George Lucas Educational Foundation

What do teachers buy out of their own pocket?

What do teachers buy out of their own pocket?

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Every year both my kids get teachers some cheesy gift for xmas. I thought it might be a better idea to make supply baskets as gifts. I know so many teachers buy stuff out of their own pocket, but I am looking for ideas as to what types of things.

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Laura Shifrin's picture
Laura Shifrin
Co-Founder of could very well be your answer. It's free and will not only provide what your teachers' needs are this year, but for many years to come. We believe that teacher funded classrooms need to be eliminated.

Pamela Dupre's picture

I buy items needed to conduct small experiments about once a month, I buy cleaning supplpies, extra chairbacks for students who can't afford them, treats for rewards, writing journals, all kinds of school supplies, books for students to read, and I even buy tickets for my entire class to attend a movie after school when it is about a book we have read. I used to keep my receipts for income tax purposes but I always exceed the amount so I quit keeping track.

Lydia Gonzalez's picture

What a wonderful idea! As a teacher, I often purchase school supplies (I buy when the sales come up to stretch my funds) to serve as a reward for a job well-done, contests in math, etc. If I had a wish list, it would be: dry-erase markers, packs of erasers (normally 50-100 in a package), notebook paper, sheet protectors (normally come 100 to a box), but anything is greatly appreciated by teachers.

Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Editor

Thank you, Bec, for starting this discussion string! I think teachers can never have enough boxes of tissues, or dry erase markers.

Also, teachers: if you are Title I school, always remember to go to the Title I office first before buying supplies. This is often a resource not tapped into enough. You can also check with your administrator to see if the IMA (instructional materials account) can cover any classroom library books, supplemental instructional materials, or in Pamela's case, "items needed to conduct small experiments."

Rebecca Alber

Missy's picture

A gift card to Walmart, Target, Kmart or another popular store would be great. I like to take pics of my students for scrapbooks or craft items. Picture developing is expensive. Also, I buy lots of school or craft supplies throughout the year at these stores

Laura Shifrin's picture
Laura Shifrin
Co-Founder of

Hi! Have you ever thought about what it might be like to have your very own classroom fundraiser that you can include your parents in? It's called
It is free and you can monitor your results right online.
We donate back 15% of every order placed to your classroom, no matter what is purchased. Including educationsla toys and games, child products, school organizational items and our most popular products, remanufactured inks and toners. Great for the environment, we donate back on everything, no ecxeptions, no little print. Hope this helps. Take Care!!

Mary Ellen Bossack's picture
Mary Ellen Bossack
Elementary Counselor

We did a survey of our staff and found that teachers spend $200 and up to $3000 per year on snacks, rewards, music rights, materials for went on and on.

Ken Cornett's picture
Ken Cornett
Retired: Grades 4 to 12, specializing in curriculum development

I believe Teachers' just like to buy things as a reward for their students - but if you approach the administration, let them know what you have in mind, I would hope they would put it on their budget and have a set amount for all classrooms for that specific purpose.
I know a high school music teacher raised money to buy sheet music for his classroom. The administration finally found out about it and told him to put it on a requisition form and the budget will look after it.

If you want some free Addition Material, like 270+ pages of instructions, over 90+ lessons, 28 audio files and flash card designs, go to and get the free download.

Cheri's picture
Teacher by Day; Discount Broker by Night @

This is a great idea. I think that buying a teacher a gift certificate to Target or Walmart is a great way to help her buy her supplies too. That way he/she can buy things that tailor to his/her needs.

Mary Kate Land's picture
Mary Kate Land
Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

I feel so priveleged that I get to spend my classroom cash on things like paperback books (lotsa tricks to finding 'em cheap, but oh, the storage!), games, puzzles, art supplies, and craft materials (yarn, embroidery floss, etc.).

Gift certificates are great! Art/craft supply places like JoAnn's and Michael's, or even teacher supply stores offer gift cards these days.


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