I recently shared a post about the importance of STEAM education in the classroom. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. More and more educators are pointing to the need to integrate the arts with lessons as a way to enhance student learning. When I taught in an elementary school I often used art activities as a way to help students better understand concepts. I doubt I need to convince anyone reading this that adding arts to the classroom will help students learn, but budgeting may be a concern. Here are a few tips to help you spread your classroom budget further for STEAM learning activities.
Budgeting for STEAM Learning
Ask for Donations
You probably already have a wish list for your classroom. Don’t forget to add art supplies to your requests! Pom poms, craft sticks, and paint are some of the basics that can be used for a variety of STEAM learning activities. You can also make a list of common household items that you would like parents to collect for you during the school year. This type of “ask” is one that families are often happy to help with. Washed Styrofoam trays from the grocery store, egg cartons, paper towel tubes, and other recyclables are no-cost supplies that can be upcycled in a variety of ways for different STEAM activities.
Buy in Bulk
If your classroom or department has an art budget, buying in bulk is the best way to get the most bang for your buck. The S.T.E.A.M catalog from Darice is packed with supplies and project ideas to supplement your curriculum with. You can stretch your limited budget further by ordering high quality supplies in bulk to use in your classroom or grade level.
Apply for Grants
There are a variety of grants available to help you find money for STEAM learning activities for your classroom. Teacher Geek has a list of grants available by state. You can see their interactive map here. Click on your state to learn more about the grants available where you live.
There are also federal grants that you can apply for to help stretch your STEAM budget. Some options are:
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers: providing funding for after school enrichment programs in low income communities.
- Ecolab Regional Grants: funding is available for a variety of education centered subjects, including the arts
- National Endowment for the Arts: grants are available to ensure that “every student is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education”.
- Crayola Grant Program: apply to be considered for a grant to help build your school’s creative capacity.
Enter Contests and Sweepstakes
Many of your favorite teacher sites, creative blogs, and brand sites offer contests and sweepstakes that are geared towards teachers or groups that work with children.
- We Are Teachers maintains a current list of giveaways for educators to enter for a chance to win a variety of products, including art supplies.
- Penniless Teacher shares sweepstakes and giveaways on her site.
- Help A Teacher shares giveaways and also promotes teacher’s wish lists to the public.
Create an Amazon WishList
If you have an account on Amazon you can create a classroom wish list. This list makes it easy for parents and friends to purchase supplies to donate to your classroom or school. Find the items you need in the marketplace, add them to your list, then share the link. People who want to contribute can easily click on the item, order it, and even have it sent directly to you or your school if you give that option. Don’t forget that you can add your favorite Darice products to your wish list on Amazon!
What are some of your favorite ways to stretch your classroom budget for art activities?