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5 Great Ways to Save Money on Classroom Crafts

Great ways to save money on classroom crafts.3D graphics image by Quince Creative

I am always trying to think of great ways to save money on classroom crafts.  Most kids–especially in the middle school range–love crafts. But quality crafting  gets very expensive.  This becomes especially true if you are shopping at the local craft store for each craft you plan.  That doesn’t even take into account that a large class size means way more craft supplies.

In this article, I would like to share what I have learned about great ways to save money on classroom crafts without sacrificing quality, but rather increasing it.

Over the years, I learned some great ways to save money crafting in the classroom. I found ways to do it without sacrificing on quality of the projects we were doing.  These tips help with any classroom and any age.

But before I share those things I learned, let me give you some backstory.

The History

Every time I arrived at class and the kids started trickling in, they ran straight to the craft display area.  they wanted to see what was new that they would get to work on.  (They were also running in to see what the themed snack would be which was also on the display table!  But that is a whole different blog post.) And the vast majority of the time, upon discovering what was in store for them, there were squeals of delight.  Nothing makes a teacher more content than realizing you hit the nail on the head pleasing your students.  They love what you have planned for them. And they have no idea the educational value that you have added to their fun.  

I loved that they were so excited to come to Kids’ Club.  And several  classes ran with more than 100% attendance because they would all come and some would bring friends and neighbors with them.

The Problem and a Solution

I have to admit, that excitement from the kids put a bit of pressure on me. I wanted to make sure that I planned activities that made them want to keep coming back (and bring their friends). But those activities also needed to be educational and  point them back to the lessons they were learning.

So because of that pressure I spent hours weekly scouring the internet for the “perfect crafts and activities” for the kids to do.  I learned, though,  that the more I did this, the easier it became.

One of the problems I faced frequently, though, was that my ideas overspent the budget by quite a bit.  But rather than throw out the idea I had (once I get an idea, I tend to be pretty driven about seeing it through to the end), I started trying to come up with ways to make those ideas affordable.  Once I set my mind to it, it didn’t take too long to figure it out.  And over time, some of the things that I did became regular patterns in my crafting and activity planning.

So, after lots of years of late-night internet searching, shopping, and brainstorming, I can now share with you these 10 great ways to save money on classroom crafts.

And you can get to bed earlier knowing the work has already been done!

1.  Dollar Store

I realize that I am preaching to the choir on this one.  But it’s probably the one thing that we are able to save the most with and still shop retail.  I bought picture frames for stained glass projects that probably would not have been very impressive had they been for pictures on the mantle at home. But their frames looked amazing with the stained glass.

Flameless candles, craft supplies (be careful, some supplies can actually be MORE expensive at the dollar store than at other locations, such as Walmart, Dollar General, or Big Lots), vases and floral supplies, toys, party and wedding supplies provide really good options.  These items work well for parties at the end of books as well as crafts and activities for the books themselves.  Go into the store with an open mind and take your time.  You will be surprised at the ideas you can come up with.

2.  Thrift Stores

This one is a bit trickier than a retail option.  You generally aren’t going to find anything in supplies of up to 20 items or more of the same thing. The one exception to this is that a few thrift stores get donations from retail stores (like Target and Walmart).  They will often donate items that didn’t sell well to gain back some of the lost revenue.  But the beauty of not getting the same exact item for everything is that the students generally don’t have the same taste in the things they do.  They will not have a problem with things that turn out looking a bit different.  This rings especially true in the crafting arena.

Framed Again!

I hate to do it, but I am using the frames example one more time.  Honestly, frames tend to make up a lot of the craft ideas in my classroom because they really put a polished touch on the students’ crafts.

So I needed some better quality frames for the class for paintings that they were doing.  The dollar store ones really weren’t going to cut it for this project.  I knew about a month in advance that I would be needing 17 frames.  So every time I drove past a thrift store and had some extra time, I stopped in to get one or two frames that were good quality and no more than a dollar. (I broke that rule twice and purchased a couple of frames that were $2 each and one for $3.)

