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Free things for your students & classroom

This information was compiled from information gathered by the National Education Association, the U.S. Department of Education and WEAC.

For another list of free resources, visit the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Resources for Education Excellence (FREE) Web site.


  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers a free online resource, globalization101.org, to teach high school students about policy aspects of globalization related to civics, economics, geography and history. Globalization101.org provides easily understandable information and related lesson plans to teach about cross-disciplinary subjects such as international trade, world-wide health and environmental issues and global technological changes. The site includes 11 in-depth issue briefs, more than 70 news analyses, and teachers' resource section with lesson plans and alignments to Wisconsin standards.
  • The Operation FitKids™ Youth Fitness Curriculum (a $99.95 value) is provided at no cost to health and fitness educators as a public service of the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The Operation FitKids Curriculum is designed for educators looking to integrate health and fitness into classroom learning. This seven-lesson module was developed to teach the extreme dangers of being overweight and the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle. It is designed for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. For more details, visit the ACE Web site.
  • Ocean Explorer provides educators with a free CD-ROM of its Web site for use in the classroom when an Internet connection is not available. The CD-ROM also includes more than 130 lesson plan ideas.
  • Building Homes of Our Own is an interactive teaching tool for the middle school classroom. The game presents a the entire home building process from site selection to final sale. Players collect information, solve problems and make choices as they build a 3D home on a budget. Players then review credit applications and sell to the buyer of their choice. The program is part of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) ongoing educational outreach initiative, in partnership with the National Housing Endowment, Freddie Mac, and the Fannie Mae Foundation. Visit www.homesofourown.org.
  • Order a free education kit, which includes a 30-page Teacher Resource Guide, plus a 19 1/4" x 31" full-color museum quality poster reproduction of the “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart for your classroom. Visit www.georgewashington.si.edu.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing is offering a free interactive CD-ROM and a poster about U.S. currency and the $20 bill. Go to MoneyFactory.com.
  • TheTeachersGuide.com offers free educational software printable worksheets and education-themed clip art. The site also contains lesson plans, thematic units and other classroom activity ideas.
  • Your students can participate in a virtual frog dissection, tour the solar system, visit the Eiffel Tower and other famous landmarks, take a dinosaur safari and learn more about The Holocaust by visiting the Online Exhibits Hotlist.
  • Cabela's provides 5,000 educational posters annually for use in classrooms about the Iditarod. Visit Cabela's Web site to request a poster for your classroom.
  • The Fund for Animals offers a variety of teaching and classroom aides about animal issues. Elementary teachers can request a free subscription to a quarterly newsletter, Animal Crusader. Each issue focuses on a different animal-related topic, and includes games and learning activities. Middle and high school teachers can receive a class set of 35 copies of another quarterly newsletter, Animal Free Press. The fund also offers free pamphlets, books, songbooks and posters.
  • The U.S. Geological Society offers free or low-cost education materials to educators through its Web site. The USGA has maps, informational booklets, CD-ROMs, teaching packets and fact sheets available.
  • Office supplies, building materials, software, children's clothing, and much more are available through Gifts In Kind International. Schools can receive donations through their PTA. For an application and brochure, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Gifts In Kind International, 333 North Fairfax, Alexandria, VA 22314. For details, call 703/836-2121.
  • The IRS provides high schools with tax-education materials that walk students through completing tax forms. Visit the IRS Web site.
  • The United Nations offers a kit that details the inner workings of the UN-and describes how to get other educational materials on world issues. Send a postcard to United Nations Public Inquiries Unit, Room GA-57, United Nations, New York, NY 10017. You may also request the materials online by visiting the UN's Web site.
  • "The American Jury: Bulwark of Democracy" is an online resource guide for teachers, students, and citizens devoted to explaining the American jury system and its role in American legal, social, and political life. It features lessons, information, and resources developed by the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago with high school teachers from California, Colorado, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Illinois in cooperation with national experts and scholars on the jury system.
  • A&E Television Networks has several free teacher resources including a bi-annual magazine, The Idea Book for Educators, which includes teachers' guides for programs featured in A&E Classroom programming.
  • Drillmasters gives away one free pair of its shoes to marching band directors with no obligations to buy. Call 800/233-6737.
  • The Center for Digital Education's Converge Online is an e-mail magazine with feature articles and news about education policy and technology. To subscribe, visit http://www.centerdigitaled.com/converge/.
  • NASA's Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) was established for the national and international distribution of NASA-produced audiovisual education materials. Catalogs are available at http://core.nasa.gov/.
  • NASA "Why?" Files is a series of 60-minute broadcasts, problem-based activities, an educator's guide, and web resources designed students in Grades 3-5.
  • NASAexplores presents new lessons each week -- including articles, learning activities, and background information for teachers and students -- on topics related to space. Airport efficiency, motion sickness, housekeeping in space, the international space station, prevention of human error, seeing what can't be seen, asteroids, and use of light to speed recovery from illnesses are among the more than 30 topics.
  • The Foundation Center home page on the Internet is packed with information on foundation and corporate grantmakers. Also included are listings of publications and training opportunities for novice grantseekers. Write to the Foundation Center at 79 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10003-3076, 212/620-4230.
  • Booklets (maximum of 25 per order) on health topics, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, tuberculosis, stress, and nutrition & fitness are available free from the Will Rogers Institute, 10045 Riverside Drive, 3rd Fl., Toluca Lake CA, 91602, 1-888-755-7575.
  • The U.S. Tennis Association provides free equipment, technical assistance, and teacher training workshops in an effort to introduce students to tennis. For more information, send an e-mail to jamison@usta.com.
  • The Time of the Lincolns, a companion Web site to the film Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, examines the context and conflicts surrounding the Civil War. Topics include the partisan politics of the time, the battle for abolition, the Underground Railroad, African American troops, and women's rights. The site offers soldiers' letters, newspaper articles, and other primary sources, along with a teacher's guide. (supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities)
  • Visit the American Heart Association's Web site for teaching guides and classroom activity ideas on nutrition, the importance of physical activity, living tobacco-free, and maintaining a healthy heart.
  • Adopt-A-Class. Teachers Jean Wasson and Amy Young ask family members at Forest Heights Elementary School in Harrison, Arkansas, to adopt a class for as little as $10 a month. "I've received $200 already within the first three months of school," says Wasson, who used the money to buy books and supplies. For details, contact them at 501/741-5837.
  • The Yes I Can Foundation For Exceptional Children awards minigrants of up to $500 each to teachers or related service providers who have a great idea for teaching children with special learning needs. Each year the foundation awards five to ten minigrants. For more information, visit the foundation's Web site.
  • Reading Planet is designed to help families and children explore the world of books. It features an annotated list of 1,000 children's books that can be browsed by age group, author, or category (e.g., popular, classic, award winning). Children can post reviews of their favorite books and read reviews by others. The site, offered by Reading Is Fundamental, Inc., also provides learning activities, articles for adults, and interviews with authors. (Department of Education)

