My Classroom Budget is Dwindling So Quickly!

How Can I Possibly Afford to Do Art for Purim, Pesah and Shavuot?!?

by Laurie Bellet

1. Watch those sales and use supplies carefully. Many craft stores have storewide sales in summer and in winter. This is your opportunity to purchase items you know you will use throughout the year, at significant discounts. Keep your eyes out each week for special items at 50% off and use store coupons for specific items that are too expensive to consider otherwise. Limit student use of luxurious supplies (select one sparkling gem; use 3 stickers; add some final gold highlights). Your students of every age will come to value your art treasures.

2. Use the leftovers from past projects. Each student needn’t be doing the same project. Use those leftover project kits from years past to offer an Art Menu when students can select the project they wish to do. Have a central cabinet within your school where teachers can place the project leftovers for others to utilize. A “craft buffet” is a wonderful addition to any class party. Store and label your supplies carefully so that you have an immediate home for those few extra wiggly eyes or foam shapes.

3. Let folks know well before you need a specific item. Send home flyers and post “want ads” when you know there is are items you will surely need. (i.e., cloth napkins for hallah covers; fabric crayons for kippot; greeting cards and wrapping paper for collage)

4. Shop surplus and creative re-use. These outlets are a treasure trove of materials such as heavy weight mat boards. You will have to stretch your imagination at first but soon you will be a pro. In addition to the list on the following page, check out for the American Science and Surplus catalog; an absolute must for tzedakah boxes. Don’t forget your neighborhood “dollar” store. Check out websites such as for inspiration on how to use recycled materials in your art program. Don’t forget to ask your neighborhood wallpaper retailer for outdated books and check in with your local learning or craft store to see if they will donate the extras from their in-store art workshops.

5. Have an “Art Parts” box. Most families have vast collections of leftover art supplies from past craft purchases. Let parents know that you have an “Art Parts” box where they can drop off those extra paints, wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, etc. Collect fabric scraps and sewing notions. You will be amazed at the quality of the materials you will receive! If you do not know how to incorporate a certain craft item, don’t fret. Your students are bound to come up with ideas you have never considered.

Note: Be alert to the sensitivities of your organization when using recycled materials. Many schools prefer that you not use toilet paper tubes. Do not use the lids from peanut butter jars (even if they have been through the dishwasher) if you are working in a “peanut-free” environment.