We teachers want our classrooms to be centers of comfort, education, and inspiration. Some of us spend so much that those delightful classrooms mean nightmares for our bank accounts.
My classroom needed an overhaul before the fall, so at the beginning of the summer, I gave myself a decoration challenge. My goal was to spend less than $25 creating a beautiful, lovely environment for my students and me. This week, I made it happen, with plenty of help and support from friends and a few strangers.
Here’s how I did it.
- Open Call. I posted a letter on Facebook explaining my self-challenge, and explicitly asking for specific items. I was pleasantly surprised to receive messages from teacher and non-teacher friends offering encouragement (and Target gift cards) as well as some of my specific requests like lamps, baskets, and milk crates.
Total Spent: $0 (I’m not counting the gas I used to pick up anything!)
Supplies: Organizing plastic caddies in assorted colors, one lamp, rolling drawer cart
Target purchases from gift cards: Two lamps, milk crates, curtain tension rods, Chinese lanterns (on clearance after 4th of July)
- Thrift Stores. I set aside a day to visit thrift stores, searching for curtains, lamps, pillows, any anything else to create a comforting, home-like feeling. If you want to do the same, be sure to look on the store websites for 50% off sales—they’re pretty frequent!
Total Spent: $3
Supplies: One lamp, 3 sets of blue curtains, one basket
- DIY Projects. Lots of teachers decorate their classrooms with ribbon curtains and pom-poms, but store-bought versions of those beautiful items are a little out of my price range. But after a quick Google search for “making your own tissue pom-poms”, I found a video tutorial to get me started. I also searched “making ribbon curtains” and discovered lots of crafty people using fabric remnants to make the curtains. I raided my closet for unwanted clothing to cut up that matched my blue and green color scheme. After a trip to Target for tissue paper and Jo Anne’s for fabric remnants, plus a few hours of my time, I had unique pom-poms and curtains that I like even more than those I chose not to buy.
Total Spent: $13
Supplies: Curtains, pom-poms
- Teachers Pay Teachers. I discovered some wonderful classroom decoration packets that can be printed, cutout, laminated, and placed around the classroom. I used $8 of my PayPal credit from my own TpT store earnings to purchase an owl classroom decoration bundle.
Total Spent: $4 ($8 PayPal credit used, so I’ll count half of that toward my total)
Supplies: Center banners, welcome banner, behavior chart, center rotations, book bin labels, name tags, posters, bulletin board material
- Household clean-out. I took a little shopping spree around my house looking for anything we weren’t regularly using or that needed to go into my classroom instead of my bedroom. The cool thing is that no one really minded and my kids didn’t even notice. And the price was perfect.
Total Spent: $0
Supplies: Two lamps, two plants, one chair, two pillows, wall décor
The grand total for all my out of pocket purchases was $20, plus a little time, effort, and gas. I also used but
cher paper and border from my school workroom to create the backgrounds for my bulletin boards.
Now my classroom is a place where I can enjoy spending 8 to10 hours of my day. I didn’t break my bank account, and I reminded myself that I can overcome any challenge. Create your own beautiful thrifty classroom, too. After all, you’re a teacher—you can do anything!