Teachers have many words that cause them to cringe; standardized tests, after school meetings, and budgets. While some are part of the job, there's a way to beat the last one. Try some of these budget saving tips for your classroom; whether it's your budget you're watching or your district's budget.
Bulletin boards are seldom pretty to begin, and sheets of construction paper fade and look too pieced. Try purchasing rolls of wrapping paper to create a fun background or cover them with overlapping newspaper. Fabric yards from the clearance bins work well if hung with a staple gun, and with a good fold there is no need for borders. Even those chalkboard toppers can be perked up with some new cork contact paper.
What do you fill the boards with? Forget the expensive kits for sale at teacher stores. Instead, make a collage of photos you take in your classroom throughout the year. Pull the pages from a yearly wall calendar and paste the school year months across the board as a long term project planner. For a fun feel, create a school spirit collage with pennants, a t-shirt, and other school store paraphernalia.
Try to get your money from what you already have. The paper boarders sold at teachers' supply stores can get tiring. Try flipping them over and using the opposing sides. Some are meant to be double-sided. Others have a plain white side which can be decorated with markers, splattered paint, stamps, or inspirational text.
When posters get ragged, don't throw them away. Instead, cut out the key images and create a new collage poster. Try cutting the edges away with a paper cutter to make a smaller poster or frame it to remedy the edges.
When a new manipulative is needed, shop the building supply stores instead. Individual white boards offer great games and participation options for a class. Head to the Home Depot or Lowes to purchase an 8x4 foot sheet of kitchen/bath laminate. This is meant to be hung on the wall in place of tile, but it works just like a white board. Have it cut into 8 inch squares and get 72 whiteboards! (Alter the sizes to fit your needs.) You can also cut this large piece into two smaller whiteboards to hang in the classroom.
Look in the aisles for decorations like yardsticks, measuring tape, and house numbers for a math classroom. Add a cheap metal mailbox by your door for exit slips or to distribute bell-ringers. Be creative, and think cheap. There's usually an economy version available that works perfectly for the classroom.
I don't know if other states do this, but I discovered something great in small-town Nebraska, of all places.
The library system for these towns has a die-cutting machine, which is loaned out to different libraries. I've been going up there every few days, and have made darling cut-outs perfect for decorating and bulletin boards. Everything from suns to Halloween pumpkins and shamrocks, even a wonderful Nebraska silhouette. (I bought a couple sheets of Nebraska Cornhuskers scrapbooking paper for that one, and the cut-outs look terrific!)
So ask your library, because you never know what sort of resources they can find for you!
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