86 Genius Teaching Hacks To Try in Your Classroom

Some of these will make your day so much easier!

Examples of teacher hacks leaderboard and paint chip synonyms
We Are Teachers

Whether it’s a genius repurposing of an everyday item, another dollar-store find, or a perfectly affordable way to organize your classroom, there’s nothing like proven teacher hacks to save you time and money. These are our favorite teacher hacks to help you organize, clean, and maximize learning.

1. Store paint in old soap dispensers

Save those old soap and hand sanitizer dispensers and fill them with paint. Instead of pouring paint, students can use the pump to get the paint they need. Result: less mess after art time.

2. Try out a mystery reward

Incentivize students to follow the rules with mystery rewards. Write rewards on the board, then put Post-its with the behaviors you want to see over the rewards. So, the expectation “line up quietly” may cover the reward “10 extra minutes of recess.”

3. Save those book jackets

R E A D letters decorated in book covers above a book shelf
Morgan M., grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers Helpline

How awesome is this READ sign made from book jackets? Save book jackets (or even print out book covers) to decorate your classroom.

4. Socks for markers and erasers

whiteboard with writing and a sock for erasing
Lindsay W., grade 1 teacher via We Are Teachers Helpline

Socks make the perfect pocket to store students’ dry-erase markers! Plus, they are such an inexpensive solution for erasers. Lindsay W. shared that students “just slip the sock on their non-dominant hand, complete independent work, and using a sock makes erasing easy, useful, and a sufficient way to re-use a clothing item that typically loses its match anyway! Plus, students LOVE it—especially if they receive one of my own children’s fun socks!”

5. Store a secret stash


Store your snacks, or anything you don’t want students to use, in a bin labeled “extra tape.”

6. Be ready for early finishers

two crack the code worksheets
We Are Teachers

Be ready for students who finish early with STEM boxes or secret code worksheets. The key is to store additional work in a place where students can easily access them so you don’t have to hear “I’m bored!”

7. Two words: color coding

boxes color coded for crayons
Morgan M., grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

It’s so simple but oh-so genius at the same time. Color-code everything from crayon bins to phone-charging stations to student files.

8. A “Do Not Disturb” light switch

LED puck lights in red, green and blue with remote and batteries.

For when you are working with small groups or helping an individual student, post a picture of a light switch that is on if you’re available and off if you’re not. You can also use an inexpensive LED puck light. Set the color to green when you’re available and red when you’re busy.

Buy it: LED Puck Lights

9. Use a star student instead of classroom jobs

Doling out a variety of classroom jobs can be so time-consuming. Try using a star student instead. Just pick one student each day who will be the helper for all your little classroom jobs.

10. Create ready-to-go supplies

markers and pencils in individual containers in a draw for a classroom hack
April Pickett, grade 5 teacher via We Are Teachers

Organization is paramount. Use little bins to organize markers, pencils, and other school supplies. They’re ready to go when you need them, and you can quickly see what supplies haven’t made it back to you.

11. Print on pencils for encouragement

Printing on Pencils Is Fun, Magical, and Oh-So Easy
We Are Teachers

Is there a big unit test coming up? Or state testing? Write notes of encouragement, like “you can do it” or “you prepared for this” on pencils to make students smile.

Learn more: Printing on Pencils Is Fun, Magical, and Oh-So Easy

12. Create a color-sheet door

door covered in coloring sheets
Betsy Potash via We Are Teachers

When you’re in need of a great door idea, cover your door in coloring pages that your students will relate to. Replace the door decoration when all the pages are colored in.

Learn more: Make Your Own Coloring Page Classroom Door

13. Write a “nothing note”

Put a note in an envelope and send a student who needs a break on an errand to deliver the note. The note is a “nothing note” that says the student was sent to deliver the message because they needed a walk and requests an item from the other teacher’s room.

Learn more: The Nothing Note

14. Make Fridays flash-lit

Young students using finger flashlights to trace letters
Jennifer R. via We Are Teachers

Turn off the lights, turn on the flashlights, and break out the books. The Flashlight Friday tradition is a fun one to end the week.

Learn more: Flashlight Fridays

15. Hang bulletin borders

bulletin board strips hanging for a teacher hack
Jen Phelan, grade 1 teacher via We Are Teachers

Use a curtain rod in your closet to hang all your borders. It’s easy to see what you have when you need to switch out to a new one.

16. Show students how your subject plays out in the “real world”

bulletin board with products that have works in spanish
Samantha B, high school Spanish teacher via We Are Teachers

Show your students examples of your subject area out in the “real world”! This “I Saw Spanish” bulletin board encourages students to look for Spanish out in the wild and bring it in for display. This concept could work for a lot of subject areas, especially those where students tend to ask “When am I ever gonna use this?!”

