year? You might be surprised at what you find when you look through your classroom supplies. Clean and mend as needed, and you’re good to go.

4. Put Your Recycling Bin to Work. Stock up on tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic jugs, cereal boxes, and any other (clean!) recycled materials you can. Then, challenge yourself to use them to organize your classroom. We have tons of organizing ideas here, but here are a few that are especially great for classrooms:Paper Roll Pencil Organizers

  • Cut old cereal boxes to use them as in/out folders, personal student mailboxes, or organizers for the week's assignments.
  • Magnetic Locker Organizer: this is a great hack for your students, but you can use it too! Grab an old soup can or two, and watch your dry erase board become totally organized.
  • A lot of plastic plates will work as personal dry-erase boards. Buy a pack or two, and you can supply each student with their own board.
  • Paper Roll Pencil Organizers: need to keep your students organized? These DIY organizers will cost next to nothing to make, so you can put one on each cluster of desks for easy organization.

5. Ask Parents to Help. Grabbing items from your own recycling bin is great, but you’re only one person. Asking parents to donate any recyclable materials they were planning to toss anyway is a great way to save money in the classroom. Send every child home with a ‘supply list’ of recycled items and watch your stock of classroom supplies grow.

6. Go to the Dollar Store. You can find tons of classroom supplies at the Dollar Store, from paper plates to plastic bins to paper bags, and you won’t have to break your budget.

7. Utilize Your Community. Do a little research to find out if any places in your area are willing to donate cardboard boxes, old papers, etc. to your classroom. If you find some great local resources for classroom supplies, be sure to share them with other teachers!

Budget-Friendly Kids’ Craft Ideas for the Classroom

Paper Bag ApplesPaper bags are a great craft supply for the classroom, since you can get a fairly large pack of them for relatively little cash. Kids can easily color, cut, and paste onto their paper bags, and you can make just about anything from them! Here are our top recycled crafts with paper bags:

Colorful Paper Plate BirdsNeed something a little sturdier than a paper bag for your next classroom activity? Paper plate crafts are another excellent option for your classroom, and you can always find them at the dollar store. With a little paint and some imagination, kids can turn paper plates into all sorts of art projects.

Colorful TP Roll FishToilet paper roll crafts are essentially free; after all, what household doesn’t need toilet paper? Toilet paper rolls are great for small hands, and they’re very easy to paint, which means having a stock of these cardboard tubes is essential. Once you’ve gathered enough toilet paper rolls for everyone, try these:

DIY Memory GameStill need more ideas? Skip the shopping trip and find everything you need for free! Finding free printables for your classroom activities is another great way to save money, and there are tons of different kinds of printables you can utilize in educational games. You can print out coloring pages, printable games, or other learning activities for next to no cost. Here are a few of my favorites:

What’s your best tip for keeping costs low in the classroom? Leave a comment below, and you might see your tip added to this list!

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