Within a couple of weeks I had all that I needed.  I actually got a couple of extra frames so that there would still be variety by the time the last kids got to choose.  It worked like a charm–no fighting ever ensued over frames, even at the end of the kids! And the kids absolutely loved getting to pick out the frame that they wanted for their project.

great ways to save money on classroom crafts

If I needed to recommend a certain thrift store, it would probably be Goodwill. They maintain a really good system of organization as well as color coding.  You can get in and out of there knowing that you got to see what you needed to.  And totally off topic, but they are also one of the most productive charities in America based on the percentage of administrative costs vs. money they use to help the community.

3.   Ask the Parents

There are some supplies many people will have in their own homes, but not necessarily in large supply.  Some examples are baby food jars, larger glass jars, paper towel rolls, tea cups, paper plates, and so many more things.  If you send a note home (or in online communication if your school has it), just make sure you do it a couple of weeks before you need the supplies.  I generally find that whatever I ask for I end up getting way too much of.

The same works for inexpensive supplies that parents would love to help out by purchasing.  I knew of a teacher that had a little section of her bulletin board that she reserved for a list of whatever supplies she needed for the classroom.  Then on days that parents came to help or attend meetings, they could easily see what was needed and help out.  The teacher didn’t feel like she was putting pressure on the parents to buy supplies.  And the parents were more than happy to see a need and help out.  Another great way to do this is to keep a running list on a Facebook page/website.  This works even better in that it can be updated to the minute once supplies are no longer needed or if a new or urgent need arises.

4.  Used book stores

There are used books stores in most cities and towns in America.  Many times they keep piles of books that have been around for years that they know will probably not sell. Often they will give them to you or sell them for a remarkably low price.

Used book stores make one of the best resources for literature teachers since so many of their crafts can center around books.

Speaking of which, here is a link on Pinterest for tons of things you can do with old books.  You can tweak lots of these ideas to match the theme of whatever book(s) you are working on right now.

5.  Plan Ahead to Buy on Sale

If you planned your crafts out at least a couple of months, or you are repeating from another year, then you can pretty easily buy things that you see on sale ahead of time.  You can look online in your spare time for sales at craft stores in their flyers.  You can also check out the sales in-store if you are shopping for other things.  Some great examples of things to buy ahead on sale would be paints, glues, brushes, fabric remnants, decorative papers, beads, fancy stickers, or washi tapes. The possibilities are endless, and there are large numbers of items that go on sale weekly at craft stores.  Don’t forget for bigger supply items, you can use your 40 or 50% off coupon in most craft stores.

Conclusion

There are always ways to save some more money on whatever project you are working on in class.  The biggest key to be successful at this is to be ahead of the game.  As long as you are planning early enough, you will always be able to take advantage of all of these suggestions.

Please share what has worked well for you in saving money without sacrificing quality.  Comment below!

This Post Has 72 Comments

  1. Tracey Martin

    Those are outstanding ideas even for crafts at home. Anytime you can reuse or repurpose something it makes the craft that much more unique and special. Love it!

    1. Marie

      Very true, Tracey. Most of my classroom tips in my blog work just as well in the home. And yes, it breathes life into crafts when the materials come with a story!

  2. Mackenzie Fox

    I’m in love with the repurposed book ideas. What a fun and unique thing. So many of my closest friends are teachers, and I can’t wait to share some of your ideas with them!

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Mackenzie!

  3. Ane

    Those are great ideas to save money on crafts even outside of the classroom. We recently started homeschooling our children this year and it’s so great to find blogs like yours that give useful information to make learning fun and practical. 🙂

    1. Marie

      Congratulations on beginning your homeschool journey, Ane!!! I hope that my website is able to send lots more inspiration your way!

  4. Laura G

    I love getting things for my kids’ classes at the Dollar Store, but to your point, thrift stores have plenty to offer too! And they can be nicer quality items!

    1. Marie

      Yes, Laura! If you can find a good quality item in nearly new condition, you have hit the jackpot!!! My local thrift shops actually get brand new items from stores that were overstocked. It’s so fun getting to see those items and seeing how they can be used in the classroom.

  5. Nyxinked

    Great ideas. Love the idea of re-purposing books. My sister is a teacher and always pops to the £shops for classroom craft items.

