8 Elementary Teacher Must Haves That Will Surprise You – 2024

This list of elementary teacher must haves is sure to have some surprises on it! Some of them are everyday tools that we may not have originally thought of as needing for school, but they are a total game changer. Read below to learn about these simple tools that become total elementary teacher must haves in my classroom!

8 Elementary Teacher Must Haves

Below are 8 elementary teacher must haves you may not expect.

1. Personal Laminator and 8.5 x 11 Thermal Pouches

The first on the list of elementary teacher must haves is a personal laminator with thermal pouches. I have now owned and LOVED the Scotch Thermal Laminator for several years and it is still working just as great as the day I bought it. And it has seen A LOT of use!

I initially hesitated to buy a personal laminator because the school had one, but we didn’t have access to it. If we wanted to make something shiny and durable, we needed to be granted permission to do so. Then we had to wait for the authorized laminating individual to run it through the machine. Let’s be honest, when we print off a new math game or set of task cards, the LAST thing we want to do is wait three days until they can be sneezed on and wiped clean.

The laminator is super light so it’s easy to bring to and from school. I ultimately bought a second one so I wouldn’t need to bring it back and forth.

Having my own laminator and buying laminating pouches when they were on sale actually saved me money. It certainly saved me time! Plus, I always stock up on laminating pouches whenever they are on sale. In addition to the laminator making my resources more durable, the kids always took more care when using them because they felt much fancier. I loved not needing to reprint color cards, small charts and games each year because they stood up to even the most fidgety hands.

2. Staple Remover

The second on the list of elementary teacher must haves are staple removers.

There are staple removers. And then there are STAPLE REMOVERS. I used to own one of those “claws.” You know… the kind that not only tear the paper you are removing from a bulletin board, but also all the cork behind it and maybe even some of the drywall behind the bulletin board.

Then, I received a quality staple remover as a gift. It improved my life greatly! It makes popping staples out so simple. The best part is that there is a little button that slides all of the collected staples off at once.

staple remover

3. Magnetic Dry Erase Markers

The third on the list of elementary teacher must haves are magnetic dry erase markers.

I know we are in the age of Smartboards and such, but I still use my dry erase board regularly. And when it comes to using the dry erase boards, I adore these dry erase markers! I love them because of the reasons listed below.

  • They are magnetic. They stick to the board, people (and yes, as one who teaches Magnetism as a science unit I do know magnets don’t “stick” and the correct word is “attract,” but attract didn’t work in the sentence).
  • Look at the colors! Aqua? Hot Pink? I love it!
  • They are 2 in 1 markers. This is especially useful for visually organizing what you are writing. Simply flip the marker over in your hand and you have an entirely different marker to write with.
  • They are inexpensive and can be shipped right to my door.
  • These are the BEST to use for writing on my Must Do May Do Board because I can record the different subjects in varying colors.

The official name for them is Board Dudes Double-Sided Magnetic Dry Erase Markers, Assorted Colors 4-Pack. I often buy them at Target, but they are also available on Amazon.

magnetic dry erase markers

4. Corner Rounder

One of the elementary teacher must haves on this list that has played a big role in my classroom makeover is my corner rounder.

If you don’t have one then I do suggest you run to the nearest craft store with a few dollars and some spare change in your hand because they are fairly cheap, but pack a big punch (corny joke intended).

paper with rounded corners and paper with sharp corners

I use it to snip the corners of student work before displaying them. It gives a really nice finished look! I use in on my signs. I use it on labels. It’s handy dandy and addictive. You’ll never have right angles in your room again.

This little gizmo was a favorite of mine back in my scrapbooking days. Now, it is a favorite classroom tool. It’s just a simple little Corner Rounder , but it creates a nice, finished look on papers. I use it on student work that is being displayed as well as on just about anything else that has a square corner and needs a bit of pizzazz. 

It’s really easy to use. You just slide the corner of the page into it and push down with your thumb. My kids often do it themselves. I have one that I use myself and another that I make accessible to my students in our writing center.

There are a lot of different versions available, but this corner rounder is the one I have and love. I’ve been using it for 8+ years without any problems.

5. Foam Brushes

Today I am here to share my love of “the foam paintbrush.” Have you used these before? I love them for me and I also love them for my students. That’s why I knew I had to add them to this list of elementary teacher must haves!

