Homeschooling Logo

Lecturers Shared 29 Small, Cheap Issues That Have Improved Their Instructing Lives, and We Need Them All

February 4, 2023
Homeschooling Blogs

Sometimes the littlest things can make the biggest difference. We asked our teacher audience to tell us what small, inexpensive thing has made their teaching lives better, easier, or more fun, and all of them made us want to click “Add to cart.”

Check out their picks below.

1. Small stretchy dinosaur toys

“I taught high school for 37 years before I retired, and whenever a kid was having a bad day, I gave them a stretchy dinosaur. The tactile sensation is calming and the nostalgic joy of getting a silly little toy from their childhood was priceless!”

—Gwyn S.

Buy it on Amazon: Dinosaurs

2. Postcards

“I use them to mail out birthday wishes to all of my learners. They really appreciate the handwritten messages.”

—Roger G.

Buy it on Amazon: Postcards

3. Wrist key chain

“It doubles as a fidget, and I lose my keys less often because I physically can feel them.”

—Kimberly A.

Small, inexpensive thing: wrist keychain

Buy it on Amazon: Wrist key chain

4. Fancy teapot and matching cup

“It makes me feel good to have this little touch of beauty in my day.”

—Lisa M.

Small, inexpensive thing: teapot

Buy it on Amazon: Teapot and cup

5. A self-inking stamp of my face

“The kids love it!”

—Jamie F.

Stamp as an example of small, inexpensive thing that makes teaching life better

Buy it on Etsy: Self-inking teacher stamp

6. A plush crab

“Long since retired, but a crab stuffed animal that I would produce when I was getting ‘crabby.’ If kids weren’t listening, weren’t being kind to one another … they knew when the crab appeared, it was time for a behavior reset.”

—Ricki F.

Small, inexpensive thing: plush crab

Buy it on Amazon: Plush crab

7. A great stapler

“It’s a Swingline, made of steel, and uses special ‘high-performance’ staples. I’m amused, sometimes, by how happy I am to have it.”

—Kevin B.

Small, inexpensive thing: stapler

Buy it on Amazon: Swingline stapler

8. A service bell

“I ring it for great answers. Kids LOVE getting a ding! Double dings are even better.”

—Christine E.

Small, inexpensive thing: service bell

Buy it on Amazon: Service bell

9. A pencil sharpener made just for colored pencils

—Sandy R.

Small, inexpensive thing: colored pencil sharpener

Buy it on Amazon: Colored-pencil sharpener

10. Lamps

“I’m telling you. Wayyyy better than overhead lights.”

—Leah S.

Small, inexpensive thing: lamp

Buy it on Amazon: Lamp

11. Small coffee maker

“I have a very small coffee maker I use for tea and hot chocolate.”

—Tonya D.

Small, inexpensive thing: coffee maker

Buy it on Amazon: Small coffee maker

12. A pencil dispenser

“Bonus: You can put cute magnets on it!”

—Jenna T.

Small, inexpensive thing: pencil dispenser

Buy it on Amazon: Pencil dispenser

13. A Venus flytrap

“I have a Venus flytrap that is somehow still alive and my kids love earning a chance to check on/name the new traps. One of my babies refers to them as ‘the Jeffries,’ and it warms my heart every time. Always wants to water them and make sure they got a chance to catch some flies.”

—Ali A.

Small, inexpensive thing: venus fly trap

Buy it on Amazon: Venus flytrap

14. Desk chocolate

“Chocolate I keep in my desk for the tough moments!”

—Mary S.

Small, inexpensive thing: chocolate

Buy it on Amazon: Chocolate

15. Clickable markers

“I use these every single day!”

—Brandi B.

Small, inexpensive thing: retractable markers

Buy it on Amazon: Crayola Clicks Retractable Markers

16. A battery-powered heating pad

“It sounds so stupid but I freaking love it. I have a terrible back and it helps my muscles relax and helps me relax (especially when it’s cold). It’s not ‘fun,’ but it is my favorite!”

—Dharinne P.

Small, inexpensive thing: wireless heating pad

Buy it on Amazon: Heating pad

17. EZ Grader

—Myronna P.

Small, inexpensive thing: EZ grader

Buy it on Amazon: EZ Grader

18. Puppet

“Even with high school kids! Make the puppet be the one to deliver instructions and they will listen!”

—Yasmin D.

Small, inexpensive thing: puppet

Buy it on Amazon: Puppet

19. A karaoke machine or mic

“It’s so much fun when doing read-alouds and when kids do presentations.”

—Jason W.

Small, inexpensive thing: karaoke microphone

Buy it on Amazon: Karaoke microphone

20. A laser pointer

“So I can point to the word wall, anchor charts, etc., without having to cross the classroom.”

—Shannon T.

Buy it on Amazon: Laser pointer

21. A clicker (wireless remote)

“Used it for the first time today. Loving being able to move around the classroom!”

—Charlotte R.

Small, inexpensive thing: wireless remote

Buy it on Amazon: Wireless remote

22. For teachers of littles: an apron.

“Wear an apron with pockets! Carry the scissors, the wipe-off markers, the eraser, the Kleenex, the Sharpie, the stapler, the hole punch, the fidgets, even the cell phone in the pockets. If you teach littles, you NEVER sit down, so you may as well have everything at the ready.”

—Amy T.

Small, inexpensive thing: apron

Buy it on Amazon: Apron

23. Smarties candy

“For my smarties in the classroom!”

—Lupe J.

Small, inexpensive thing: Smarties

Note: Smarties are the unicorn candy. Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free!

Buy it on Amazon: Smarties

24. Foaming liquid soap

“In the faculty restroom where only adults can get it.”

—Paula B.

Small, inexpensive thing: foaming hand soap

Buy it on Amazon: Foaming hand soap

25. Command hooks

“I’m fortunate to have a walk-in closet. I lined up command hooks on the walls and keep all the hands on centers that I’ve printed and laminated in baggies or binder rings on the hooks. They’re labeled and ready to grab. You could do the same thing on the inside of cabinet doors if you don’t have a closet.”

—Rebecca G.

Small, inexpensive thing: command hooks

Buy it on Amazon: Command Hooks

26. Massaging neck wrap

“I use it in my planning period while I work.”

—Heather C.

Small, inexpensive thing: neck massager

Buy it on Amazon: Massaging neck wrap

27. A small kids’ tent

“That is our ‘safe space’ when students are feeling big emotions and need some time and space. Fill the tent with social-emotional books, sensory fidgets, and positive affirmations. Best part of our classroom!”

—Katie M.

Small, inexpensive thing: tent

Buy it on Amazon: Tent

28. Wireless classroom doorbell

“Best management tool ever.”

—Madeline G.

Small, inexpensive thing: doorbell


Buy it on Amazon: Wireless doorbell

29. Sound-effect maker

“That way, when the kids don’t laugh at my hilarious jokes, I can still get laughs!”

—Anna K.

Small, inexpensive thing: sound effect maker

Buy it on Amazon: Sound-effect maker

What’s your favorite small, inexpensive teaching purchase? Let us know in the comments.

Looking for more articles like this? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters!

Related Posts