Tips for finding resources for your preschool classroom

I recently had the privilege of taking part in the Bam Radio Show “Teacher-Funded School Supplies: Reducing the Burden Without Harming Kids”  with Rae Pica, Terry Heick and Cynthia Henton. The premise of the show was founded on the fact that almost all teachers use their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms. The discussion on the Bam Radio show provides insightful ideas on where schools (and teachers) can find classroom resources for less cost or for free. You will want to visit the Bam Radio show to listen to the full conversation but in the meantime, I thought I would highlight a few ideas for finding resources that I have personal experience with over the past five years…

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

When I start out a school year, I have a budget set aside for purchasing resources like paint, construction paper, glue, and any other resources that I feel like are a must have in my classroom. For the rest of the school year, I look for resources that will either be low cost or free. Here are some tips from the show and my own experience for finding these kinds of resources…

Virtual Community Garage Sales

Garage sales are certainly a great place to find good deals but one of my favorite places to keep an eye out for toys, furniture, books, and other types of materials is on Facebook. In my county there must be 20 or more different Facebook groups set up for members of our community to sell items to one another. It is similar to a garage sale only everything is managed online. The seller posts a photo of something he or she wishes to sell along with a price and folks respond if they are interested in buying it by leaving a comment.  Then arrangements are made from there between the buyer and the seller.   As a general rule, in a community site like this one, you have to know someone else in the community to get added to the group. The groups are secret or closed so that folks can monitor who joins the group with the goal of keeping it only open to the members of that particular community.  There are teacher markets where teachers sell items to each other for a fraction of the original cost and lots of parents also join in and sell items. Most items are in very good condition.  Everything from lesson plan books, children’s books, art easels, children’s chairs and tables, blocks, games, puzzles, bulletin board pieces, and more are sold in these groups so I check them often…

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool


One of my favorite finds on the Community Market was this telephone booth that I gave a whopping $12 for. Other virtual garage sale type spots include Ebay or Craigslist although I honestly haven’t ever shopped either one of those but still, they might be worth checking out. Just remember that with any virtual buying and selling, you need to be smart about it, use good judgement, and stay safe…

Tips for Finding Resources in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool


I stop by our local Goodwill store every so often with a list of things I am collecting or looking for. Last year, I was on a mission to purchase light weight tin pots and pans for my classroom. Other finds I have picked up at Goodwill include unusual pieces of furniture, children’s books, wooden trays, old telephones, and old records…

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

My students enjoy listening to the records I pick up from Goodwill.  Some of the records are children’s stories or songs while others are classical music or musicals…

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Parent Donations

I recently had a teacher ask me if it was “okay” to ask parents to donate items to preschool. In my mind, asking parents to help donate items to preschool is certainly okay but you do want to keep in mind the following….

  • Keep the process of donating items fun for parents rather than something they feel pressured or obligated to do.
  • Be clear about what kinds of things you are looking for. Do you need shoe box lids, bottle caps, egg cartons, paper towel tubes, or other?  Then put a general note up or send out an email letting parents know what you are collecting, what you plan to do with your collection (if you know), how many you are looking for or how long you plan to collect the requested items. The more you explain what you need and why you need it, the better parents will be at saving and donating the right type of things for your class.
  • Be clear about what you can or cannot accept as parents may truly not know the difference. For example, if you tell the parents you are looking for toy donations you may get lots of toys like stuffed animals, battery operated toys without the batteries, and so on. You don’t want to become the Goodwill drop off center so be clear about what you can or can’t use in your classroom.
  • If you are going to accept donations then find a way to actually use them and then let parents know about it so they will see that you appreciate their donations and are putting them to good use.

Finally, be open to parents who come up with fun ideas and would like to donate the items needed for their idea. Last year, one of my parents donated an amazing butterfly kit which I wrote about here. I adapted my “lesson plans” so that the kids and I could enjoy the process of observing the life cycle of a butterfly. I have had other parents donate some pretty amazing supplies for both indoor and outdoor explorations but my parents are very good about making sure what they donate will really be a good fit for our classroom and teaching philosophy…

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Crowd Funding

One way to get enough funds together for a specific supply or project in your classroom is to set up a classroom kick-starter project. Want to learn more about the power of crowd funding or Kickstarting a classroom project campaign? Check out DonorsChoose.Org!

