Monday, August 13, 2012

Stocking up for Back-to-School on a BUDGET!

Here are some of the awesome things that I've been able to buy for my classroom and to share with others in my school & district.  Just by checking the weekly ads (I get the Sunday and Wednesday paper for the coupons anyways) and having a teacher card at Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max, you can get an incredible amount of stuff very inexpensively.  Take my loot from the South Salem Office Depot yesterday:

That's 30 new rulers, 30 colorful spirals, and 30 pencil pouches for $0.90 total!  NINETY CENTS!!  Any one of those items alone would normally cost at least $1!  Plus, I went there with my husband and Grandma after church, so I had them get the regular limit (3 of everything).  These deals are good through 08/18/12.  I'm really loving the 1 cent deals at Office Depot-there are no catches or crazy rebates or anything, and the customer service there is phenomenal.  I can now trade out my miss-matched set of old rulers and donate them to a new teacher or kids who don't have one at home.  The spirals will soon be transformed into fun, colorful literacy journals (see 08-12-12 post).  As for the pencil pouches, I will probably sell a few at my Circle the Wagons party, which I'll have to explain in an entirely different post, and give the rest to the school or the school depot that our district recently started.  I figure that if I'm getting them for a penny each, I'm sure I can find some good use for them, or some students eager to have one! 

A similar buy was a bunch of glue bottles.  I have glue coming out my ears in my classroom, so I have no use for these whatsoever.  However, our school's supply runs low towards the middle of the year, so we end up having to buy more at a higher cost.  I bought these glue bottles for a penny each, and they will go right into the supply room at school for others to enjoy. I also got these three packs of Pink Pearl erasers for only $0.25 each!  These are my favorite brand of eraser; they beat the cheapie Dollar Tree kind for durability, clean erase, and non-student-distractability!  The other great deal at Office Depot last week was handheld pencil sharpeners, which were also just a quarter each!  I love to have these for quiet moments when students need to sharpen their pencil, but we don't want to disrupt the whole class to do so (I also have a class pencil pouch with sharp pencils that a student attends to every morning to cut down on wasted/noisy sharpening time throughout the day).  This is about $90 worth of supplies that I got for about $12!

Staples changed their Teacher Rewards Program this year, which is unfortunate.  It used to be the same as Office Depot's, where you could get a class set (25 at Staples as opposed to 30 at Office Depot) for the "Extreme Deal" price.  However, now teachers can buy only the regular limit (usually 3) at the sale price, and then have to pay the regular price for the rest of the class set.  Staples then gives you a gift card type reward for the purchase price you had to pay over the sale price.  It still ends up that you get 25 for the sale price, but you have to go through the whole rewards program redemption to actually get your money back, and you can only spend it at Staples, so it's kind of a hassle.  Still, some great deals were had, like this:
Twenty-five tiny sticky note tab sets for $0.25 each instead of $2.00 like normal, plus 200 index cards for 2 cents and 2 packs of pencil eraser tops for 2 cents!  This is around $54 worth of stuff for under $7!  Most of these will be put to use in my classroom, but I'll be sharing stickies with teacher friends!

Last is another Staples deal.  Again, you have to deal with their crazy rewards program this year, but you can get about $76 worth of supplies for around $  !  I use the pocket folders as back pack folders (for students to bring their things to and from school in) and desk folders (to keep loose papers organized in our desks.  The pocket folders with the brads/3 hole thingies I use for Chant Folders.  Throughout the year, I print out educational chants based off of the subject that we are learning that have high level vocabulary and catchy tunes.  We use them to increase fluency, practice presentation skills, review previously learned material, etc.  At the end of the year, students get to take their chant book home.
I also got around 2,500 paper clips (can you tell my classroom colors are blue and purple this year?) and I will probably end up donating most of the paper clips to the school and other teacher friends.  A few little packs of mechanical pencils to keep in my desk are pictured too.

If you're a teacher, get bargain shopping!  Even if you're not, take advantage of these great deals, and donate whatever you don't need to your local school or a school supply drive!  There are so many families who desperately need supplies for their children, and budget cuts have put a spending squeeze on nearly every school throughout the country.  Take advantage of the generosity of large corporations and help someone out. :)

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