Monday, February 20, 2012

I need supplies!

I know I can't speak for all art teachers, but I am pretty sure that I am not the only one of us who is having a difficult time getting supplies this year. Things have been very tight at my school this year, for reasons which I don't even understand and wouldn't go into here, anyway. I have experienced money shortages before but this has been rougher. I felt pretty desperate towards the beginning of the semester. While it has been quite a bit more work, I have been able to get the supplies I needed for my classroom.
  • I realize that many of you are already familiar with this site. If you are struggling with supplies, become familiar. Come up with a project, write it up, tell how much you need the supplies. For most projects, you have to order the supplies through partner companies, but many major art supply companies participate. There are certain requirements that you have to follow once you get the supplies, like uploading photos and writing thank-you notes. What a great experience for the students to be thankful, though! These projects can get funded quickly or could take a few months. I am fortunate to live in a county where different foundations will match donations to Title one schools. Donorschoose also has family and friends weeks where they match all donations given  by your family who enter a special code. One of those weeks is coming up in March! This is the first year I've used this site, but I've had four different projects funded. Some of the projects I had funded were for specific items, while others were for general items that I just knew we needed. 
  • Art Room Aid I hadn't heard of this program until this year, but I  have seen it heavily advertised now. This is very familiar to donorschoose with asking for art supplies for specific projects, though all supplies are from Dick Blick. I don't think as many donors are familiar with art room aid, so I am not sure that projects are funded as often or as quickly. The best thing about Art Room Aid is that you can spend donations immediately, rather than waiting for full funding. If someone donates $50, you can spend it on part of the project. I have one that was only partially funded, but I got the paper I needed right away. This works really well for general art supplies. There are no requirements after you get the funding, which felt a little bit strange to me. 
  • Grants  Honestly, there are grants all over for different reasons. If you see a grant opportunity, find a project that fits those requirements. You won't get all of them, but every little bit helps. While so many of our supplies are expendable, you might be able to get a grant that will cover permanent art items as well. If you are asking for items for a painting project, ask for paint brushes as well or a clay slab roller, or whatever. 
  • School Partners These other things I would do on my own, but for this one, I would find out who is your contact for your school's business partners. You might be able to get items from them as well. So far this year, one of our partners asked what I wanted. I made a list, and got a gift certificate for some of the supplies.
  • Free Stuff  I am taking ANYTHING that people are willing to donate. Many frame shops will give you the centers of mats after they are cut. Fabric shops will sometimes give you the cardboard that they wrap their fabric around. Have your school save bottle caps for those murals you've seen everywhere. Jar lids, milk cartons, paper towel rolls are all great armature items for paper mache or other sculpture items. GOOSE paper-I saw this on someone else's blog, but don't remember to give credit. GOOSE paper is paper that is Good On One Side. All of our free drawings are done on GOOSE paper. Good to reuse the paper and teach the kids responsibility. I am constantly going through our recycling bins at school for goose paper, newspaper, magazines. Yes, I end up being a bit of a packrat, but when you can't get supplies from a catalog, and it doesn't look good for later, I am going to save pretty much anything that I might be able to use later. Crappy old printing paper, yep. Faded construction paper, oh yeah. Fabric scraps, uh huh. 
If you are struggling with supplies, I get it. It is rough. Hopefully, some of these tips have helped. 

1 comment:

  1. I am feeling the same crunch for supplies as you are! I am from NJ and the past few years have been very hard on our school budgets. I have taken everything and anything people were willing to give me that they did not want anymore! I am just finishing up the colored paper a good friend and fellow teacher gave me the year she retired. I have just about exhausted any and all reserves I have and are designing projects around what supplies and paint colors I have left! I have used Donorschoose and was able to get two very needed drying racks through them this Fall. I currently have another project that is waiting to be fully funded. Our PTO is wonderful and I plan on asking them for some things this Spring when they ask for teacher supply requests. The kids have been very good ( for the most part ) at not wasting the supplies. The first year was a little rough but they get it now. I have surprised myself even at how much we can get done with so little. Hang in there! :)


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