16 Classroom Supplies You Won’t Believe Teachers Have To Pay For

Each year, public school teachers spend upwards of $500 of their own wages on supplies for their classrooms.

BuzzFeed asked teachers which supplies they spend the most on out of pocket. Here’s what they had to say:

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1. Tissues. Gesundheit.

Your child’s teacher has saved your family from 100,000 colds without you ever knowing.

According to Arizona Elementary School teacher Andi Katz, the items she buys and burns through the most frequently are “tissues, antibacterial wipes, glue sticks and regular, crayons, tissues and wipes, markers, scissors, construction paper, tissues and wipes, lined paper, pencils, and did I say tissues and wipes?”

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2. Photocopies for worksheets, projects, and notices.

Take some initiative and consider rallying other parents to donate a few bucks each for a photo copy fund for the class before your kid’s teacher goes all Office Space.

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3. Hand soap. Also hand sanitizer.

Do you have any idea how much soap it takes to clean the hands of 30 kindergarten students? And let’s not even think about the high schoolers.

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4. Pencils. No. 2, and otherwise.

Because pencils are totally frivolous, right? Oh, wait… no they’re not.

According to secondary school teacher Kate Sluiter, “Everything in my classroom is out of pocket minus the $100 the district pays for.”

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5. Those Post-It easel board things.




Easels, poster boards, and large sticky pads are great for brainstorming and tracking progress. News flash: Schools don’t provide them.

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6. Erasers, because we learn from our mistakes.

It’s important that kids understand the origin of the backspace button. Erasers are a valuable classroom item that doubles as a history lesson.

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7. Glue. Glue Sticks. Paste. Anything glue-like.

Fox / Via

It’s not just a tasty snack for the smelly kid in class. It’s actually there for learning.

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8. Lined paper. And notebooks.

Teenagers use notebooks like nobody’s business. And teachers provide them.

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9. Snacks and prizes!

Keep your kiddo’s class in mind the next time you make a Costco run.

Brianna Chenevey, an elementary school teacher in Northern California, suggests “things like glue sticks, emergency snacks, a box of Kleenex, and hand soap/sanitizer” as donations. “You can never have too much of that stuff.”

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10. Construction paper.

Great for building little minds. Not free.

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11. Up-to-date maps and other visual aides.

Look around your child’s classroom. Large items like geopolitically correct maps and photographs of current world leaders often go without updating when budgets are short.

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12. Markers, and art supplies in general.

Art supplies do not come cheap, and teachers always appreciate a little bit of extra ink.

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13. Chemical-free cleaning wipes.

Killing germs good. Ingesting chemicals bad.

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14. Books. Books. Multiples of books.

Donating a single book to your kid’s classroom library is awesome. Donating a few of the same book could inspire a new reading group.

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15. Safety scissors.

Stocking enough scissors for all the students in a classroom can really cut into a teacher’s yearly budget.

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16. More tissues!


Your kid’s class just went through a box of tissues while you read this post.

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To see what kinds of donations teachers in your area are requesting and help the classroom of your choice, visit

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