17. Turn scrap paper into confetti

Save colored scrap paper and turn it into confetti with a hole punch. Use it for celebrations or art projects.

18. Display student work with clothespins and tacks

You can stop leaving holes in students’ work by gluing tacks to the back of clothespins and using the clothespins to hang student work.

19. Use stadium seating for small groups

Gisele Maloney, elementary grade teacher via We Are Teachers

Stock up on stadium seating for small groups. They’re easy to store, save space, and students love them.

20. Use pouches to separate papers

Keep things organized with mesh pouches for graded papers and ungraded papers. Use them for transporting papers to and from home or for staying organized in the classroom.

21. Communicate by walkie-talkie

Best walkie-talkies feature
We Are Teachers; Amazon reviews

Get walkie-talkies to connect with your teacher team or teacher besties. Then you can put your phone away all day.

Learn more: Best Walkie-Talkies for Schools

22. Make your own sticky notes

light blue sticky notes with images on them
Morgan M., grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

Create sticky notes with you and your most encouraging statements. Your students will definitely remember the message.

23. Make master notes with yellow highlighter

Did you know that yellow highlighter won’t come through when you make copies? This is a game changer for making notes to yourself! Check out this Instagram reel showing the hack in action.

24. Implement a calming caddy

sensory balls

Fill a caddy with relaxing toys like these sensory balls. You’ll have a portable calm-down corner, and you may end up using these items too.

Buy it: Sensory Squeeze Toys

25. Create a Voice-o-Meter

voice levels bulletin board with numbers 0 1 2 3 4 5
We Are Teachers

All you need are tap lights and signs. Now all of your students will know the appropriate noise level.

Get it: Voice-Level Printable

26. Create desk holders

Attach plastic cups to desks with zip ties and you have a place to catch pencils, assignments, and a drink holder.

Learn more: Clever Ways To Add Bottle Holders to Student Desks

27. Turn your collaboration desk into a dry-erase board

hand holding dry-erase paper

The best teacher hacks are creative and affordable. Cover your rainbow or small-group table in whiteboard paper and turn the entire table into a wriging surface.

Buy it: Whiteboard Paper

28. Use colorful pencils

person writing with a blue pencil

Colorful pencils just make the workday better. Now you can have erasable colors in pencil, not just pen.

Buy it: Color Pencils

29. It’s an A+ for organized learning

photo boxes

Use photo boxes to store task cards.

Buy it: Plastic Photo Box

30. Use a fun screen saver to keep track of your devices

Save a silly photo of yourself holding up numbers or letters to identify which tablets are yours. This way you can avoid numbering devices with stickers that can leave residue.

Learn more: Best Classroom Screensavers on YouTube

31. Coffee that lasts all day

iced coffee teacher hack

This will get you through those long days—iced coffee to the rescue.

Buy it: Starbucks Iced Coffee

32. Run a sticker store

pack of stickers

Reward good behavior with a trip to the classroom sticker store!

Buy it: Stickers

33. Give your mini easel a new life

Use your mini easel to point out information that you want students to know. Use it to direct students to optional assignments, help them focus on less-read books, or to remember procedures they always seem to forget.

34. Create a cozy vibe

diffuser with orange mist

Create a realistic fireplace in your room with this diffuser that looks like a flame and some paper and cardboard.

Buy it: Diffuser with orange mist

35. Try a drying rack for student art

A laundry drying rack is a cheap and space-saving way to dry glued or painted projects. Either clip or drape art over the drying rack and leave it overnight.

36. Dry-erase dice

dry erase dice with dry erase marker for teacher hack

Dry-erase dice are amazing for review games, question activities, and choosing partners.

Buy it: Dry-Erase Blocks

37. Color-code hall passes

Print out your hall passes in different colors—green for bathroom, blue for office, etc. That way you can quickly identify why a student is leaving the room.

38. Get their attention with a doorbell

doorbells for the classroom in different colors white pink green yellow blue

Use a wireless doorbell to get students’ attention.

Buy it: Pack of five doorbells

Learn more: Reasons Why Teachers Love Their Wireless Classroom Doorbells

39. Rolling carts are game changers

cart with three tiers, teacher hack

Use them for rolling libraries, to hold student materials, or for small-group supplies. We’ve heard it again and again: A teacher can never have too many rolling carts.

Buy it: Three-Tier Rolling Utility Cart

Learn more: Best Roller Carts To Help Teachers Stay Organized

40. It’s a new kind of classroom pet

document camera light onto a paper teacher hack

Get creative with classroom pets. A Roomba or a doc camera can make a humorous and helpful class “pet.” (In my former classroom, our doc cam was named Greenie.)

