As with life on the home front, going green in the classroom without busting your annual consumables budget can require a fair amount of ingenuity. Following are a few ideas to make it happen without breaking the bank.
Laminated reinforcement charts.
Teachers from pre-school through high school use these little beauties and they cost money every year. However, they don’t have to cost nearly as much if you can find a way to get by with one. Simply attach one to the inside of your classroom door or on the wall section of your choice. Laminate directly to the surface with smooth – surface clear contact paper. Use a grease pencil or erasable marker to check off the boxes by each student’s name when necessary. When the chart is full, erase and start over. Cheap and simple. Wa. Hoo. No stickers, no quarterly replacement cost, and the last time I checked, literally cheaper than dirt. High school teachers and educators of intermediate level grades with more than one class of students each year will find this an even bigger money saver. Picture one to two rows of wall laminated charts to keep you streamlined and on top of things all year long.
Egg carton scissor stand.
For an inexpensive and eco-friendly place to store your class set of student scissors, consider a pair of recycled cardboard egg cartons. Simply push each pair of children’s scissors (tips down) through an individual section of a carton. The individual sizes of safety scissors for the smaller grades will be easily supported by the depth of the cartons. I tried this when all of my metal scissor holders kept rusting during a multi-year teaching stint in Micronesia. It worked like a charm!
The tried and true construction paper scrap box.
It may be old fashioned, but the value of this classroom classic bears repeating. If you like to do puppet shows, collages, paper mosaics, file folder book jackets for student stories, or any other type of classroom project requiring small pieces of colored paper, these scrap collections come in super handy. A real teacher budget saver that helps save the environment as well.
Get back to the garden.
Consider using the natural world as a break from the traditional learning environment. Sketching buddy portraits outdoors, story time under the tree, exploring soil erosion with an outdoor science activity, etc. Learners of all ages can find inspiration in nature, and if it saves some classroom electricity in the meantime, isn’t that a good thing?
Explore eco-friendly consumable products that come with coupons.
Think dish soap for washing up after student art projects, chlorine-free tissues and paper towels, and for the older grades emergency tampons and pads for girls caught unaware for their first menstrual cycle.
Consider the incidentals.
By this I mean the things that easily integrate into your current classroom routine. For example, are you planning a field trip that could easily include another class from the same grade level? Why send the bus twice? Other ideas would be printing on both sides of the paper for student handouts, turning off the lights when not in the classroom, and switching from stickers to rubber stamp reinforcement.
This concludes what I hope will be just one of many posts on going green in the classroom. Got a super idea on the subject? I hope you’ll share.
Flickr Photo Credit: Woodley Wonder Works