Ask and You Shall Receive!

As art teachers, our budgets are mainly used towards consumable supplies. When I open my boxes of supplies at the beginning of the year it seems as if I will never use all the paper, glaze and multiple bottles of paint I order. Yet at the end of the year, most of the supplies in those boxes are gone. My budget is very small so I am always trying to find ways to get more supplies in the hands of my students.
It is my goal to use the budget from the school to purchase specialty items such as clay, glaze, plaster, paint, paper etc. As much as I try not to spend my own money purchasing supplies, I often buy liquid glue and some other random supplies at a big box store during their back to school sale.

How do I make my budget go further?

I ask students to bring in art supplies.

This year was the first year I added art supplies to their supply list. My secretary added a separate art section to the list so students knew that the supplies for were specifically for art.
I was very happy with the amount of supplies I received. I had enough new supplies to replenish them the beginning of each quarter and I even have some left over. Yay!


Here is my supply list:

  • 2 Fine Point Sharpie Markers
  • Colored Markers (2 boxes)
  • Colored Pencils (1 package)
  • 2 Glue Sticks
  • 1 Box of Crayons
  • *Box of Kleenex (added to the list for the 2012-2013 school year.

Do students donate art supplies to your program? What supplies do they donate?

Looking for other ways to stretch your art room budget? Who isn’t!? Then check these links out!

How to Order Fewer Art Supplies Next Year

DIY Art Room Style 

Sketchbooks on the Cheap

Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Andrew Beckett

    I do the same thing.  I have one grade bring in 2 glue sticks, one grade a box of markers, one grade three felt tip black pens, one grade 3 erasers, one grade pencil sharpener, another brings in hand held pencil sharpeners.. and so forth.. they all get put into “community use” and kept in the art room.  Every year I tweak the list depending on what I need more of.  It works really well.  It’s amazing how much money I was spending on glue sticks and erasers! 

    • Andrew Beckett

      oops!  somehow I’m logged in as my husband.  This is Marcia, from You’ll notice that after a couple years you’ll have more than enough markers to last quite awhile!

      • Hey Marcia!
        You and Cassidy are so smart with this idea! We tried to implement this but were shot down :( The school supply list was too expensive already to add something to it, according to our district. Therefore, I put an “Art Room WishList” in the parent newsletter and received a lot of nice things, including recycled things and smaller things like paper plates, paper bags, bubble wrap, etc.

        • Way to be creative and ask for a wish list.  Any donations help!

          • I added sketchbooks a few years ago to our list and 90% of the kids do bring them in.  Anyone who doesn’t, gets a “homemade” version that I put together.  I use them for practice sketches before lessons so they can work out their ideas.  We don’t do much free time drawing, but when we do, they can use their sketchbook for that too. I noticed that kids tend to work harder on their free time drawings if they are in their sketchbooks, and they have learned to not waste as much paper.  Some kids even go back to a drawing they didn’t finish.
            Sketchbooks are only for 3rd to 5th grade and if the sketchbook has a decent amount of paper in them at the end of the year, we keep it for the next year. I store them over the summer and hand them back out the next school year. The kids get a kick out of looking back to see what they drew the year before and to see how they have grown. I love when the 3rd graders come in on the first day, all excited, with their new sketchbooks.  They can’t wait to be able to use them! 

        • Vivian Sakellariou

          Yes, I love the Art Room Wish List Idea.

    • Maria, I agree!  It is amazing how much extra money I have to spend on other items!  I will definitely be tweaking my list more next year. 

  • I’ve always wanted to do this, but our lists are already so long. I would add baby wipes to that list- they clean up oil pastel like a charm!


    • That’s a great idea!  I will have to swap something out for baby wipes next year.

  • I would love to do this too! I don’t know if I can feel right asking parents for anything when the majority of our population is on free and reduced lunch. I live in the city where I work and I can say from a citizens perspective our taxes are so high for those of us who own houses here. Maybe if they cut the art budget completely. 