Buy it: Document Camera

Learn more: Best Document Cameras for Teachers in Every Price Range

41. Use a shoe rack for supplies

Save time on passing out assignments by putting student work into individually labeled sections of a shoe rack.

Buy it: Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer

42. Discover all the ways to use LEGO bricks

lego bricks spelling out 1 2 3 A B C for a teacher hack

Building bricks are the most versatile school manipulative. Use them to create number lines, fractions, graphs, and more.

Buy it: a Tub of Building Blocks

Learn more: Use LEGO Bricks To Teach Math Concepts

43. Bring new meaning to the dab

set of dot markers

Dot markers can be used for choosing questions on a multiple-choice worksheet, to show how to solve math problems, and, of course, playing bingo.

Buy it: Dot Markers

44. Learn a little something from your students

Put out a jar and some Post-its and ask your students to write you a note about what they wish you knew. You’ll learn what they love about your class, and how you can make your class even better.

45. Use pom-poms for your markers

Glue pom-poms onto the end of whiteboard markers for an automatic eraser. Easy and effective!

46. Put a mark on borrowed pencils

stacks of decorative tape for a teacher hack

Put colored tape at the top of pencils you lend out so you can easily recognize which ones are yours.

Buy it: Decorative Tape

47. Use clothespins for pencil grippers

Put clothespins on pencils to help students with pencil grip.

48. Bring life to clothespins

colored clothespins

Colored clothespins bring joy to everyday organizing. Add your own inspiring messages on each one to add even more fun.

Buy it: 100 Colored Clothespins

49. Store paintbrushes in toothbrush holders

toothbrush holder for teacher hack

Get toothbrush holders with individual slots to hold paintbrushes.

Buy it: Acrylic Toothbrush Holder

50. Save those bottle caps

You can write letters or numbers on bottle caps and use them as manipulatives for spelling and math. Use them as bingo card markers or game pieces. The possibilities are endless!

51. Use Popsicle sticks to call on students

Popsicle sticks are another ever-useful tool. Write students’ names on them and use them to cold-call. Also use them as paint stirrers in art class or as counters in math class.

52. Plastic plates = whiteboards

plate with three sections for a teacher hack

All you need is plastic plates and you have a math manipulative that you can write on with a dry-erase marker. Use the two smaller sections for manipulatives and the larger section to write and complete math problems. Or use the top sections for manipulative letters and the large section to make words.

Buy it: 100 Plastic Plates

53. Use sponges to spread glue

Instead of going through a ton of glue sticks, dump a bottle of Elmer’s Glue into a container and put a sponge in the container. Flip it, spritz with water, and students can dip their materials onto the sponge to get a dab of glue.

54. Make teacher contact magnets

notes with contact information on them
Taylor W, grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

Put your contact information on laminated magnets that you can send home with students at the start of the year so parents know how to contact you.

55. Make your own classroom lighting

fairy lights in a mason jar

Create a calming atmosphere in your classroom by putting an inexpensive string of fairy lights in a glass jar.

Buy it: 12 Fairy Light Packs

56. Stock up on paint chips

poster with feelings with paint chips underneath it for a teacher hack
Gisele Maloney, elementary grade teacher via We Are Teachers

There are a ton of ways to use paint chips (get them from your local hardware store). You can help students organize their writing, sequence math problems, organize materials, or review for tests. Or like We Are Teachers contributor Gisele Maloney, use them to help students use synonyms for common adjectives in their writing.

Learn more: How One Teacher Uses Paint Samples for Stories, Poetry, and More

57. Create a pencil-sharpening station

Put pencils that are ready to use in one can and pencils that need sharpening in another. Add Pencil Sharpener to your class jobs and you’ll always have sharp pencils!

58. Make a simple dry-erase board

dry erase pockets in every color for teacher hack

Put worksheets and writing pages into dry-erase pockets so students can work on the same problems again and again until they’ve mastered the material. And they can easily erase mistakes.

Buy it: 30-Pack of Dry-Erase Pockets

59. Glue decor to your desk. Yes, really.

You can scrape the glue off at the end of the year, and all of your breakables will still be intact.

60. Put bag hooks on the backs of student chairs

Finally clear up the clutter on the floor with hooks on the back of each chair for students to hang their backpacks or book bags.

Buy it: Command Wall Hooks

61. Make yourself an “invisibility cloak”

Get a hat or headband that means “I’m invisible” so students know they need to problem-solve on their own or ask a friend before asking you.

62. Pool noodle math practice

pool noodles with multiplication facts on them
We Are Teachers

Pool noodles are so versatile! Make a hands-on math practice activity for independent practice with pool noodles.

Learn more: Pool noodle math practice tutorial

63. Pool noodle door stop

Cut down the middle of a pool noodle and wrap it around the door. Presto! No slamming!

