TeacherFunder

Picking up supplies for the classroom can be an enjoyable or stressful experience, depending on how long you’ve left it before the new term starts. But for any teacher, taking the time to get inspired and find goodies that are the perfect fit for your classroom can make all the difference. Especially when it comes to kitting out a fresh room as a new teacher, or spring-cleaning those old bits of furniture and equipment out of your life.

For teachers in the USA, there are three holy grail stores that we all beeline towards when it comes to getting together all of those classroom essentials.

Experts agree that classroom design can make all the difference to learning, so why not make your class the best it can be? But which is the best option for your in-school needs, and what store is the best pick for your budget? It all depends on what you’re looking for, of course, but here are just a few options to get you started, inspired by the fantastic Bridget over at The Lettered Classroom.

Ikea

The mecca of flat-pack furniture, every one of us at some point have decked out our homes with Billy bookcases or Lack coffee tables – it’s practically tradition for any student, after all. But Ikea isn’t just an excellent place to shop for homeowners. It also provides tons of inspiration for teachers, with plenty of options for the classroom, from desks to drawers and everything else in-between.

Bright, cheap, and often surprisingly hard-wearing, Ikea provides plenty of basics to deck out any classroom. From cheap low tables ideal for drawing or reading time, to ample storage for anything from books to toys, cubbies to paperwork, if you use your imagination there’s plenty Ikea can provide. Their carts, in particular, is a popular choice for teachers everywhere. This is especially true with the wealth of options out there for upcycling Ikea furniture, allowing you to customize your chosen pieces with classroom-appropriate decals, drawer knobs and anything else in-between.

Ikea Pros

  • Cheap, easy to transport and quick to put together – what’s not to like?
  • Infinitely customizable, allowing you to make your classroom your own
  • Plenty of options and combinations to make the most use out of your Ikea gear

Ikea Cons

  • Less durable than purpose-built classroom furniture; make use of those wall screws and brackets to prevent accidents
  • Less focus on the little details, Ikea is better for big pieces but not so good for those extra touches
  • Everyone has it, making it more difficult for your classroom to stand out

Target

If you’ve entered a Target anytime during adulthood, you know that’s it’s physically impossible to leave with just one item. When it comes to decking out your classroom, however, Target falls in your favor; with plenty of quirky, cute and kid-friendly options that are infinitely ideal for use in the average classroom or even outside in the playground.

Especially in the summer months, Target is the ideal place to source group games, outdoor activities, and even in-class resources that can be used year-round. Sand and water pits, for example, as well as soft floor tiles can be easy to find in the outdoor and exercise sections of Target respectively. Not to mention the vast amount of toys and stationery in stock in your average store; teacher paradise.

Target Pros

  • Lots of bits and pieces that soon as up to an exciting and educational classroom
  • With a little creativity, outdoor toys and exercise items can be transformed into classroom staples
  • Excellent prices and plenty of choices to help make your classroom unique

Target Cons

  • Less in the way of affordable and suitable furniture items for your classroom
  • What you get can be a grab-bag of different items that require time and investment to transform
  • Low prices mean less durability, what’s suited for individual use might not stand up to long-term play with 30+ students

Michaels

Michaels is the perfect place to get crafty. From hot glue guns to pom-poms, paints to all the crafting accessories you need, this store is heaven for the more creative teachers that love to go above and beyond with their art supplies. Offering everything needed to fully-stock your arts and crafts closet for the full year, Michaels should be your final stop on the list to get all those little bits and pieces you forgot all about.

Not only is this store excellent for consumable resources, but it’s also an excellent place to invest in storage and containers for all those felt-tip pens, paints, paper, and brushes. Robust, plastic storage is one of the things these stores do well, offering the perfect way for teachers to organize and keep clean even the messiest supplies.

Michaels Pros

  • For crafty supplies and art products, there’s no better place to be
  • Affordable, consistently available and suitable for children – all perfect for the classroom
  • Practical storage available for storing all those new supplies

Michaels Cons

  • Only suitable for art-centric classrooms; you’ll need to go elsewhere for everything else
  • Not quite as affordable as cheaper craft stores, but much higher quality
  • Some products may be more suitable to adult crafters than children or classrooms

So, there you have it – the ultimate line-up. To make the most of your budget, we suggest going for a little from each; and you’ll soon have the fully stocked classroom of your dreams ready to rock for the new term. What class resources can you not do without? Let us know in the comments below.