Low-Budget, No-Budget Dream Classrooms: How 5 Teachers Made It Happen

Use some good old fashioned ingenuity!

Sponsored By Epson BrightLink Interactive Projectors

Close your eyes and picture it: your dream classroom.

The perfectly (and ergonomically) arranged furniture, the beautiful decorations, the amazing organizational systems and all of the ed tech you could ever need to make teaching a success. Of course, reality and dreams often differ greatly, especially in our current school climate in which there is often little money to buy pencils much less furnish extravagant dream classrooms.

Discouraging, yes. But impossible? No way!

We spoke with five teachers who have used their good old-fashioned ingenuity to make their dream classrooms a reality—from the tips of their custom-printed pencils to the tops of their projectors. Here’s an inside glimpse into their amazing classrooms and the full scoop on how they got the funding to make it all happen.

Classroom #1: Mr. J’s 8th Grade Classroom
Epson Whiteboard in the Classroom

“At my first school, I had an amazing BrightLink interactive projector that I used for every single lesson, so when I moved to a new school, it’s needless to say that I was disappointed to find that my new classroom had no technology whatsoever. I simply couldn’t imagine teaching without my projector, and my school had no ed tech budget, so I came up with a plan. I work in a low-socioeconomic but high-parental-involvement school. I knew my parents would want to help, but they also wouldn’t have the money to pay for a high-price item. So I signed up for the Amazon Associates program, through which Amazon pays a small percentage of each purchase that you refer to them. Then, I sent a list of school supply items that we needed for our classroom—pens, markers, paper—and their Amazon links to my parent email list. I asked them if they could donate these small-budget items to our classroom, and they responded very generously. Slowly, the advertising fees for the small-ticket items added up, and about six months later, I earned an Amazon gift card that helped cover the cost of a brand-new projector!”

Classroom #2: Mrs. M’s 2nd Grade Classroom
Glow marker table

“I love my classroom. Every time I walk into it, I get excited about the colors, the organization, the learning resources and the fun my students will have using them. But I don’t work in a wealthy private school or have a huge slush fund to buy supplies. I made my dream classroom happen by being extremely resourceful. I went to a lot of garage sales and was not above taking things people were throwing away. The book spinner I have was found at a storage unit as it was being thrown away. My ‘inspiration table’ was being thrown out by a neighbor so I grabbed it from the curb and then used chalkboard paint and chalk pens to decorate it. I worked with one of my fellow teachers to build a bookcase so I could have an in-class library. The only thing in my classroom that was provided by my school was the interactive projector, which was part of my school’s technology adoption last year after many, many requests from teachers.”

Classroom #3: Mrs. M’s 1st Grade Classroom

Child writing on walls in classroom

“When I walked into my classroom on my first teacher-prep day, I actually started to cry. Not only was my classroom completely devoid of any decorations, but the stark white walls had no windows, no bulletin boards and no life. I marched down to the principal and asked for permission to paint the walls, and he reluctantly agreed. I borrowed some old tempera paint from the art classroom. Over the next few weeks, our classroom art time consisted of my students working together to create a gorgeous multicultural mural full of flags, smiling children, flowers, trees, favorite sports and more. I went from hating my lifeless classroom to wanting to just hang out there and stare at the gorgeous art my kids had created!”

Classroom #4: Mr. C’s 10th Grade Classroom

“I think most teachers know about Donors Choose, but very few realize the potential. Every year, I choose one really awesome item (or group of items) that I know I’ll need for my dream classroom, and I list it along with a great description of my classroom and my goals for the product. I get funded most of the time. Last year, I was able to add a really cool digital library to my classroom with a set of Kindle Fires, each loaded with a series of e-books. The year before, I got a document camera.”

Classroom #5: Mrs. H’s 6th Grade Classroom

“I often use my document camera to show my kids cool games/activities on my classroom iPad. I realized last year that if I had an iPad Touch cart, I could demonstrate an app using the doc cam and then let the kids try it out on their own. I asked my principal and he said we just didn’t have the budget, so I decided to do a fundraiser. I teamed up with the health teacher and the P.E. teacher to host a ‘fun run’ where kids ran on teams around a local park on a Saturday morning. Each quarter mile, the kids stopped to perform a fun, educational task, like reading a poem, doing a math speed drill or sorting cards into appropriate categories. The winning team won huge applause and we made more than $1,300 from community donations, enough to buy two iPad carts for our classrooms!”

Get Yours for Free!

To help teachers create that dream classroom, Epson is giving away some awesome technology. Click here to enter to win a BrightLink 595Wi or one of five DC-06 document cameras!