Best tricks for a new teacher to scavenge up free classroom materials?
March 14, 2012 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Best tricks for a new teacher to scavenge up free classroom materials?

I'm trying to help a new teacher who is a little discouraged at the lack of resources in his first school district. Do you have any good tricks on how to get free materials to use in a school? He is teaching both science and "technology" classes (computer aided drafting and metal shop, and he may teach wood shop next year). I think he's mainly looking for actual physical items, but I'm sure he'd love project information or lesson plans, too. I tried to tell him about how there are all sorts of free things that people will give to you if you tell them it is going to be used by students. Here are some of the examples I gave:

-Cardboard can be used to teach about load bearing and statics and dynamics, you can make furniture from it, do all kinds of projects.

-Wire hangers can be used for metal projects. Dedicated people even make medieval-style chain mail out of old hangers.

-Duct tape. Of course. He didn't know there was an annual contest to make a prom dress out of duct tape. The winners get college scholarships. In addition to the hundreds of other items you can make from duct tape.

-Wood pallets. It's wood, and people are happy to give them away.

-I read somewhere you can ask window installers for the old glass they remove, and some of them will give it to you and be glad they don't have to take it to the dump.

-Five gallon buckets from restaurants for biodiesel projects.

Can you help me come up with some more? I know the hive mind will have a ton of similar better suggestions?
posted by seasparrow to Education (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on his location, he may be able to take advantage of a Creative Reuse Center. A quick google (based on my knowledge of our local one) shows this list of ones in North America.

I'm not a teacher, but a crafter, and I'm amazed at the things people donate just to get them out of their house. Our local center does a lot of "teacher specials" that are pretty impressive - lots of materials for very little money. (Or often "someone please get this for free because we need to liquidate inventory.")
posted by librarianamy at 9:55 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

this is pretty much what freecycle was invented for- isn't it? in my experience good stuff goes really fast. However as someone whose used it to dispose of unwanted stuff, I would prioritize someone who said they were a teacher, and I'm sure others would too. Also, just getting to know local contractor/fabricator/landscaper type guys in the community could also lead to a ton of free stuff, as these people tend to have lots of scavenged materiel lying around that they would love to see off to a good home.
posted by genmonster at 10:01 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

--freecycle is great.

--craigslist's free postings often have this kind of stuff too.

--there's also for the bigger stuff.

--he could ask the school maintenance people to bring him anything broken they find, like chairs, desks, tables, etc. They also probably deal with lots of cardboard and other annoying but re-craftable things.

--post it on facebook, the Twitter, etc. and see what people have - all my science teacher colleagues do that when they're about to do lab experiments and need 2-litre bottles, old paint cans, make-up containers, etc.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not only can you scour the free postings on sites like Craigslist, Freecycle, etc., but you can also post your own "wanted" listing.

(Posting my poor graduate student studio furniture needs got me 2 free couches and 2 free tables all delivered to my studio in a trailer by the owner for absolutely no cost. I gave them a bottle of wine as a thanks, but they were just happy to see their stuff get used by people who needed it.)
posted by vegartanipla at 10:32 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

tell your friend to check out the NASA Educator Resource Center (the nearest to you appears to be in Greenbelt, MD)...Tons of free posters, 8x10 glossy photos of space, lesson plans, and various other printed materials (like surprisingly fascinating congressional proposal packets...sometimes stickers...older NASA publications, etc) ...I used to go to the one at City College in's like a library of free space stuff...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2012

for cardboard - local grocery stores usually have a dedicated recycle bin for boxes, although they will be flattened. I'm sue he could just talk to the manager, and ask if he can have the contents once a month, or as needed.
posted by timsteil at 11:56 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am no fan of this company but happy to relieve them of a few bucks: WalMart will usually donate one $50 gift card a year to community programs, schools and camps. Just go to the customer service counter and ask about gift cards for community programs.
posted by Miko at 9:19 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the great answers, they were inspiring!
posted by seasparrow at 12:19 PM on June 26, 2012

« Older How bad is my credit situation?   |   How do we convince our cat to stop pooping in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.