    • I also teach in an urban school where the majority of our students receive free and reduced lunches.  My art budget was around $1.00 a student and I felt I needed to at least attempt to get more supplies in their hands somehow.  I would say roughly half of my students brought in items and some didn’t bring in all items.  With the back to school sales the items cost around $4.50-$6.00. It was a drop off donation so no one really noticed if a student didn’t bring in supplies.  It definitely is difficult to ask when everything seems to be costing so much these days.

  • After years of working in a high school dept, where we asked for money (and continued to do so despite being told not to)…I was frustrated. Kids, of all ages, do not respect materials simply in a group supply. So this year I had 2 ideas about how to get more supplies, but less on my dollar. I have my plan in place for those that don’t bring in their own. I wish I would have asked for some of the things you did, but I kept it basic just in case there was an annoyance that that art teacher was asking for too much. My list was put on bright paper and in a big font (the secretary’s idea) so all families wouldn’t over look my supply list too! I think I asked for pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, glue, glue sticks, and their OWN markers. The pencils and markers were really the most important things to me. Going thru those 2 items too often. I am tired of sharpening pencils, maintaining them in their little cup, kids fighting over the best one, and it was really irk’ing me that kids were deliberately breaking the erasers off. So there will be no pencils from me next year. Not one! I hope my plan works :) I am also asking for a sketchbook or a notebook of any kind. I have been using scrap paper for the last 2 years and it works (Until you are low). This way they can keep their own sketches together and if they want to waste a book of paper…that can again be on their parent’s dime. I can’t wait to see if my big plan works!

    • Good idea adding a sketch book.  I found that if I didn’t have pencils for them to borrow, they would ask to go to their locker to get one, or waste time roaming around the room asking to borrow one.  I have a pencils for them to use.  However, they have spoons taped to the ends so the students don’t walk away with them.  I hope your plan works! 

  • Vivian Sakellariou

    I ask for 2 items per child in each grade and this year I’ve received enough markers, wipes, and kleenex boxes to last the year, which has been great! I also have a small budget of about $1.20 per student per year, so I have been going with lower quality construction paper and drawing paper, but this year plan to spend more, but get less materials, but will probably be well worth it, so that student work will look better and last longer.

  • Jillart1

    I also have a very small art budget which I get from a small art fee.  The Principal feels that since we charge an art fee, I shouldn’t ask for supplies too.  Wish there were a way around it.  :-(

  • A great way to do this is to add one item per grade level — this way it doesn’t feel like you are asking parents to buy everything. For example:
    K — Pink Eraser and Elmer’s Glue
    1 — #2 Wooden Pencils
    2 — Black Sharpie Markers (fine tip)
    3 — Crayola Markers (one of any color set: classic, bold, brights)
    4 — Crayola or Prang Watercolors
    5 — Crayola or Prang colored pencils.

    This way you get a bulk of each item without asking parents to supply more than about 3.00 for their kid to art for the year.  All students bring these to your room the first day, put it away and the whole school shares the loot!

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  • kim

    The teachers at my school send me their leftover supplies to sort through for the art room at the end of the year, and I receive donations from parents through out the year. As a result, I don’t have buy regular crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks, or Elmer’s glue. I usually inherit enough at the end of the year to stock my room for next year. That allows me to order “special” crayons, pencils etc. to round out my supplies. I’ve even been able to donate extra supplies that I can’t store or don’t need ( like more scissors) to a local community center for their summer programs. The kids and I make an end of the year project out of separating broken and whole crayons so we can make multi-colored crayon chunks to go in the Birthday Box for next year.
    I also publish a quarterly newsletter through the school’s Artsonia account and let parents know that I will accept certain kinds of donations. As a result, I get some real treasures. The community scrap book group that holds events at my school has gifted me with rubber stamps, paper, and ink pads several times this year by asking members to clean out their craft closets. Some businesses have given me old letterhead on quality paper, envelopes, even huge rolls of architectural bond paper! I discreetly recycle things I can’t use. I also let donors know that if I can’t store or don’t need items, I have a network of underfunded art teachers to share with. In the four years I have been at my elementary school, I have been able to
    fill my room with supplies AND help colleagues who are struggling with little to no budget.