According to a 2013 National School Supply and Education Association study, public school teachers spent $1.6 billion out of their own pockets for educational products in the 2012-2013 school year. Obviously with education budgets continuing to shrink, teachers are forced to dig even deeper into their own pockets to cover basic classroom supplies such as books, pencils, and teaching materials. Fortunately there are resources out there to help you fill your classrooms with much needed supplies without going broke. The following is a list of businesses and websites that offer “freebies” for educators
About.com freebies.about.com/od/teacherfreebies. Links to free DVDs, educational materials, posters, teaching kits, software, and more.
Adoptaclassroom.org Nonprofit that has channeled over $21 million in donations to classrooms across the country, making a difference for over 5 million students since its inception in 1998. One hundred percent of donations go to registered classrooms via an online credit system. Register your classroom by filling out an online form with basic information and a description of your needs, and you could be paired with local and national donors to fund classroom projects.
Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc. (The) Free books to anyone who shows up on Saturday or Sunday, throughout the year, including holidays, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 3001 Vineyard Lane, Baltimore, 410-662-5631, www.bookthing.org. There is a huge variety, and you never know what treasures you will find.
Crayola Educator Page www2.crayola.com/educators/ Offers art techniques, downloads, art lesson plans, resources, and special offers such as a grant program for elementary schools for $2500.
Discovery Education www.discoveryeducation.com. Discovery Channel site offering free resources, teachers’ guides, professional development resources, lesson plans, puzzlemaker, more.
Donorschoose.org/teachers Available for public school classrooms, teachers register to receive donations from individuals to help pay for classroom projects, supplies, even musical instruments. Teachers who submit projects for funding may also be eligible for a variety of funding opportunities through corporate matching programs.
Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov/osw/education/teachers.htm. A site created by the EPA with everything from basic facts about waste, to curriculum tools and lesson plans about climate change. You can also order free educational materials, such as posters, and have them shipped to your school at no charge. Information is also available about student awards and grants.
Freaky Freddies www.freakyfreddies.com/teacher.htm. Links to free materials, including books, DVDs, posters, and magazine subscriptions. Don’t let the name scare you!
FREE Federal Resources for Educational Excellence has over 1,500 federally supported teaching and learning resources available for educators grades K – 12 free from dozens of federal agencies, with new resources added daily. Site is managed by the US Department of Education. http://free1.ed.gov/
Freebies.com www.freebies.com/modules/i/teachers Links to free literature, posters, maps, teaching kits, magazines, more.
Freecycle.org Nonprofit movement of people who are trying to keep useable items out of landfills by giving and getting stuff for free in their own communities. With over 7 million memebers worldwide, you never know what you can find! Registration is free. Transactions and postings are monitored by volunteers.
Library of Congress www.loc.gov/acq/surplus.html. Surplus books available for schools and nonprofits from the Library of Congress. The majority of books are not for the primary grades, but if you are willing to spend a day you never know what you might find. The Donation Program is located in Room B03 of the James Madison Memorial Building, 2nd St. SE, between Independence Ave. & E. Capitol St., Washington, D.C. Hours of service are 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. For more information, call 202-707-9524. To email for information about the Library’s Surplus Books Program or transfers of surplus material from other Federal agencies, contact [email protected].
Momanddads.com Daily newsletter and links to free samples, magazines, and more. Site is not specifically for teachers, but does offer many goodies for children, including some freebies that would be good for classroom prize boxes.
My Savings.com www.mysavings.com/free-stuff-freebies/other-teacher-freebies. Links to free sample books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as calendars, posters, and product samples.
National Education Association 10 Free Things nea.org/tools/10FreeThings.html
List updated monthly of ten free things on the internet beneficial to teachers, such as lesson plans, Instructional videos, downloads, and more.
Pinterest has a board just for educators. Beyond Broke: Free Stuff For Teachers has a multitude of offers with items for teachers to use at home or in the classroom. From make-up and hair care products to lesson plans and books there is a sampling of just about anything that can fit in your mailbox. www.pinterest.com/beyondtestprep/beyond-broke-free-stuff-for-teachers/
Public Library Used books at very low cost. At the discretion of the manager of each branch, some offer the books for free to teachers who want to use them for their classrooms. Ask the manager of your local branch if the library offers free or discounted books for teachers with valid school ID.
Seriously Free Stuff has everything from lesson plans to posters and DVD’s available for educators. The site is updated daily. www.seriouslyfreestuff.com/free-stuff/free-educational/free-teachers-stuff.html.
Songdrops.com www.songdrops.com/teachers Up to 60 free musical downloads for teachers and other professionals who work with children.
Read Conmigo readconmigo.org Free bilingual books for your preschool or elementary level classroom, plus games, tips, and free personalized coloring sheets for bilingual students.
Supply Our Schools www.supplyourschools.org. Online registry designed to match donors with the needs of students in underprivileged school districts. Teachers create a supply list, donors purchase items off the list, and the items are shipped to the teachers.
TeacherFreebies.com Links to freebies including workbooks, teaching kits, flashcards, and printables.
TeacherLists.com Tell-a-Teacher Referral Program Teachers are rewarded with free school supplies from TeacherLists.com sponsors in return for spreading the word about the website to colleagues.
Extending “Shop Local” to the Classroom
Local businesses can be a great resource for classroom supplies. Many companies would rather donate old equipment and supplies to a school rather than just throw them out. From office supply stores to dollar stores, when seasonal items are pulled from the shelves, slightly damaged returns come back, or a store is remodeling, these perfectly usable items go into the trash. It never hurts to ask a manager to let you know before stock is permanently discarded. Some may ask for demographic information, such as the size of your school or classroom and if it qualifies as a Title I school, so it helps to have that information readily available. Also, if your school has a newsletter, you can offer to run a thank-you to their business in exchange for the donation. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Your school gets supplies, the company gets a tax write-off and some free advertising, and these items are put to good use instead of simply tossed in a landfill.
Know about a site that should be included in this list? Send an email to [email protected].