  6. Karen Maxwell

    Great idea. Everything is too expensive now. Also reusing would be good for the environment

  7. Katie Walsh Beck

    The dollar store is like my craft heaven for kids. There is so much there to choose from and all it takes is a little planning to find what you need there. These are all great recommendations for teachers…that stuff can get crazy expensive if you don’t know where to go 🙂

    1. Marie

      Yes, Katie, the dollar store is probably my number one go-to as well! You can absolutely find and plan quicker than most of the other options.

  8. Christine G

    I enjoy crafting something new every once in a while, especially during the holiday seasons. These are great ideas for finding inexpensive ways for creating something new and creative.

  9. Leanne Wong

    It’s so important to think ahead of the game and prepare. A little goes a long way and I think these tips would really help save a lot on craft expenditures down the road. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Marie

      You are right–the preparation makes all the difference! Thank you, Leanne!

  10. Leanne Wong

    Second time reading this and it’s a good refresher of the different ways to save up on crafts. Going to thrift stores and buying on sale are some of the best ways to buy things at large discounts!

  11. Wow, what a list of awesome ideas! Thrift stores and Dollar stores are definitely the places to go to when it comes to saving money, and I love the idea of taking advantages from the used book stores. 🙂

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Ola!

  12. Joanna

    I don’t think that teachers should be buying the supplies for the children in class. It can get so expensive and teachers are definitely not paid enough to afford supplies, especially when they teach multiple classes! When I was in primary school and we had to create different crafts, the teacher would send us home with a list of supplies, that our parents would get for us.

    1. Marie

      I agree with this, Joanna. I actually referred to the parents helping out in point 3. But sometimes the teacher can help carry the load too. It allows for him/her to buy exactly what is needed and sometimes the burden on some parents can be too much. It helps for everyone to try to take some of the load. And yes, I agree that it would be nice if teachers got paid more. They are worth so much more than what they are paid. Thank you for your thoughtful answer.

  13. MR

    Great post. We too love the Dollar Store…you get really good stuff for under a dollar.

  14. rhiabakes

    Really helpful ideas, thank you! I will be sharing with my teacher friends and am sure they will really appreciate them!

    1. Marie

      Thank you! I appreciate you sharing this with your teacher friends!

  15. Amber Myers

    I love these ideas! I do find some fabulous things at the Dollar Spot or Dollar General. The Target dollar spot sometimes has great stuff too.

  16. responses2life

    These are great ideas and tips. Not just for the classroom but those of us that are crafty all on our own. I love the used bookstore idea!

    1. Marie

      Very true! I use these same ideas for my home projects as well! Thank you for sharing!

  17. Candy Rachelle

    This is a super awesome post for school teachers. Dollar Tree is incredible for arts and crafts!

    Candy Rachelle
    Keeping Up With Candy
    http://www.keepingupwithcandy.com

  18. Nyxinked

    My sister is constantly using £ shops for supplies etc. They are expected to provide alot for their students which I honestly don’t agree with to an extent. I think the schools should be more funded to help rather than it coming from the teachers pockets.

    1. Marie

      I think that may be why a lot of teachers aren’t doing a lot of these projects in their classroom. If they don’t have the money it makes it much harder. Sometimes the school has some supplies on hand. And many time parents can help by contributing. But if the teacher works in a lower income school zone, then that becomes very difficult. In those cases, teachers need to get super creative, which takes even more time and energy. Tough stuff.

  19. Lisa

    This is such useful information for teachers. I can imagine classroom crafts can get quite expensive!

  20. Gladys Nava

    Thanks for sharing your ideas! It really gives information and helps us, to learn about craft at the same time with saving money. Thanks for this!

  21. Norma

    I loved all of your tips for teachers and saving money. I will recommend this to a friend of mine who is a teacher. Loved your blog

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Norma!

  22. Oh wow!! That is such a lovely idea. There were a few years where I did so many arts and crafts projects. They all start off low cost but the items certainly add up to a bigger budget. I like how the frames really took a simple project to a new level.

    1. Marie

      Seriously, you would not believe how many projects were taken to a whole new level with frames. It just gave them a finished, almost professional look!

