What can you get for pound;50?

Where's the best place to get good, cheap resources for the classroom? We gave four trainees pound;50 each and sent them out to find the most interesting and best-value resources for their teacher placements using three different retail routes. Gail Robinson audited their accounts


PGCE student Hazel King went to rifle through her local high street stores in Sutton, Surrey, in search of bargains. She is taking a secondary course in German and French at Kingston University and has found herself regularly buying goodies to hand out during her placement at Stafford college of technology and the arts in Caterham.

"If you want something that the kids won't have seen before then you have to spend some money," says Hazel.

back in the classroom Hazel used the newspaper as a basis for German lessons for KS4 pupils. "At this level they need to understand the politics of the country as well as the language, so a newspaper is a useful resource," explained Hazel.

The washing line, pegs and letters were put to inventive use. Hazel found it was a great way of looking at word and sentence construction: "You peg up individual letters or words and get the children to put them into the right order. It's particularly good for German where the sentence construction is alien to us".

Supermarket Lidl is home to all manner of strange German foodstuffs that Hazel took into the classroom to create a veritable feast for her pupils.

She described each item in German and then allowed her pupils to tuck in.

HAZEL'S SHOPPING LIST German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine pound;2.10

(from newspaper stall)

Speechless game pound;2.50

(from charity shop)

Washing line pound;12.00


Plastic letters

Plastic storage boxes

Assorted reward stickers

(from Wilkinson)

Laminating pockets x 2 boxes pound;15

Rude French - French slang book

Everyday German - conversational German book

(from Sussex Stationers)

Magnetic letters playset pound;10

Cardboard clock

(from Early Learning Centre)

Salami pound;9.65

Smoked ham and cheese

Marzipan Stollen cake biscuits

Haribo sweeties

(from Lidl)TOTAL pound;51.25


Fay Childs, 25-year-old PGCE primary student at Homerton college, Cambridge, reckoned her pound;50 could be best spent at a local car boot sale. She's a regular car booter and already has a loft packed full of her "bargains".

"I'm always on the look out for stuff, even though the schools already have a lot of resources," admits Hazel. "By bringing your own resources in, you can personalise the lessons and make it more interesting for you and the children."

Samson makes his sums add up Fay found these items a great help at her teacher placement in Henham Ugley primary school in Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire. The paintbrushes were put to good use for water painting. "The children paint using only water," explains Fay. "They can experiment with number and letter writing to help develop gross motor skills, which then leads on to fine motor skills when they start to use crayons and pencils."

The conch shell was a big success and led to some "lovely sea-orientated discussions" in class. One reception pupil is slightly autistic and he was fascinated by the sound it made pressed to his ear.

And just in case you're wondering how a sheepdog hand-puppet comes in useful, apparently Fay uses him as an alter ego in numeracy and literacy lessons. He's called Samson and he asks for help from the children to get his sums and spelling right.

Fay's shopping list

3 Disney books pound;1

Road map rug pound;4

Playmobil trucks x 3 pound;12

Teddy 50p

Little trolley 50p

Pick and mix sweet shop pound;4

Fluffy Alsatian pound;2

Assorted fabrics pound;1 Giant and small foam floor puzzles pound;3 Toy

pram and pushchair pound;8

Selection of paintbrushes pound;3

Large conch shell pound;1

Sheepdog hand puppet pound;5

Toy drum and xylophone pound;1TOTAL pound;46.00


Housemates and primary PGCE students at Exeter University, Sarah Moore and Catherine Gray spent their pound;50 at the online auction house .

They're both regular eBay shoppers but there are drawbacks to buying this way. You have to be patient and you have to wait for the auction to end before you find out if you've made the winning bid.

Sarah also cautions online shoppers to watch out for postage charges.

"Sometimes the postage costs are more expensive than the items themselves," she says.

stick insects go down a storm The inflatable globe proved particularly popular in the classroom. It was passed around the children so they could see where we are in the world in relation to other countries.

The 1921 games compendium book was a bargain, Sarah plans to use it as part of history lessons to find out if children still play the same sort of games as their great grandparents did 80 years ago. The At Home text books are also an easy way into history for children of today.

And what of the stick insects? Well they went down a storm in a mini-beast lesson.

"And because they're real, the children get the chance to think and talk about animal welfare," explained Sarah.

The ebay shopping list

Thematic Poems, songs and Fingerplays book pound;3.45

Collection of 8 children's books (nursery school age) pound;2.70

Maths balancing game pound;3.50

Inflatable extra large globe pound;4.20

Victorian style spinning top pound;6.50

Games for the playground, home, school and gymnasium book (dated 1921)


10 Indian stick insects pound;1.70

Eyewitness Encyclopaedia of Nature CD pound;1.00A

t Home in 1900At School in 1900 textbooks 99p

1940s Collins' School Atlas pound;2.00

Tricks and Games with Paper book pound;1.04


GRAND TOTAL pound;53.47

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