I think art teachers have always been pretty good about reusing materials in the art room, keeping thrifty, showing our students that art can be made from ANYTHING. I have seen so much more lately about green items. Not just in the classroom, but from friends making their own laundry detergent, even. It seems that lately, it isn't as much about saving the environment as it is about being strapped for cash. I even read about one school who was going green by no longer printing worksheets for homework. They were going to let the parents print the worksheets, instead. Ha!
It makes me think of trying to explain to my students that we shouldn't throw away paper that had a small mark on it, because they were made from trees. "We need to save the trees!" The kids looked at me like I had a tree growing out of my head. Then, I said, "we don't have enough money to buy more paper!" In unison, my kids said, "OOOOOOHHH." Now I was speaking their language.
I've always been fairly thrifty in the classroom. I've had many years of very small budgets. This year, the pinch is pretty bad. The order that I placed in our school system's warehouse back in the middle of August has not been filled. I finally received a little bit of construction paper last week. I'm feeling a bit desperate for tempera paint and white drawing paper, though. The other items that have been purchased for my room have come from my sad paycheck. I bought crayons, markers, pencils, and oil pastels. Out are the long range plans at this point. We should be painting by now, but I can't teach color theory without yellow.
In the spirit of full disclosure, two of my projects have been funded this past month from donorschoose.org. If you are feeling the pinch, and don't know about this program, check out their website (I don't work for them, free publicity!) To help fund one of the projects, I was even willing to make 4 videos of myself talking about teaching. Some areas have foundations that match donations. I am fortunate to live in a city where we have a wonderful foundation that supports education by matching half of all projects in high poverty schools. It makes a huge difference to only need to find half of the funding. These were my first two projects through donorschoose and I am hooked! One of my projects was for linoleum block printing for 6th graders and the other was for TEMPERA paint! My plan was for this to be in addition to my order through the school system, but this may be all of the paint that I get. Hoping it comes in soon.
So, until I receive my paint order, I'm looking for lessons that can use what we already have. Collage with fabric and wallpaper samples? Somehow I have a ton of manila paper. What do you do with that? Thinking I am going to collage on it. Can we do printmaking on white copy paper? I have a lot of it, too! What are you doing to save money in your classroom? Are you having more problems with budgets this year, too?
A few things I am doing:
- GOOSE paper (I read this on someone's blog last year, so I would be happy to give credit if someone knows where.) Goose paper is paper that is Good On One Side. I keep pulling paper out of the recycling bins around school. We use this for free draw for fast finishers.
- Bottle caps- I am jumping on the bandwagon here, but if I can get them for free, let's do it.
- Cups-I did this last year, too. We are going to weave on recycled cups.
- Milk jugs- another repeat from previous years, masks made from 1/2 of a milk jug, with paper mache, again recycling newspaper.
- Magazines- Obvious one here, collage. I went to the recycling center last year and pulled out newspaper and magazines. Fortunately, I went on a day that they were pretty full, so I didn't have to get INTO the dumpster.
- Mat board-Mat scraps from a frame shop. This is what we will probably be using for painting. Guess I'll gesso ahead of time? Do you think that is necessary?