    1. Marie

      Yep! I am guilty of buying too much at those sales, lol!

  23. Dongski Dong

    Recycling craft materials are the best way to save money. I trained my daughter to always recycle even a tiny bit of coloring material.

  24. These are great ideas! The dollar store actually has some really great finds. Michael’s does too and they always have coupons!

  25. Rosey Marie

    If you plan ahead to do it instead of relying on last minute, that helps a lot. Then you can do these things you have mentioned, like asking for parents or trying to get the best deal, for sure!

    1. Marie

      Yes, Rosey, planning is critical to success when you are trying to save money. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Amber Hurley

    I’m a huge fan of the dollar store! Will go there for a lot of things!

  27. Rupal Srivastava

    These are all such great tips. Repurposing old stuff can definitely make you save a lot of
    money.

  28. MR

    Wow…great post. We love Dollar store. Repurposed books is a great and unique idea!

  29. Rose Ann Sales

    Great ideas,I will share this with my sister.

  30. katrina Kroeplin

    great tips. craft supplies are very expensive. i def buy when they are on sale.

  31. Ronnie

    These are some great tips! Something else that I do is ask on Facebook groups, like those of my city or recycling groups in the area. People are always happy to part ways with materials and papers their kids have outgrown or they have no more use for. We collect a bunch of useful items this way!

  32. Nkem

    It often feels unfortunate that teachers have to sometimes buy their own materials for the classroom, but if that’s what is necessary, I think your tips are great.

  33. I most certainly love way 5. It gives me ample time to prepare myself for what I want and not just need.

  34. Kathy Kenny Ngo

    They can all do diamond painting as well. It can serve as classroom decor, gifts, and will teach them patience.

  35. chad

    These are amazing ideas!!! Since the start of the pandemic, we’re going to the dollar store weekly, our neighborhood store is packed with amazing DIYs for the kids.

  36. Heather

    We’ve found so many great things at Dollar Tree! I also shop in bulk often so we always have the supplies on hand.

  37. the joyous living

    I LOVE the dollar store. it is amazing how many amazing things you can find in the shop. I even got my friend last year a pack of photo booth props for back to school.

  38. GiGi Eats

    I feel like Classrooms are going to be super obsolete soon!!! So crafts for the classroom may be FREE soon because you won’t need any!

  39. Kuntala Bhattacharya

    Love the ideas. My son is crazy for craft and he will like the ideas as he runs short of materials sometimes.

  40. Shannon

    There are some great suggestions in this blog. I usually buy from the craft store and don’t shop around too much. Especially curious to see what a used book seller would have.

  41. Celebrate Woman Today

    These are definitely great ways to plan and save of classroom crafts. Very creative and money-saving!

  42. Bella

    These are such tips, I am trying to save money for a house and stuff thanks for sharing these tips

  43. Heidi

    This is so helpful to new and seasoned teachers alike!

  44. Emman Damian

    I always recycle and upcyle. I let my creativity flourish so I can save up!

  45. Sundeep

    These are some great ideas to save money on classroom crafts. I am sharing with my few friends

  46. tweenselmom

    These are indeed useful ways on saving money!! Thanks for sharing these tips with us!

  47. rachel

    These are great ideas. I’m homeschooling this year and I have been shopping at the dollar store a lot.

  48. World in Eyes

    These ideas and tips are truly very helpful and useful one..glad you shared this valuable information with us..great work though..

  49. Kylie

    These are such incredible ideas and brought back my memories of crafts when I was little! I was surprised how big a difference a frame works – I’ll going to remember this tip for sure! Thanks so much, I love your posts! x

  50. Jackline A

    These were helpful tips to really save money on crafts supplies. Thank you for sharing.

  51. Hannah

    Really great tips for teachers but also for when I babysit! I think buying things ahead for a sale is such a good one!

  52. Kiwi

    I think the Dollar Store is a smart idea. So many craft ideas to make your classroom have fun crafts.

  53. Hi

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    1. Marie

      I would be happy to do this. Thank you for your hard work in providing quality photos for me to use for my content. Feel free to link back to my article as an example of how your work has been used!

      Have a blessed day,

      Marie Phillips at Complete Literature.

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