Recently I had a teacher come to my room to observe my math block.
She was a fairly new teacher and wants to start math centers, but isn't sure where to start... She was so overwhelmed by the idea of having enough STUFF for her kids.
I have been thinking about this ever since, and have come up with a list...
Start simple. Look at what materials you already have.
(Things like puzzles, math flash cards, wipe math boards, etc.)
Think "frugal". If you are looking to slowly expand your resources, check out Dollar Tree... check out the dollar section at Target. Look at the clearance at WalMart. (Especially since all of these "discount" and "big box stores" have teacher/school sections these days, you might be surprised by what you will find-- flash cards, simple file-folder-type games, card games, etc.)
Here are a few examples-- all of these were $1 or less!
Ask for donations. If you don't ask, they won't think to offer. Sometimes parents have learning games that they think their kids have outgrown but are really perfect for independent practice.
My fiancé and I have recently discovered the wonderful world of THRIFTING! It's great. I have found SO MANY games (some even VERY gently used--) and math books! You do have to be willing to look through a giant shelf of unorganized children's books, and some are in better quality than others, but they are a great value. (I found some great counting books for$0.79 each last Saturday at Savers!) The hard part is, it's unpredictable.
Write a grant. Many school districts have mini-grants. Donors Choose (http://www.donorschoose.org/) is a great organization, and of course there is 100% for Kids (http://100percentforkids.org/). (There are others!)
Scholastic has $1 sales! Sometimes they are actual games (premade) and sometimes they are e-books. Some of my favorite games have come from the $1 sale. I receive emails from Scholastic to know when their sales are on. Scholastic Book Orders are also a GREAT way to earn points for your class to buy books and learning games!
And then, of course, use your online buddies: Pinterest and of course Teachers Pay Teachers!
Have a fantastic day!