Classroom consumables teachers have to purchase

4 Classroom Consumables Teachers Purchase

Teachers make a lot of surprising out-of-pocket purchases for their classrooms. As a result, they spend an average of $740 each year on school supplies. This sounds shocking to some. It’s not surprising when 60 percent of the top five teacher purchases are classroom consumables that need to be replaced throughout the year.

Unfortunately, 92% of teachers have students whose families cannot afford supplies. Because this is the case, teachers fill the gap by providing and replacing the classroom consumables that their students need.

During the school year, teachers across the country tell us about the surprising continued purchases they have to make to do their job. Here are just a few of the most common, and surprising, consumable classroom supplies they’re regularly buying.


It’s a common misconception that students only need lunch to get through the day. However, students often come to school hungry. An survey found that 74 percent of teachers purchase food or snacks to help their students meet basic nutritional needs.

In 2016, nearly 20 percent of U.S. children under the age of 18 lived in food-insecure households. That means more than 13 million children who enter the classroom are potentially distracted by hunger everyday. So teachers across the country purchase food to help students pay attention to their learning, rather than their empty stomach.

Writing Utensils

Even in a digital world, students use writing utensils daily from kindergarten through graduation. That makes them one of the most important classroom consumables teachers purchase. Unfortunately, teachers are spending a lot of their own money to ensure their students receive the pencils, pens, crayons, and markers they need.

Because writing utensils are required for students to complete assignments, found that 75 percent of teachers purchase writing supplies and continue to restock them throughout the year.

“As the year continues and we start running out of pencils… I know I will start to purchase those on my own.”

Stephanie, California middle school teacher

Paper Products

Students don’t have much use for a pencil without paper. According to a 2015 survey, 79 percent of teachers purchase paper products. Why are more teachers purchasing paper than writing utensils? Because there are so many types of paper teachers have to purchase.

New York teacher Danielle spends an average of $600 each year on classroom supplies, with one of her biggest expenditures being a wide variety of paper.

“There’s many types of paper my classroom needs like, loose leaf, cardstock, bulletin board, notebook, construction, and copy paper.”

Danielle, New York middle school teacher

Hygiene Products

When teachers first enter the profession, many expect to purchase common supplies like paper and pencils. But very few new teachers realize just how many students need hygiene products. According to an survey, 29 percent of teachers purchase hygiene products like toilet paper and soap.

Ultimately, teachers are responsible for providing so many things for their classroom full of students. If kiddos are lacking basic school supplies, food, or hygiene products, the teacher who spends five days a week with their students won’t just sit back and let them go without.

While teachers are spending so much of their own money on classroom consumables, we can all do our part to help. With’s new Monthly Giving Program, donors can make monthly donations to a classroom or school so they can continue to provide students with the materials they quickly go through.