How to Do a Cheap Classroom Transformation

budget-friendly tips for classroom transformations

Have you ever wanted to do a cheap classroom transformation, but were scared off because you thought it would be too much money? I have!! When I first heard about room transformations, I thought to myself…

  • This is going to take me hours to set up.
  • This is going to cost me so much money.
  • This looks so overwhelming.
  • I could never do this!

But I was wrong! Classroom transformations aren’t just for teachers who have an unlimited budget. Classroom transformations can be easy and budget-friendly. These are 10 tips to help you set up your first cheap classroom transformation!

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Tip #1: Use What’s Around Your House

A lot of teachers don’t realize they don’t need to spend any money on a room transformation if they don’t want to. Look around your house and see what you can find! It’s amazing what ideas you can get for a budget-friendly classroom transformation just by going through your attic or kids’ toy chests.

halloween classroom set up

For example, at Halloween, I grab some decorations out of my attic and use them in my classroom. The students love looking at the new classroom decor and I don’t have to spend a penny on providing this fun for them. The same concept works with any holiday decorations you have around your home. If it’s Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, or Thanksgiving, you probably have some decorations you can bring to school to implement a cheap classroom transformation for that theme.

Tip #2: Ask Parents

classroom set up like a pet hospital

Ask for parent donations! The first few times that I did room transformations, I bought all of the supplies myself. Students would go home and tell their parents all about the fun day they had as doctors or donut shop owners or zookeepers. Several parents emailed me and told me how much they appreciated me doing these fun activities for their children. They said they would be happy to donate any supplies I needed if I did room transformations in the future.

That definitely sparked my creativity and I was able to do a lot more room transformations due to Amazon wishlists and sign-up genius lists thanks to parents’ generosity. The picture above is actually thanks to parent donations! I requested some animal balloons from Amazon and parents sent them in for me. Students got to take a pet balloon home at the end of our veterinarian day! This made it very easy to do a cheap classroom transformation.

Tip #3: Ask the Community

It might seem crazy, but it works! When you reach out to your community for supplies, they deliver! The great thing about classroom transformations is that most classroom transformations focus on a certain job or career (example: veterinarian, doctor, firefighter, etc). When you reach out to the profession you are doing your room transformation theme around, they are highly likely to want to help you make it come to life in your classroom! Here are some examples of things that have been donated to my classroom through my local community.

kids dressed as firefighters

The local fire station donated plastic firefighter hats for us to wear during our room transformation on Firefighter Day.

kid dressed up like a veterinarian

A few years ago, a local doctor’s office donated gloves and masks for us to wear during our Surgery Day. These also work for veterinarian day.

classroom set up like a donut shop

Another example would be when Krispy Kreme donated donut hats and donuts to my class when we became donut shop owners. 

Tip #4: Go to the Dollar Store for Supplies

The dollar store is a teacher’s best friend when it comes to classroom transformations! There are so many budget-friendly items available that are easy to implement in a cheap room transformation.

hawaii beach classroom transformation

On our Hawaiian beach day, I decorated our classroom with a few tablecloths, leis, and blow up floats for under $10.

christmas classroom transformation wrapped desks

For Christmas, I bought some fun decorations from the Dollar Store to set the stage for our Santa’s Workshop Room Transformation where we became elves. My favorite decoration was the cheap wrapping paper I used to wrap each student’s desk.

farm classroom transformation decorations

For farmer day, I found lots of cute tablecloths and farm animal-themed pencils/erasers to use to engage students in their learning.

Tip #5: Go to 5 Below for Cheap Classroom Transformation Floats

Five Below is my go-to for blow-up decorations during room transformations because they’re cheap! Five Below sells most floats for $5. And if you look for floats after the season is over, you can normally get floats for even cheaper!

lots of blow up donuts

For Donut Day, I got a bunch of blow-up donuts you would normally use in the pool to set the stage in my classroom. When the room transformation is over, simply tell students how to deflate the donuts so you don’t have to do any of the work. Students in my class loved deflating the donuts and storing them away for me to use again next year.

ice cream blow up floats

On Ice Cream Shop Day, these floats from 5 Below came in handy! I believe I bought them after the summer season too so they were only $3 each instead of $5.

rainbow blow up float

Some more examples include a shark float for Under the Sea Day, a rainbow float for weather day, a tiger float for zoo day, and a space ship float for space day! A quick search of their website can easily help you plan any room transformation you’d like to do throughout the year.

Tip #6: Ask Students to Bring in Decorations

Don’t be afraid to get your students involved! Students love to help and they have pretty cool things at their houses too! Mention to students that you’re doing a dinosaur classroom transformation and you’d be surprised how many boys will be willing to bring in their dinosaur stuffed animals.

dinosaur balloons

Are you doing a royal classroom transformation? Lots of kids have royal decor in their bedrooms featuring unicorns, princes, and princesses. They’re happy to share it with the class for the day and bring it into your room. Ask and you shall receive!

royal classroom door decor

Tip #7: Use Music in the Background for a Cheap Classroom Transformation

There are many websites that offer music for you to use for free. Utilize those websites in your classroom! I like to go onto YouTube and pull up instrumental music for whatever theme we are doing that day.

circus classroom transformation with kids working

During our Circus Day, I put on the Greatest Showman soundtrack. On Dinosaur Day, I had the Jurassic Park soundtrack going in the background. There are thousands of ideas out there for you to choose from!

Tip #8: Put up Free Background Slides

When students walk into the room during a classroom transformation, their eyes love to take it all in. Having a background slide up on your TV or projected on your whiteboard helps them focus on something instantly and know what they need to do to get to work. You can easily create your own themed background in Canva, Google Slides, or PowerPoint for students to read.

zoo classroom transformation slides for TV

Or, if you don’t want to create your own slides, you may like to use one of these 40 free classroom transformation slides for free!

Tip #9: Buying in Bulk Can Ease Costs

Amazon is also a great go-to for cheap classroom transformations. Especially when you buy in bulk! For example, let’s say I want to give each child a space-themed eraser at the end of my Outer Space Classroom Transformation. When I went to the dollar store to look for erasers, each eraser would have cost me $1. That means buying 25 erasers would cost me $25 total.

outer space erasers

If you go on Amazon, you can get cute space erasers for much cheaper because you’re buying in bulk (large quantities). Amazon has great deals when you look around the site.

Tip #10: Reuse Decorations from Past Years

My last tip for you is to save what you do buy! If you buy tablecloths for a St. Patrick’s Day classroom transformation this March, save them for next year too! It’s easy to teach kids how to refold the tablecloths so you can use them year after year.

leprechaun classroom transformation

The same concept applies to hats and other decor items. Students don’t need to take home the fire hat they got from the local fire station. Have each student clean their hat with a sanitizing wipe at the end of the day and restack it for you in a pile. Now you have hats for next year’s Firefighter Day!

I hope you found these tips helpful and are planning to try your own cheap classroom transformation! If you are interested in pre-made room transformations for grades K-5, check these out below!

What Grade Level Are You Looking For?

Kindergarten Classroom Transformations

1st Grade Classroom Transformations

2nd Grade Classroom Transformations

3rd Grade Classroom Transformations

4th Grade Classroom Transformations

5th Grade Classroom Transformations

Reading Classroom Transformations

Reading Classroom Transformation Add-On Packs

You may also enjoy this article called “10 Tips for Easy Classroom Transformations”.

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Want to add some fun decorations to your next room transformation? I’ve got you covered right here with my Classroom Transformation Decoration Lists!

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