Every year, about 94 percent of public school teachers spend their own money on basic classroom supplies, according to a 2018 National Center for Education Statistics survey. Teachers are not only investing in materials such as pencils, books and paper, but they also need to buy basic sanitary items for the classroom as well. As education budgets continue to shrink, teachers are forced to dig even deeper into their own pockets each academic year to acquire supplies. Fortunately, there are resources out there to help teachers secure those supplies without breaking the bank. The following is a list of businesses and websites that offer freebies for educators.
Amazon The Amazon Wishlist feature offers an easily accessible and convenient way for parents to donate much-needed items to their child’s classroom. Teachers are encouraged to add a variety of needed supplies to their wishlist to leave it up to parents to decide which purchases agree with their budgets. amazon.com
AdoptAClassroom.org This nonprofit that has channeled more $21 million in donations to classrooms across the country, making a difference for more than five 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. adoptaclassroom.org
The Book Thing of Baltimore Free books to anyone who shows up on Saturday or Sunday, throughout the year, including holidays. There is a huge variety, and you never know what treasures you will find. 3001 Vineyard Lane, Baltimore. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 410-662-5631, bookthing.org
Crayola Educator Page Offers art techniques, downloads, art lesson plans, resources and special offers such as a grant program for elementary schools for $2,500. crayola.com
Discovery Education Discovery Channel’s website offers free resources, teachers’ guides, professional development resources, lesson plans, a puzzle maker and more. discoveryeducation.com.
DonorsChoose.org 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. donorschoose.org/teachers
Environmental Protection Agency 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. epa.gov/osw/education/teachers
Freaky Freddies Links to free materials, including books, DVDs, posters, and magazine subscriptions. Don’t let the name scare you! freakyfreddies.com/teacher
Freebies.com Links to free literature, posters, maps, teaching kits, magazines and more. freebies.com/modules/i/teachers
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 more than 7 million members worldwide, you never know what you can find! Registration is free. Transactions and postings are monitored by volunteers. freecycle.org
Library of Congress 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. loc.gov/acq/surplus
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. momsanddads.com
MySavings.com Links to free sample books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as calendars, posters and product samples. mysavings.com/free-stuff-freebies/other-teacher-freebies
National Education Association 10 Free Things List updated monthly of 10 free things on the internet beneficial to teachers, such as lesson plans, Instructional videos, downloads and more. nea.org/tools/10FreeThings.html
Pinterest has a board just for educators: Beyond Broke: Free Stuff for Teachers, which 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. pinterest.com
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.
Read Conmigo Free bilingual books for your preschool or elementary level classroom, plus games, tip, and free personalized coloring sheets for bilingual students. readconmigo.org
Seriously Free Stuff has everything from lesson plans to posters and DVDs available for educators. The site is updated daily. seriouslyfreestuff.com
Songdrops.com Up to 60 free musical downloads for teachers and other professionals who work with children. songdrops.com/teachers
Supply Our Schools 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. supplyourschools.org.
TeacherFreebies.com Links to freebies including workbooks, teaching kits, flashcards and printables. teacherfreebies.com
TeacherLists.com Tell-a-Teacher Referral Program Teachers are rewarded with free school supplies from TeacherLists.com’s sponsors in return for spreading the word about the website to colleagues.
The Wish List Depot With the required eligibility, teachers can shop free necessary school supplies year round in person at the Wish List Depot or through the online shop. This organization is geared towards helping teachers provide basic learning essentials for students in need. wishlistdepot.org
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 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 tossed in a landfill.
Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap Who doesn’t love a discount? This organization offers a collection of gently used classroom supplies at reduced prices for teachers. teachersupplyswap.org
Know about a site that should be included in this list? Send an email to info@BaltimoresChild.com.