Author: Heather D.

Finding Freebies for Your Classroom

To me, teaching is sort of like being a police officer; you’re never really off duty. That’s why, even during the summer, most teachers are in a constant mode of preparing for the next year even when they’re (supposed to be) on vacation.

One of the main things I used to do during the summer was stock up on supplies that required a lot of time to acquire, such as driving to stores that are in the middle of nowhere to get a really good deal on art materials. Often, many of my errands also included picking up free stuff for the classroom.

Below are some of my favorite places to find free stuff for my classroom. (These do require some legwork, and that may not be something you want to do during your summer vacation. Therefore, at the bottom of the post I’ve also included sites that have lists of free online technology materials and software that can be found with just the click of a button.)

Freecycle is one of my favorite go-to sites for free (duh) stuff. I’ve seen everything from baby clothes to coupons to Jacuzzis listed there. Many people give away office supplies, clothes that their kids have outgrown (great for dress up or as cover ups during messy art projects) and other miscellaneous items perfect for a classroom. You can make a request on the site too; often people have things collecting dust in their garage that they don’t bother listing because they figure no one wants it. Don’t be afraid to ask! [Just FYI, many people prefer to answer requests from people who offer their own stuff on the site. Trust me, people will want your junk.]

Check your city’s recycling center (you can find it in the waste management section of the city website.) Most have offers of free paint that people have dropped off; often the can is almost full. While latex paint may not necessarily be something you’d put in the hands of small children, think of using it to paint furniture or bulletin boards in the classroom to add some extra color. I painted my bulletin boards so that I wouldn’t have to put up new colored paper every year, and it never looked ragged or faded like paper. The recycling center also has cleansers and other products that can be useful in the classroom. Again, not necessarily for children’s use, but I liked to have some good cleaning products stashed away.

Craigslist has a freebie section on their site. Maybe you want to start a classroom garden. I’ve seen free dirt and planks advertised that would make for good window boxes or plots. Of course, there are also many other things offered.

I’ve gone to wallpaper stores and gotten old sample books that can used for art projects, book covers, or even as shelf liners to distinguish different sections of the classroom library (fiction is on the blue papered shelves, nonfiction on the red, etc.).

Same goes for carpet companies: I’ve gone to a carpet store and received carpet squares (with finished edges so there’s no unraveling) that I used for students to sit on in different areas of the classroom. Many companies want to get rid of old samples that are taking up space. It takes a bit of time to search and ask around, but often you’ll find your treasure hunts to be quite successful. So use this down time before the beginning of the year to hunt down these freebies.

Below are the sites that have all kinds of freebie lists for you to peruse. If you have a favorite site or store where you can get free materials, please let us know in the comments; the more resources the better. Happy hunting!

Teacher Created Resources In case you didn’t already know, TCR has tons of free activities and lesson plans that you can search by subject area and grade level. There is also a daily, weekly, and monthly section with teaching tips, brain teasers, and writing prompts.

Teacher The name says it all! Included are lesson plans, worksheets, and all kinds of printables.

Squidoo has a section that lists companies that offer free products to teachers. has its own teacher freebie section.

Coupon Kim has a huge list of freebies for teachers.

Teachnology has a freebie section with a lot of resources.

Freaky Freddies has a page just for links to free teacher stuff.

Education World also has a freebie section.

My Savings has a free-sample directory for teachers.

Cool Freebie Links has its own teacher section.

Show and Tell

Here on our TCR blog, we tell you about our products and how to implement them. We also share our personal experiences in the classroom, and some of the goings on at our company. Today, we are going to show you what we’re all about!

We are located in sunny Southern California, where it rains about six days a year. That’s how we always manage to have sunny dispositions!

One of the first things that will greet you as you walk in the front door is TC Bear, our mascot. He dresses up for each holiday, and always looks very dapper.

He will keep you company while you wait, which is never very long. Also there to welcome you is Susan, one of our receptionists who is ready to assist you in whatever you need. All the phone arteries run through her, and we are so thankful for her help!

Another smiling face you will see is Mary Smith, the owner of TCR. She is always out and about, encouraging us and expressing her excitement for all the new projects in the works.

Mary loves the holidays, and plans wonderfully-themed parties. (My favorite is the Halloween lunch and costume parade.) Mary’s excitement for life and genuine love of her job are contagious!