  • The Educator's Guide to Smithsonian Publications ($5) lists lesson plans, posters, videos, teaching packets, and other materials available for free or little cost from the Smithsonian Institution's many museums. Contact Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, Arts & Industries Bldg., MRC 402, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012. The guide can be ordered online by visiting http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/.
  • The Smithsonian Museum offers guides that suggest ways teachers can use museums to teach writing, art, design, science, technology, history and culture. The guides provide background essays, lesson plans, handouts, and student writing samples. They are available online at the Smithsonian Web site.
  • The National Museum of Natural History's teaching packet for anthropology includes suggestions for in-class and field activities such as mother-infant observation and exploring historic cemeteries. Contact Anthropology Outreach and Public Information Office, National Museum of Natural History, Room 363, MRC 112, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, 202/357-1592, or visit the Anthropology Outreach Office Web site.
  • The Edison Teaching Kit contains how-to instructions for 82 science experiments appropriate for students in grades 4-8. Each hands-on experiment includes simple directions and requires inexpensive materials. Download the kit at The Charles Edison Fund Web site.
  • For a free guide on forming a student earth/animal protection club in your school, along with a sample copy of the student newsletter KIND (Kids in Nature's Defense) News, contact NAHEE, Dept. FF, P.O. Box 362, East Haddam, CT 06423, or visit the KIND News Web site.
  • "Triggering Positive Health Choices," a free videotape and teacher's guide to help kids learn about peer pressure and decision-making, is available from Met Life, Health and Safety Education, One Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010-3690.
  • The National Postal Museum offers a postal pack for elementary and middle school students. It includes illustrated activity sheets that promote letter writing and details on stamps and historic letters. Download the postal pack in printer-friendly PDF format from the National Postal Museum Web site.
  • At the Miami Museum of Science Web site elementary students can learn to make 3D glasses to view Web images of Hurricane Andrew, and follow directions to make a diagram of a hurricane.
  • Microsoft provides educators with lesson plan ideas and clip art through its Web site, www.microsoft.com/education/schools/aspx.com.
  • The U.S. Department of Education's Web page contains a wealth of information on grants available to educators. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is the official directory of federal grant programs, with a listing of more than 1,500.
  • Polaris, a grants assistance program, will contract with schools to design and write grant proposals. For information on writing grant proposals or Polaris' services, visit http://polarisgrantscentral.net/.
  • School districts located near a Boeing Company office in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, or Washington can apply for a grant to receive free equipment, technical assistance, or funding for a special project. For more information, visit the Boeing Web site.
  • Many book publishers provide book samples -- often from publisher overruns and returns -- to economically disadvantaged schools. Check your library for a directory of book publishers, or visit the Sabre Foundation's directory of book donation organizations.
  • The U.S. Chess Federation offers informational booklets and promotional materials to help school chess programs get started. Write to Scholastic Department, 3054 N.Y.S. Route 9W, New Windsor, NY 12553, (845) 561-2437, or visit the USCF Web site.
  • The Children's Book Council offers 75 Authors & Illustrators Kids Should Know and 13 Exciting Reading Activities for Children. The materials, plus many other resources, are available on the CBC Web site.
  • For tips on starting newspapers for students in grades 1-6, contact the National Elementary Schools Press Association, Mark Levin, Carolina Day School, 1345 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville, NC 28803, (828) 274-0758 ext. 385, or visit www.nespa.org.
  • "Grants for School Districts," a biweekly newsletter, reports on public and private grants specifically for schools. Cost: $187 year. E-mail updates and access to a Web version of the newsletter are included in the price. For a free trial subscription (two issues), contact Quinlan Publishing at 800/229-2084.