Learn more: Pool Noodle Hacks for the Classroom

Buy it: 5-Pack of Pool Noodles

64. Organize papers with magazine racks

cardboard magazine racks

These are so helpful to stay organized! Turn magazine racks sideways to store papers to pass out or store papers as you’re organizing future lessons.

Buy it: Magazine File Holder

65. Use stickers to match glue sticks with their caps

Never lose caps again by putting colored stickers on the glue stick and on the cap.

66. Keep book recommendations top of mind

books on a chalkboard ledge with check out these books written above it
Taylor W, grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

Recommend books all day long by dedicating a corner of your whiteboard to book recommendations.

67. Use shower curtains as decor

Decorative shower curtains can be a cute and inexpensive way to spruce up any classroom wall.

68. Don’t let markers go dry

Wrap tape around the tops of a set of markers to keep them together.

69. Doodle on the tabletops

tablecloth with space to color

Add tablecloths to some tables in your room for students to color on while they listen or are waiting during transitions.

Buy it: Under the Sea Tablecloth

70. Easily store anchor charts

Hang anchor charts on a clothing rack to keep them available and looking new.

Buy it: Clothing Rack

71. Clean smarter, not harder

Clean and disinfect classroom supplies like plastic math manipulatives in the dishwasher for a fast solution to dirty items.

72. Make your own flexible seating

chair made of pool noodles for teacher hack
We Are Teachers

Make your own flexible seating with pool noodles and PVC.

Learn more: Make Your Own Pool Noodle Sensory Chair

73. Create a leaderboard

leader board with images of what students can win for a teacher hack
Taylor W, grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

If you’re using class points or an incentive system, post reward options that take more points to earn. This way students can work for something, and the most intensive rewards really are for students who worked the hardest.

74. Start a writing station suitcase

photo boxes

Use a photo box to organize writing materials including writing prompts, pencils, highlighters, and paper.

Buy it: Plastic Photo Box

75. Share your screen

We love a good screen share! Connect your computer to a TV in your room so you can share your screen and make it easy for students to follow along with every lesson.

76. Use chalk markers

classroom door with gingerbread decorations
Brittany G., grade 3 teacher via We Are Teachers

Use chalk markers for brighter, more vibrant colors without the chalky mess.

Buy it: Pack of Chalk Markers

77. Have a sub-survival kit ready

You never know when you will have to call in a sub last-minute. Provide a binder and all the materials a sub will need. Having a sub-station ready on day one means you can relax when you need to take a day off.

78. Expand workspace with lap desks

lapdesk on floor with toys

Use lap desks for flexible work spaces. This way, if you run out of desks, students can work on the floor.

Buy it: Set of 2 Lap Desks

79. Solve indoor recess

Students bored during indoor recess? Have parents send in a few small toys to keep them happy and occupied. Send home a large ziplock bag with the child’s name on it, and ask parents to send in a few toys that their child likes for indoor recess.

Learn more: Sanity-Saving Indoor Recess Games, Activities, and More Ideas

80. Use an apron

Why Teachers Are Trading in Their Desks for Classroom Aprons
Hadar from Miss Kindergarten via We Are Teachers

Get an apron so you can have everything you need at your fingertips. Hand sanitizer? Check. Scissors? Check. Pens? Check!

Buy it: Apron With Lettering

Learn more: Why Some Teachers Are Trading In Their Desks for Classroom Aprons

81. Store play dough in a creative way

Put a K-cup organizer to good use while keeping play dough clutter to a minimum!

Buy it: Coffee Pod Drawer

82. Clean up quickly with tidy tubs

bins in rainbow colors

Hand out these tidy tubs so kids can help with cleaning up paper scraps and more.

Buy it: 6 Plastic Tubs

83. Organize with plastic crates

Help your students take initiative by creating bins for extra copies of lost work, papers from when they were absent, and bonus work for early finishers.

84. Learn shapes with painter’s tape

painters tape in multiple colors for teachers hack

Pick up some painter’s tape in different colors and then create and label difficult-to-learn shapes on the floor.

Buy it: 8 Rolls of Painter’s Tape

85. Use curtain rods for display

shower rod with the date hung up for a teacher hack
Taylor W., grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

A magnetic curtain rod, some curtain rings, and a hole punch will really jazz up your morning board.

Buy it: Magnetic Curtain Rods

86. Celebrate the small things

blue curtain with congratulations written in silver letters and two pencils on either side, teacher hack
Taylor W., grade 4 teacher via We Are Teachers

Use pool noodles and a curtain to set up a Congratulations photo corner. Then you can celebrate big and small wins all year long!

What are your favorite teacher hacks? Come and share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our favorite dollar-store hacks for the classroom.

These amazing teacher hacks will keep your classroom organized, your sanity intact, and your social media channels popping.