Teaching is hard but, let’s focus on how to keep your paycheck in your pocket with this post! You’re probably laughing because this couldn’t be more of an obvious statement, but often when things are hard, we are willing to toss money at solutions that will lessen the load and make our lives easier. This is sadly a common trait of us teachers, who don’t get paid enough in the first place!
What if there were some ways to make your life easier, AND keep your paycheck in your pocket? Here are 10 tried and true classroom hacks to save your sanity without breaking the bank and put more money back in your pocketbook.
1.) Dollar Store Tablecloths for Bulletin Boards
Bulletin boards are so cute and fun, and so dang time-consuming! One way to keep more money in your pocket is by grabbing some plain or printed tablecloths from the dollar store to use as a background. This hack, will save you TIME, look great, and last so much longer.
2.) Hand sanitizer as a bathroom pass
Next, creating bathroom passes gets time-consuming, and you have to constantly clean them! There are many for purchase at teacher stores or on Etsy, but they’re expensive! Go functional with hand sanitizer – add a “bathroom pass” label to the sanitizer and have students carry that – and use some when they get back to the room! Win, win.
3.) Clothes Drying Rack as an Art Drying Rack
Do you create art with your students? I LOVE doing art projects with my class, it’s perfect for fine motor skills and carryover from speech and OT! Drying racks for student art are REALLY expensive – just grab a clothes drying rack from the dollar store and some clothes pins, and hang the art off the rungs!
4.) Missing Socks as Erasers
Additionally, if your family is anything like mine, you have a whole lost and found in your laundry room of socks missing a mate! Don’t throw them away! Erasers are expensive, use those clean, useless socks as erasers for dry erase boards!
5.) Plastic plates as dry erase boards
Speaking of dry erase… those individual student boards can really be pricey. I started to use plastic plates as dry erase boards. They are just as effective as the real thing, plus easier to store.
6.) Cardboard Mailing Boxes as Student Mailboxes
I have always coveted the sturdy, wooden student mailboxes from Lakeshore Learning. Their furniture is so well made and blends in so nicely in a classroom! This has never been in the budget at any school I’ve worked at, and I found a hack that truly does the trick. Just adhere mailing boxes from the post office together and… voila! It’s not as sturdy as a wooden mailbox, but it’s definitely a close second.
7.) Milk Crates as Shelves
However, every year in September I find myself scrounging around the school finding shelves that other teachers have discarded. I NEVER have enough storage for all of our task boxes, individual work stations, and supplies. Milk crates! My school always has way too many, and with a few zip ties to hold them together, they make really sturdy and useful shelves.
8.) Cereal Boxes as Book Bins
More over, book bins are always more expensive than I feel like they should be, but I know I’m not alone in feeling like I NEED them! Using cereal boxes as book bins can be so useful – a little paint or wrapping paper and they’re good to go!
9.) Room Dividers with PVC Pipe and Fabric
The commercially made room dividers that many special education classrooms use are life savers. We love them, they work great, but definitely break the bank. Not in your school budget? Make your own using PVC pipe and some fabric! Much more affordable and just as useful.
10.) Condiment Jars for Art Supply Storage
Lastly, I’ll say it again… storage is hard to come by! The items I’ve found in commercial stores REALLY add up, and the quality isn’t always the best. Send out an ask your colleagues for their empty and clean plastic condiment jars… your new pencil holders could be upcycled mayonnaise containers!
I hope these 10 ideas help you to get creative and keep your paycheck in your pocket. I cannot even count how much money some of these have saved me. Here are some other ideas right on my Pinterest Board! What DIY hacks would you add?