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

DIY for the Classroom

One of my favorite ways to add resources to the classroom is through Do It Yourself projects(DIY). Pinterest is FULL Of DIY projects you can use for the classroom!

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Repurposing for the Classroom

I also love repurposing/upcycling resources the children and I have saved throughout the school year to use for art or games or math or science…

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Community Resources

And last but certainly not least is to tap into your local community resources. Resources that have been donated to me include pizza boxes from Pizza King, Walgreens and Hallmark have saved envelopes and paper tubes for me. And I love going down to our local recycle collection center to find shoe boxes, cardboard boxes, and other recycled goodies like these large cardboard spools!

Tips for Finding Resources for the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Bam Radio Show

Now don’t forget to hop over and listen to the Bam Radio Show for more tips on this topic!!  Just click here to listen on the Bam Radio Educator’s Channel or here to listen on ITunes!

Tips for finding Resources for the Preschool Classroom by Teach Preschool

Teacher-Funded School Supplies: Reducing the Burden Without Harming Kids Rae Pica with Terry Heick, Cynthia Henton, Deborah Stewart


Available on Amazon

By |2017-03-29T11:40:10+00:00August 9th, 2014|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Donna August 9, 2014 at 7:33 am - Reply

    Hi Deborah,
    Just wondering…are you planning to do the “postcard exchange” again this year? My preschoolers enjoy hearing about what preschoolers do across the country (and the world).
    Love your blog and book !!

  2. eileen August 9, 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    All great ideas. One other I might add is the 99 cents stores, ubiquitous in New York city. Great for picking up “tools” like garlic press, lemon squeezer, duct tape, contact paper and party favors. I could go on and on :))

  3. Michelle Hennessey August 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah,

    I am anxiously waiting for your Teach Preschool postcard exchange. Hopefully, you are planning to do it this year!! (fingers crossed). I don’t want to miss it.

  4. Cheryl August 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I am so excited that has fully funded new carpets for my classroom. The old ones got ruined in a flood with sewer water. It was an anonymous donor. And the price was about $785.00 dollars!, amazing!

  5. LaQuetha August 23, 2014 at 5:52 am - Reply

    Thanks for all the ideas

  6. Kelli P August 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    If you do a postcard exchange we would love to be a part of it here in OHIO

  7. Bumblebees R Us Day Care Center August 29, 2014 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Thanks for all these wonderful ideas. Resources for preschools can come from places that we least expect. Most of the time, there are even ordinary items that can encourage learning among children. We just have to be creative in using the usual stuffs that we see. Glad you shared this!

  8. Dianna Tygard August 31, 2014 at 9:54 am - Reply


    Love your blog! Thanks for sharing lots of great tips…I’m a new preschool teacher in Utah. Had a question…what are your math bags all about?

    Have a great year!


  9. Faye September 2, 2014 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Being a licensed Family Child Care Provider who pays for everything out of my pocket, I can definitely appreciate all of the tips that you shared. My hubby goes used to go nuts with all of the items I saved for repurposing, but now he gets it and asks if I could use something before throwing it away. We have an organization here (Cincinnati, Ohio) called Crayons to Computers, where teachers can go and shop for free for items they need for their classroom. Unfortunately, family providers are not included as teachers; we can’t even take advantage of the volunteering program to shop. I also use in my community. This is a great site to find things. I am still kicking myself for giving away a “like new” double stainless steel sink on the site before seeing a photo of one in use in a backyard daycare set up 🙂 Thanks for the tips, Deborah!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2014 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      Oh, I have walked away from so many things that I still kick myself for! My hubby asks me if I need things saved too! So funny!! I am surprised that Crayons to Computers won’t let you shop there. I think you should ask them to review their policy on that one!!

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok