Penny Pinching for Education

We all know that it can be a financial struggle starting out as a teacher. The motivation for teaching does not come from the paycheck but rather the drive to help our students. It has been found that teachers spend an average of 740$ a year on their students (Karbowski, 2018). states that the average teacher in Ohio starts out at 44,000$. With tax rates being around 20-25%, the yearly take-home amounts to around 30,000$. This means the average starting teacher is spending 3% of their take-home salary on their students.

This can be due to the fact that recourses are not always readily provided by the schools, so this can leave teachers in a pinch trying to create the best opportunities for their students. I will go over some awesome ways to save money as an educator, while still providing your students with an abundance of valuable recourses.

This blog will hit on 5 Key resources I would use to provide an awesome learning experience for my students!

Online Experiments/Labs

This provides a zero out of pocket option for students to use and allows the ability for easy access. Students can go onto websites like, and conduct experiments over and over. These can be done through interactive simulations that they have plenty of options for every science topic. This allows students to test out different ideas without the waste or limitation of recourses.
A resource like this will allow students to be independent and creative in how they perform experimentation. This style of learning can erase the traditional “recipe” lab and give a fresh view of conducting an experiment in the lab. It lets students try different variables that might not be accessible in the traditional classroom.


This is another great FREE resource that many kids already know how to use! Many kids use this as a form of entertainment already, but did you know how effective it can be as a teaching tool? There are millions of videos on youtube, with thousands and thousands of videos that directly relate to any topic you are teaching about.

The easy thing about youtube is that it allows students a relaxed approach to learning. One that is not demanding but can be actually enjoyable. Another reason that youtube is a great option is the fact that it can assigned to do at any time. The videos can be paused and assigned for the students to watch at home.

Many famous channels on youtube like TedTalk and Crashcourse, are reputable sources of videos for your students. These channels are reliable and accurate in the information you present and allow for a different style of learning with a modern twist!

Tik Tok

The hottest app on the market right now that every kid is using can actually be a great resource in the classroom! There are many different educational pages on this platform that focus on providing science-based content for their viewers.

The thing I enjoy about this platform is that the videos are no longer than a minute long and are set up to be very engaging. This style of presentation is something that kids nowadays are used to. This will bring the engagement of the material to another level as kids will feel comfortable. It will also spark curiosity when they see a scientific phenomenon on a video but cant explain why it happened. This could lead to a class discussion breaking down the science in the video.

A fun way to set this up would be to have the students even make their own tik toks regarding a topic that they are going over in class. I did this in my student teaching and the class loved it. They were engaged and excited to personalize their own videos to share with the world. They could express themselves in their learning and share it with their friends.

A Walk in the Park!

Go outside and enjoy the fresh air!

It’s free!

Taking your students outside can break the boring routine of the classroom. It can shape a new learning experience as the students can transform how they view the outside world as you show them the science around them. Breaking down the walls of the classroom can help spark curisoty and inquiry of the natural world in students.

There often are many parks located near schools that are accessible within walking distance. For a biology class, this would be a great opportunity to see life and ecosystems in action. It would be a way for the students to observe nature for free without limitations.

There are many free science field trips offered through different programs. If a school is located in a city, reach out to different science museums or nature preserves to see if they have any opportunities for students. The Nature Conservatory offers free trips for students, allowing them to experience nature up close.

The ability to use the outdoors as a method of learning is abundant. Being creative allows you to open your mind and find opportunities that you haven’t seen before. Be open to what is around you!

Local Libraries

We think that libraries are outdated and a thing of the past, but did you know that they provide one of the best opportunities for teachers to obtain FREE resources to use in the classroom? They have thousands and thousands of books, media, and literature available for your use.

Bringing materials found in the library can add a fresh perspective to the content being taught in class. It can provide a new and interesting way to engage students in learning new things.

Another thing that many people don’t know is that libraries often hold guest speakers to do public speeches. Having your students attend these speeches will allow them to get professional input on certain topics. This also takes out the constraints of the classroom and allows them to engage within the community.

In Summary

There are many options available out there that new teachers can take advantage of to help their students grow. These require you to be creative and have fun with it. The energy you portray will be picked up on and transmitted through your students. We are in this business for our student’s intellectual growth, not our wallets.


  1. Hi Steve!
    I really liked that in your descriptions of each option, you included the cost information and also how you used TikTok in your student teaching experience so far, which was so cool to read about! It definitely increases your credibility and I liked hearing about a real world example with real students. How did this go when you used it in the classroom? What unit or what topic were the TikToks used for? I also liked that you mentioned going outdoors and going to the library, both of which are completely free and are accessible in the majority of communities.

    • Hey Rachel,
      Thanks for the honest reply. I appreciate your feedback and will take it into consideration. To answer your question, It went great when I used tik tok in the classroom. The students responded well and appreciated the freedom. I used it for anatomy and the students made a clay-mation with their models of bone remodeling. It was really cool to see the modeling of the bones happening through the animation. I want to definitely incorporate this into my classroom.

  2. Hi Steven!
    I think that the beginning of your post where you discussed how much money teachers make and then spend on their classrooms was really informative and also shocking. It really made me think about how important it is that teachers find quality, free or low cost activities for their classroom- like this is a real need! Thinking about having middle schoolers in field this semester, I think they would really enjoy using TikTok, especially making their own. If you did this in your class, would it be something you’d want to use at the end of every unit, or just once or twice for fun?

    • Hey Grace,
      Thanks for the feedback! I now also understand the importance of finding cheap recourses for the classroom. I think that its important as educators we incorporate technology into our learning strategies. I could see using the tik tok demonstration for every unit. This way they could have a way to look back at what they done and refresh their memories.

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