Like many teachers, I’m reporting back to school soon. My classroom has changed and I’ve been told that all of my furniture and supplies have been moved to a new location. At some point next week I’ll enter the school, grab a new set of keys and find an unassembled room full of boxes. It’s overwhelming at first. I’ll probably spend the first few hours just unpacking and setting up shop.
I’ll be bringing my own supplies like I usually do at this time of the school year. I try to be somewhat minimal with what I purchase each year as I tend to move classrooms almost every year. Also, my district provides a sum of money for classroom purchases and this is where I spend the bulk of that funding. For the past few years or so I tend to get a staple items that are standard in my room. This post will highlight what I tend to purchase before school and the reasoning behind it. It’s also a good reminder for me to look back at and reference (think next August). The supplies work for me and I’m not affiliated in any way with the companies involved with the products. This post actually stemmed from the whole #clearthelist initiative that seems to making the rounds on Twitter. As I look over those lists I wonder what’s truly needed and what’s considered a priority purchase.
To give context context, I teach multiples sections of math to different grade levels. I have around 100 kids pass through my door each day along with four different grade levels.
I tend to purchase one of these notebooks for each student. I try to color code them so that a certain grade level is a specific color. That doesn’t always work as it depends on the supply they have at Big Lots or Walmart. These notebooks are primarily used for student math journals. Students write about their math experience, take notes and reflect on assessments within the journal. Since I loop with the students they keep this journal for three years. At the end of fifth grade they take the journal home.
Each student also gets a folder. I usually get the folders and notebooks at the same place around the end of July. The folders are color coded based on the grade level. I usually purchase the cheap ones that don’t include special hole punches or brads. Students grab these folders when they enter the classroom and their morning routine work is located inside. Students take and return these folders from the same place when they arrive and leave the classroom. The folders barely last one whole year.
These popsicle sticks/tongue depressors are winners in my book. I get a large back from Hobby Lobby, but I’m sure you can also find them at other places. I organize them by color and assign each group a grade level. I use white address labels to print out the names on my roster and attach them to the sticks, folders and math journals. These sticks are used to group students or randomly pick a student for a response.
Like many teacher, I tend to grade using some type of Flair pen (long live the Flair!). The problem is that it’s not erasable and I haven’t found one that works for me. When I make a typo or error with the Flair I dig out this. They cover the mistake and I’m able to write over it without issue. I gave up the liquid white-out a long time ago as I can’t wait for it to dry – my issue.
I’m a fan of the Sharpie pen. I use these for grading or for taking notes. Love that it doesn’t bleed through my notebook. Was able to get this on Amazon for a decent deal about a week ago. A 12 pack will last me all school year and then some. I ration these and keep them under lock and key.
Last year I ran out of pencils around March. This year I’m trying to be a bit proactive and ordered 150 pre-sharped pencils from Amazon. I almost went with golf pencils, but decided to go with a regular size. I have a pencil jar/bin that’s for anyone that needs one. I try to keep it stocked up as much as possible, but usually after a few months I see pencils that are on life support as you can’t even jam them into a pencil sharpener. I’m going to put our a few each week and then resupply them the following week. Like that they’re pre-sharped as students don’t have to line-up to sharpen them and lose out on time in class.
I found this stool at Harbor Freight about a week ago. This will be perfect for my small group table. It has wheels which is a major bonus in my view. Last year I remember kneeling down or bending over to work with my early elementary students. This might be another flexible way to get to my students during small group time.
My third grade students have been creating paper roller coasters for the last five years. I keep on going back and getting another copy because of how much teamwork, math and creativity it showcases. The booklet comes with different colored yardstick. Students basically follow the instructions and create different parts of the roller coaster track. Students will need to fold, score, cut and tape the tracks together to create the final project. It takes my students almost the entire year to create the entire coaster. Students work on this after they finish independent work or during small snippets of scheduled time throughout the year.
Every classroom is different and each teacher has their own supplies that they can’t live without. This post highlight just a few staples that I tend to get before the year starts.