30 Small, Inexpensive Things Teachers Say Have Made Their Lives Better

I tried out the small, stretchy dinosaurs with my middle schoolers—you would have thought they were cash prizes.

Paired images of the small inexpensive things teachers love: a line a day journal and cute planter

Sometimes the littlest things can make the biggest difference. We asked our teacher audience to tell us what small, inexpensive things have 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. Colorful wool coasters

Teachers small inexpensive things: wool coasters

“Before these, I was constantly leaving condensation on my desk (or, let’s be real—my students’ papers). These keep everything dry and are a cheerful sight for this Seattle teacher!” —Maya I.

Buy it on Amazon: Colorful wool coasters

2. Small stretchy dinosaur toys

Teachers small inexpensive things: stretchy dinosaurs

“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: Stretchy dinosaurs

3. 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

4. Wrist key chain

Small, inexpensive thing: wrist keychain

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

Buy it on Amazon: Wrist key chain

5. A pretty ceramic cup and saucer

Teachers small inexpensive things: cup and saucer

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

Buy it on Amazon: Ceramic cup and saucer

6. A self-inking stamp of my face

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

“The kids love it!” —Jamie F.

Buy it on Etsy: Customized self-inking stamp

7. Cute planter

Cute planter as one of teachers small inexpensive things

“Picking out a planter that makes me happy every time I look at it has been a game-changer. My students and visitors love it, too!” —Amy L.

Buy it on Amazon: Cute planter

8. A great stapler

Small, inexpensive thing: 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.

Buy it on Amazon: Swingline stapler

9. A 140-piece jigsaw puzzle you can do during lunch

Mini jigsaw puzzle teachers small inexpensive things

“When I (or one of my students) need a total reset, I get out one of my mini jigsaw puzzles. I swear, it alters my brain chemistry. Plus, it fits in my desk!” —Lia V.

Buy it on Amazon: Mini jigsaw puzzle

10. A service bell

Small, inexpensive thing: service bell

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

Buy it on Amazon: Service bell

11. A pencil sharpener made just for colored pencils

Small, inexpensive thing: colored pencil sharpener

Buy it on Amazon: Colored-pencil sharpener

12. Lamps

Small, inexpensive thing: lamp

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

Buy it on Amazon: Lamp

13. Small coffee maker

Small inexpensive things: personal coffee maker

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

Buy it on Amazon: Small coffee maker

14. A pencil dispenser

Small, inexpensive thing: pencil dispenser

“Bonus: You can put cute magnets on it!” —Jenna T.

Buy it on Amazon: Pencil dispenser

15. Stress relief roll-on for a quick reset

Teachers small inexpensive things: stress relief rollerball

But it on Amazon: Stress-relief roll-on essential oil

16. A Venus flytrap

Small, inexpensive thing: venus fly trap

“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.

Buy it on Amazon: Venus flytrap

17. Clickable markers

Small, inexpensive thing: retractable markers

“I use these every single day!” —Brandi B.

Buy it on Amazon: Crayola Clicks Retractable Markers

18. A battery-powered heating pad

Small, inexpensive thing: wireless 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.

Buy it on Amazon: Heating pad

19. EZ Grader

Small, inexpensive thing: EZ grader

“Yes, I know we have all types of digital calculation apps. Yes, I still use this every day.” —Myronna P.

Buy it on Amazon: EZ Grader

20. A karaoke machine or mic

Small, inexpensive thing: karaoke microphone

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

Buy it on Amazon: Karaoke microphone

21. A clicker (wireless remote)

Small, inexpensive thing: wireless remote

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

Buy it on Amazon: Wireless remote

22. A line-a-day journal for low-commitment memories


“One of the best routines I’ve added to my day. Before I leave (usually earlier during the day) I write down one positive, funny, or moving thing that happened. It takes me 30 seconds, tops. At the end of the year, I type up all the little memories and put them in a slideshow for my 8th graders. And for myself, I have a record of exclusively positive memories of that class I can thumb through on a bad day. It’s the best!” —Cheryl M.

Buy it on Amazon: One Line a Day journal

23. Apron

Small, inexpensive thing: 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.

Buy it on Amazon: Apron

24. Smarties candy

Small, inexpensive thing: Smarties

“For my smarties in the classroom!” —Lupe J.

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

Buy it on Amazon: Smarties

25. Foaming liquid soap

Small, inexpensive thing: foaming hand soap

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

Buy it on Amazon: Foaming hand soap

26. Command hooks

Small, inexpensive thing: 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.

Buy it on Amazon: Command Hooks

27. Massaging neck wrap

Small, inexpensive thing: neck massager

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

Buy it on Amazon: Massaging neck wrap

28. A small kids’ tent

Small, inexpensive thing: 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.

Buy it on Amazon: Tent

29. Wireless classroom doorbell

Small, inexpensive thing: doorbell

“Best management tool ever.” —Madeline G.

Buy it on Amazon: Wireless doorbell

30. Sound-effect maker

Small, inexpensive thing: sound effect maker

“This way, when the kids don’t laugh at my hilarious jokes, I can still get laughs!” —Anna K.

Buy it on Amazon: Sound-effect maker

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We asked our teacher audience to tell us what small, inexpensive things have made their teaching lives better, easier, or more fun, and all of them made us want to click “Add to cart.”