Ninjas are thrifty and we like to reuse as much as possible, so here are our top five ways to reuse your back to school gear and save some money at the same time.
Repurpose your old borders and signs. You probably have some of those old borders or signs that are looking tattered or faded. Try cutting out the little pictures (or better yet have some older students volunteer their time) to reuse. We use these little pictures for all kinds of things: game pieces, name tags, labels and my personal favourite-classroom sign out.
We made this set of magnets after cutting out an old (we-mean-donated-by-a-retiring-aunt-old) borders. We printed off a class list, cut out the names, laminated them and then attached magnets we purchased at Michael’s. When students were signing out of the room, them would put their magnet in the correctly labeled box (washroom, library, hallway). They could also be used for attendance or making groups. We’re so thrifty, we pasted new names on, took the magnets off, laminated them again and put the magnets back on. (Mr. Ninjas were not thrilled about cutting out the laminating on a Friday night until he heard how many dollars us ninjas were saving.)
Reuse those little cards or name tags year after year. Before writing on them, laminate them. Write using Sharpie pens. When you’ve finished the year, use dry erase marker to scribble over the words and wipe them off with a paper towel. We try to have students help with this task in the last few days of school so they are ready to go for the next year. With stubborn marks, try using a little nail polish remover that contains acetone (but
students shouldn’t help with that part).
Repurpose game pieces and old playing cards. Each year we buy a few decks of cards or games at garage sales for students to use during the winter months when it is too cold to play outside during recess breaks. They always lose a few of the pieces or cards. Keep old game pieces or dice in one container which students can borrow from when they are playing other games. Collect any old buttons, jewelry and small toys to use too. Reuse old playing cards by putting a blank label on the decorated back of the card and laminate them. Now you have a set of cards to use in your classroom as name tags, labels or new game pieces. If you are on a budget, but a set of interesting playing cards at a dollar store. You’ll have 52 name tags for about a dollar.
Beg, borrow and steal. (Well, sort of) Before you run off to your local teacher store or buy something online, check to see if one of your colleagues or if your school already has it. Send out a quick email to your staff and you’d be surprised how often some expensive resource if just sitting collecting dust on someone’s shelf. Others might lend you resources to look at so you know if it’s worth it to buy. We don’t mean steal in the literal sense (though it may save you some money). Spend a little time online (like Pinterest or blogs) to see how to save a dime. There are THOUSANDS of ideas out there.
Stop buying stuff. Uh, this one seems obvious (especially to the Mr. Ninjas), but how many of us have drawers full of stationary we haven’t even used? One of the ninjas may or may not have a drawer full of Sharpies. We do it because we all have a fascination with brightly coloured shiny objects, but it adds up. So instead, use what you have and you’ll be amazed how far you’ll make some of those items go.
But all jokes aside, I think the average Joe would be shocked to see what our classroom would look like if we didn’t spend our own out of pocket money to spruce it up. Maybe we should share that side too? What do you think? Share you best money saving tricks or thoughts about spending your own money on your classroom.