Raid the Supply Closet: 50+ creative remixes of standard class supplies

Common classroom supplies can turn a boring activity into something magical with a little creativity. Here are some ideas to kick your school supplies game up a notch.

Common classroom supplies can turn a boring activity into something magical with a little creativity. Here are some ideas to kick your school supplies game up a notch.

We know that poster board makes posters and that paper clips hold papers together.

But what if they had hidden super powers?

The things you may have laying around the classroom may be the keys to unlocking some exciting, engaging learning activities. (Or if you don’t have them, they could be at the top of your list for purchasing for next year!)

A simple message from Craig Klement, an instructional coach in Garland, Texas, got the wheels spinning:

  • He has used sticky notes or index cards to play HedBanz (the game with the card on your head you’re trying to guess).
  • He has used spaghetti noodles to plot lines on a graph.

BOOM. Epiphany moment. What other creative uses of these common items do teachers have?

I asked the Ditch That Textbook community. In our regular email newsletters and on Twitter, I posted a link to a Google Form. (Sign up for those newsletters here.) They shared their creative uses of traditional items — and creative supplies they use to spice up traditional lessons.

When it was all said and done, we had more than 50 creative ideas. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Lindsay Foster (@BSGSCSFoster) uses binder clips for cord management, keeping them neat and free from tangles.
  • Rayna Freedman (@rlfreedm) calls a casino for dice and cards they throw away. She uses them to build card towers and for math games.
  • Amy Storer (@techamys) uses pool noodles and Legos to teach fractions.
  • Katie Rolf (@Mrs_Rolf) uses peeps for stop motion videos and cardboard boxes for mini sound recording studios.

Want to check out all of these creative ideas?

Click here to view/download the PDF ebook. (It’s FREE, and you don’t even have to sign up for anything to get it.)

Raid the supply closet intro pages

Wait … how did you make that???

Want to know how to create an ebook like this? After I had gathered everyone’s ideas, it only took me about 30 minutes to make the whole thing. Here are the steps I took …

  1. Create a Google Form survey to gather everyone’s ideas. Share the link to it so they can answer.
  2. In the Google Form, click the “Responses” tab and click the green Sheets icon to save the responses to a Google Sheet.
  3. In the Sheet, add the “Autocrat” add-on. Click Add-ons > Autocrat > Launch to get started.
  4. Set up Autocrat to pull all of the responses. (Here are some instructions on how to use Autocrat.) I set it up to generate a Google Doc with all of the responses in one single document.
  5. Run Autocrat to create the Google Doc with all of the responses.
  6. When it’s done, go to Google Drive and open your new Google Doc. Make any revisions or formatting changes you’d like.
  7. Go to File > Download as … > PDF to save your document of responses as a PDF.
  8. Create a cover with Google Slides. Open a new Google Slides file and go to File > Page setup. I changed it to a custom size of 8.5″ x 11″. Make it whatever size you’d like.
  9. Design your cover and any other pages you’d like. I find images for mine at I did a cover and an introduction message (two pages).
  10. When you’re done with your cover and any other pages, go to File > Download as … > PDF.
  11. I took those two files over to PDF Mergy. I just added the two PDF files (in the correct order) and clicked “Merge.” Then click “Save to your computer” to save the PDF.

Question: What other creative uses of common classroom items do you use? Are there any creative supplies you bring to spice up a traditional lesson? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

 DateEvent / Event DetailsCity / More Info
+ 03/30/2018
Taylorville CUSDTaylorville, IL
+ 04/11/2018
Switzerland County School CorpVevay, IN
+ 04/21/2018
Great ExpectationsEdmond, OK
+ 04/25/2018
Connect ConferenceNiagra Falls, CA
+ 06/01/2018
MSD of MartinsvilleMartinsville, IN
+ 06/04/2018
Granbury ISDGranbury, TX
+ 06/05/2018
Columbus City SchoolsColumbus OH
+ 06/06/2018
School City of MishawakaMishawaka, IL
+ 06/12/2018
2nd Annual Learn, Explore, Adopt and Deliver (LEAD) ConferenceCleveland, OH
+ 06/13/2018
InnEdCoKeystone, CO
  Public Event
+ 06/19/2018
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
+ 06/21/2018
Barr-Reeve Jr/Sr High School- Washington Community SchoolsWashington, IN
+ 08/09/2018
St. Joseph Grade SchoolSouth Bend, IN
+ 08/14/2018
Tech CampPortage, Michigan
+ 08/15/2018
St. Anthony de Padua Catholic SchoolSouth Bend, IN
  • Karen says:

    This is so great! We are for sure sharing this on our social sites for teachers. Thank you for the awesome suggestions.

  • Julie Hays says:

    I use stretchy gloves as white board erasers. Put the glove on your non-writing hand. Raid lost and found at the end of winter. Plenty to go around. My kids love this!

  • Charlene says:

    And if you use Preview on a Mac, you can combine PDFs together by dragging and dropping into the sidebar. Here’s how:

  • […] Raid the Supply Closet: 50+ Creative Remixes of Standard Class Supplies– Matt Miller collected some thoughts from his Twitter followers. Fun ideas. […]

  • Alexandra says:

    Awesome! Who said teachers weren´t creative, huh?
    Amazing and useful suggestions from you all.
    Matt, you´re the best and you´re doing a wonderful work.

    Thank you for sharing .

    Keep up with your mission.


  • Good article! Thank you so much for sharing this post. Your views truly open my mind.