Frugal Teaching Aids

Often times the most effective teaching aids can be the simplest ones. Here are some of our favorites! Added bonus — the kiddos had an active role in making them from very frugal materials!!

The cost of workbooks can add up, especially for large families. Here’s an easy tip to reuse workbooks!

Encourage early handwriting practice and stronger family connections by putting together a Write to Grandma Kit! My kiddos adore this!!

Special thanks to Phyllis for the idea of using this gum ball machine as an effective classroom reward chart! Colorful and fun!!

For little ones learning how to write, you may want to make your own easy & frugal “sandpaper” letter set! Our is used on a regular basis around here!!

Promote a love of nature and early recycling habits with this nature study kit made from recyclables. Get outside and have fun learning!!

Do you have a frugal teaching aid idea?? Leave a comment and share it with us!!


  1. 1. Plastic coffee stirrers & coins as math counters/manipulatives.
    2. Cookie tin covers as magnetic boards.
    3. Old calendar pictures cut up as puzzles.
    4. Back of used papers as scratch papers for drawing, writing pratice, doodling, coloring.
    5. Paste/Glue printed learning materials on old flip calendars as learning posters.
    6. Old keyboard for learning letters/typing. I sometimes call out a letter and the kids race to find it first on the keyboard.
    7. Cut old magazine pictures for collage making.
    8. Back of old calling cards as flashcards/letter tiles, etc…
    9. Draw lines on the back of cereal boxes for cutting practice.
    10. Used colored markers for color sorting/learning about colors.

  2. We find lots of uses for small yogurt cups. Once they are washed out, they can be stacked for storage and used for sorting small items, for rinsing paint brushes, as small containers for various science experiments, and so on.

  3. Cardboard boxes, cardboard boxes, cardboard boxes – build cities, robots, creatures, aliens, the list is endless. We use most of our domestic packaging as well – cracker containers, cereal boxes, etc etc.
    By the way – love the “Write to Grandma” kit – I especially like the flash cards suited to card writing. I’ll make one up tomorrow!

  4. Playing cards and dice are two of our faves for teaching math!

  5. Baby food items. I wish I’d saved more of the various types of baby food jars, but as it was Jeff thought I was crazy for saving so many……

  6. Junk- literally…I keep old erasers, buttons, pebbles, etc. and make junk boxes. We use them for all kinds of Math sorting/counting activities, art projects, writing inspiration, etc., etc., etc.

  7. I love a good box of craft sticks. Of course, I love anything and everything educational and I can make anything and everything educational. But I’m sticking with craft sticks for now because I didn’t see it mentioned.

  8. File folder games!
    But seriously, why did I not think of that reusing workbooks idea? Simple and brilliant.

  9. Wow, so many good ideas in the comments and in the post. Love grandma kit! We use buttons, lids and popsticks a lot!

  10. These are great ideas and I love the dry earse workbook pages. As my sister and I purchase age appropiate workbooks and pass them along to the next kid. But we use egg cartons and anything that will fit into them. We can fill each hole with a certain number of beans for example. This is a great counting activity. Plus they are great for starting plants (if using the cardboard type) and they make excellent crafts.

  11. I am a frugal preschool teacher! I have a extra large bin on a bottom shelf in my house that is for all that “junk” that you hate to get rid of. ie, baby food jars, peanut butter jars, paper towel tubes, yogurt and deli containers, berry baskets, soda lids, and the list is endless. I just toss them in there for a somewhat organized way of keeping all my junk until I can help little ones turn them into magic treasures. One of my favorites is using egg cartons for paints. It make a perfect paint pallet that can be tossed when done!
    I also LOVE baby food containers. I color rice and keep in them, as well as coffee, salt, wiggly eyes, etc, etc 🙂 Why buy storage when so much of it is right in your kitchen pantry! I also use baby wipe containers for game and craft storage. And, Icing containers make great storage for any tiny toys, like “TOOB” animals or polly pockets. It helps keep me organized and is so simple for the kids to clean up after themselves. —- Okay, so I just kind of went off on a “storage” tangent, but hey, it keeps me frugal! 🙂

  12. No more tips but an update! We now have a “Grandparent Writing Kit”. Already we have two cards with thank you messages inside for easter eggs received recently and my 5 year old is enjoying the envelope full of ‘common use in letters’ words. We have circle and star stickers in there plus the appropriate addresses for the girls to copy onto envelopes. Such a great idea Valerie!