  • Education Grants Alert, a weekly newsletter on funding opportunities for K-12 schools, features early notice of federal and private grants, detailed program descriptions, and tips on grant seeking. Cost: $486/year. Call LRP Publications at 800/341-7874.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers curriculum resources on recycling and conservation, grant opportunities and ideas for community service projects. Visit www.epa.gov/teachers.
  • National Gallery of Art loans slides, audio cassettes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, videos and teaching packets to educators to facilitate art education in the classroom. To search a listing of available resources, visit the NGA Web site.
  • The University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants offers free posters to K-12 teachers. Visit its Web site to learn how to request your posters.
  • Many local public television stations offer free education services to educators, including a National Teacher Training Institute. Station trainers help teachers and media specialists integrate quality television and other technologies into the curriculum. To learn more, visit PBS on the Web or contact PBS at 1330 Braddock Pl., Alexandria, VA 22314, 703/739-5000.
  • Order your free National Wildlife Week poster from the National Wildlife Foundation by visiting the organization's Web site.
  • Aplusmath.com has an online tool that lets teachers and parents create and print math flashcards, and other resources to help students with basic math.
  • Grants for Schools: How To Find and Win Funds for K-12 Programs by Jacqueline Ferguson details more than 100 grants available specifically for schools. Included are checklists, charts, and step-by-step tips on reaching out to grantors and developing proposals. The book is available on Amazon.com.
  • The Grantseeker's Handbook of Essential Internet Sites is a map to finding grant information on the Internet. The book includes addresses of more than 750 sites. $99. Order from Amazon.com.
  • Unbelievably Good Deals That You Absolutely Can't Get Unless You're a Teacher by Barry Harrington and Beth Christensen. $12.95 from Contemporary Books, Inc., Two Prudential Plaza, Chicago, IL, 60601-6970. Or, order online from the McGraw-Hill Professional Bookstore.
  • Children's book author Jan Brett has a special free packet for teachers and librarians. Request your packet by writing to Jan Brett, P.O. Box 366, Norwell, MA 02061.