Tal, our Human Resources guru, is always up to something. He plans sneak attacks with his camera throughout the year to pay tribute to special events happening at the company. He then puts together a year-end slide show to embarrass commemorate us at the holiday party.

Even though he looks like he’s frowning here, he is just concentrating on trying to capture me on camera. He always has a smile on his face!

Now that’s more like it!

One thing that surprised me when I first started working here was just how BIG our warehouses are. (Yes, we have two!) Here is Daniel moving a pallet of new products to store here until we ship them out to you.

Just two of our many warehouse staff are Sabrina and Lisa. They work tirelessly each day to ensure that you receive our products as soon as possible.

Thanks for coming along on the tour! Next time, I’ll post about some of the other staff members in our crew. You’ll get to “meet” members of our product department, as well as some of the people in customer service; you may have even personally talked with one of them!

Happy Halloween from TCR!

Halloween is our favorite holiday here at Teacher Created Resources. As many of us were previously teachers, we still remember the fun and whimsy of the annual Halloween parade held at our schools. We continue that tradition at TCR each year by having our own parade through the buildings, picking up fellow costumed employees as we go. The parade ends at the front of the main office, where we take a group picture.

We then proceed to the banquet hall next door, where we enjoy a wonderfully spooky potluck lunch.

Nowadays, many schools don’t observe or celebrate Halloween. Many adjustments have been made over the last few years, not only to respect the belief systems of our multicultural student populations, but also to accommodate the need for more time to spend on curriculum. What are some other changes that you have noticed in recent years that have affected how celebrations are viewed in schools? What do think these changes are driven by? Do you agree with the stand your district takes on celebrations in school?

Happy Fall Y’all – Easy Peasy Wrapped Pumpkin Craft

My favorite season of the year is Autumn. I love a bit of chill in the air, the leaves changing their glorious colors, the apple cider and pumpkin pie. My only problem? Southern California doesn’t have seasons. Well, not the kind that the rest of the country has. I live in the desert, and this past week it has still been over 100° each day. The only leaves changing are the ones that are turning brown from lack of rain. So what’s a girl to do?

Fake it.

When I taught in the classroom, I loved doing art activities and crafts with my students to mark the changing of seasons (since we couldn’t see them in our hot, dry climate.) Now, since I’m not in the classroom anymore, I decorate my cubicle each season. (Why yes, my coworkers do think I’m crazy.)

One project I’ve recently discovered is how to make fabric pumpkins. I did my own version of the Wrapped Pumpkin craft from Art for All Seasons. This is similar to the paper bag pumpkins we’ve all made, but much less messy and quite frankly, a whole lot cuter. I think it would be a fun activity to do with kids.Pumpkin Craft for Teachers

The only materials you need are the following:

• toilet paper or paper towel rolls
• plastic bags
• sticks
• fabric

You can find fabric quite inexpensively at places like Walmart, which has a $1/yard table. You can also ask for donations of fabric. Heck, if you want to use all recycled materials, use old shirts.

(I have raffia shown because I was thinking of using it for a bow; it is not necessary.)

Depending on how many rolls you can get, you might need to cut the toilet paper rolls in half to make smaller pumpkins. For a full-sized roll, I cut a square of fabric roughly 12 inches on each side. You could actually use less than this.

Pumpkin Craft from Teacher Created

Take a toilet paper roll and wrap about 3-4 plastic bags around it. (For smaller pumpkins, you only need one or two.)

Pumpkin Project for Fall

Now take the corners of the fabric and tuck them inside the top of the toilet paper roll.

Teacher Created Resources Fall Craft

Once all the corners are tucked in, fold in any fabric edges that may still be sticking out.

Wrapped Pumpkin Craft

Place a stick inside the roll to make a stem (and to keep the fabric in place). If you want it to be more secure, you can glue the fabric inside the roll.

Fall Pumpkins Project

I also added a piece of a plant to make it look like it was from a vine, but you can also use leaves or anything else to dress it up.

Fall Pumpkin Craft from Teacher Created Resources

On this pumpkin, I used rolled-up paper to make a stem.

Wrapped Pumpkin DIY

You’ll notice I also didn’t stick to a typical pumpkin color; don’t worry if you don’t have all orange fabric. Let the kids mix it up!

Fall Pumpkins Craft

These are a fun, colorful way to add a bit of fall to the classroom, as well as encouraging students to use recycled materials in a non-traditional way.  Happy Fall Y’all!

Wrapped pumpkins from Teacher Created resources Fall Pumpkin Craft