What to buy and how to get EVERYTHING YOU NEED within the limited budget you are given?!

These are the two questions running through the minds of educators everywhere. Undoubtedly, many of us dip into our own pocketbooks to provide the necessary school supplies we need, but strategic planning and prioritizing can help guide you in how to best optimize spending that money… buuuut I can’t make any promises that you won’t dip into your own pocketbook. 🙂 

Over the summer, as you think about what kinds of supplies you will need for the next school year, put some extra time and thought into prioritizing what’s most important, and then branch out into purchasing things on your wish list depending on how much you budget for school supplies. Below is a list of some helpful tips to guide through the  process. Some of these tips may feel like I’m stating the obvious, but this is the process I go through when deciding on what to buy. I’ve also created this FREEBIE – School Supply List Planning & Prioritizing Templates – to help you with this process.

Tip 1 ~ find out What your school will provide for you?

Find out and factor in what kinds of supplies your school will already provide for you. Does your school provide laminating access? Copy paper? Anchor chart paper? Manipulatives? Tissues?… etc. Once you know what your school provides for you, this will help narrow down the items on your “must have” list.

Tip 2 ~ Find out what's on the student supply list?

Find out and factor in what’s on your students’ supply list. Do your students provide crayons? Scissors? Pencils? Composition notebooks? Copy paper?… etc. Once you know what your students will be bringing with them, this will also help you eliminate some more items on your list. However, you will want to keep in mind that even though it’s on the supply list, not every student may be able to provide those supplies, so it is helpful to have some extras on hand.

Tip 3 ~ Take an inventory of what you already have.

If you have supplies left over from the previous year(s), take an inventory of what you have and see if you can cross some more items off your list. If you are new to teaching and have received donations from others, take an inventory of what you have been given and cross those items off your list. 

Tip 4 ~ Find out exactly How much supply money is allotted to you?

You will want to know exactly how much money you will have to budget for supplies. Some schools provide a stipend amount at the beginning of the year and then, on the student supply list, ask for a supply donation from the parents. Because it is a donation, you are not guaranteed that the child will provide that money. I suggest you go off of what you KNOW you will have. 

 Optional, you can also inquire from your school to see if there are ways for you to earn more towards your classroom funds. For example, at a school I previously worked for, if you volunteered your room to host aftercare, you were given extra money towards your classroom supplies. 

Tip 5 ~ list every "Must have" item for your classroom

Make a list of all the “MUST HAVE” items you foresee your class needing throughout the school year. Check out my free School Supply List Planning & Prioritizing Templates that will help you with your planning process.

Below I’ve listed a detailed list of suggested items for you to consider. They probably will not all fall under your “must have” list, but use this list to help you start generating ideas of things you may need in you classroom. I’ve also broken the list into categories to better help you organize the different types of supplies you’ll need to consider.

Suggested supplies:

Student Supplies

          • Book Buddy Baggies (students keep their readers in here for independent reading time). 
          • Crayons (Crayola brand tends to last longer than other brands)
          • Pencils (buy pre-sharpened pencils… TRUST ME,  you’ll thank me later!)
          • Glue sticks
          • Erasers
          • Expo Markers – Skinny
          • Half Sized Playdough containers (enough for each student, sometimes I make my own homemade playdough)  
          • Primary composition notebooks (I use these for poetry journals & math journals – two for each student) 
          • Student Supply box (I LOVED using these supply boxes this year. Each student had their own supply box and it was easier for them to stay organized and find what they needed. Inside there is a divider where I had them put their pencil and eraser on top and their crayons and glue stick on the bottom). 
          • Magic Erasers (Tip: Cut these into little cubes for each student to use as a whiteboard eraser. If you laminate something for them to write on, it can be hard to get off with a regular eraser, but if they use a magic eraser, it’s no problem for them to wipe clean!)
          • Scissors (I’m all about buying the same color for everyone so there are no issues with fighting over preferences)
          • Classroom Connecter school-to-home folders

Teacher Toolbox & Organization Supplies

Class Decoration Supplies

Community Class Supplies


Also, you’ll want to make a list of additional activity expenses you foresee needing throughout the year. For example, field trips (some schools may fund this separately), class parties (you may want to get hot coco, snacks, paper plates for a Holiday party, etc.), experiments you’d like to try (exploring five senses activity)… etc. 

Tip 6 ~ List those pricier classroom items you'd like to start accumulating.

Make a list of some of those pricier items that you would like to have for your classroom that would like to invest in and accumulate over the years. Then, prioritize them in the order that you would like to have them or in the order of what’s most affordable. 

Suggested Items:

tip 7 ~ Think of subscriptions you may want to utilized throughout the year

            • Boom Learning
            • Reading A-Z  ~  ** I’m able to offer you a $5 discount to Learning A-Z websites! Please use my promo code NB2052 to take advantage of this discount offer.
            • InstaINK

tip 8 ~ Consider personal teacher items you may want to purchase

Think of items you may want/need as a teacher. You most likely won’t be able to use your supply money for this but these investments may make your life easier.

Tip 9 ~ Find other Ways to fund your classroom needs

If you supply money is unable to stretch far enough to meet all the needs on your list, consider creating a Donners Choose project to share with friends and families who may want to help support your classroom. 

Tip 10 ~ When appropriate, ask parents to chip in

You will need to check with your school to get approval for this but, ask parents for help during special events. For example, if you’d like to have a class Thanksgiving party, you could ask parents to sign up to send in a certain item (store bought is usually standard in most schools). Signup Genius is a helpful tool for organizing something like this. usually parents are more than happy to do so.  

Disclaimer: Links on this blog post may be affiliate links. 

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