When I am preparing my classroom for the new year I like to get my craft on. I used to do a major classroom theme each year. Some examples are beach, camping, Hollywood, detective/mystery, western and jungle themes. If you are considering a theme for next year, be sure to check out my full list of classroom decor themes. I have 50+ themes! I switched over to a classroom color scheme a few years ago. Read all about my colorful classroom ideas to learn how colors in the learning environment impact students! In addition to the printable materials I make for my classroom, I also go to town with ribbon and scrapbook paper and other crafty items. When I am decorating my classroom, these brushes are my BFF.

foam brushes

First and foremost, they are crazy cheap. They are often on sale at AC Moore for $0.10 each (with the 15% teacher discount on top of that). They are a great size for both big and small projects. The shape of the tip makes it easy to get into little spots. It helps get paint on evenly. And my most favorite thing is using it for Modge Podge projects.

The students use them for painting projects. They are really good for scenery and larger scale items. The handle helps with fine motor and keeping little hands clean.

They wash easily. Admittedly, I’ve also been known to toss them after using them (depending on the project).

6. Pinking Shears

Many moons ago I switched from using those rolls of paper to cover my bulletin boards to fabric. I highly recommend fabric because of the 10 reasons below.

  • A fabric background looks great year after year.
  • It is a lot easier to work with.
  • It doesn’t get those crazy paper creases.
  • You can iron any creases that do show up.
  • It rarely fades.
  • It doesn’t tear.
  • There are more options for colors and patterns.
  • Staples can be removed without leaving visible holes.
  • It can be cheaper (especially if you use twin size flat bed sheets from Walmart)
  • it can be folded neatly to store.

I had always used my classroom scissors to cut the fabric. They worked, but sometimes it was a struggle and I have been known to need to patch a side or corner because I became impatient and tried to slide them up the fabric. I don’t sew, but I own Pinking Shears because they are great for craft projects. I had brought them into school to cut some ribbon and decided to use them on some fabric I was hanging on a bulletin board. It was a “why didn’t I think of that before” moment. They cut quickly and neatly and leave a fun zigzag border. These became one of my favorite elementary teacher must haves!

teacher using pinking sheers to cut bulletin board fabric

Speaking of hanging fabric on a bulletin board, here are them steps I follow to do so:

  1. Hang it before cutting it. If the fabric has a brighter side and a faded side, put the brighter side facing the board. Start in the top corner and align the corner of your fabric with the corner of the board. Put in a staple or push pin to secure it.
  2. While smoothing it out with one hand, add another staple/pin a few inches over on the top and a few inches down on the side. Continue to smooth and pull diagonally while attaching it on the top and side. Add a few staples/pins down the other side and along the bottom.
  3. Use chalk or a pencil to draw lines down the opposite side you started with an along the bottom. At this point you can remove the entire piece of fabric to cut it or just remove the staples/pins along the sides with the line and cut it while it’s still attached to the wall. With the Pinking Shears this is an easy option.

7. Silly Sticks

Confession: I never would’ve survived as a teacher back in the day when writing on a chalkboard with actual chalk was required. I hate the feel of it. I don’t like the dust from it. But, I do LOVE the look of it.

That’s one of the reasons wet chalk markers make me so happy. They look amazing, but don’t get dusty or smudgy like actual chalk.

I especially enjoy these SillySticks because not only can you use them on chalkboards, but also white boards and glass. Since wall space is often limited in a classroom, they are great for writing on windows both for decorative and teaching purposes. You can also use them to write on plastic or other nonporous surfaces. I like using them for writing messages on students desks or tables. They are great for writing the students’ names on desks for a substitute teacher. Also, the colors are really bright, bold and fun! That’s why I knew I had to add these to my list of elementary teacher must haves!

silly sticks

8. Electric Pencil Sharpener

The last tool on this list of elementary teacher must haves is an electric pencil sharpener. This is by far the best pencil sharpener for the classroom. It’s as quiet as a pencil sharpener can be. It’s lightning fast which makes it a teacher time saver. Best of all, it sharpens pencils in a way that provides a perfect point that doesn’t easily break.

My former neighbor had one and I always bypassed my sharpener and went next door to use the one in her classroom. She moved to a different school and sadly took it with her.

electric pencil sharpener

I’ve been wanting to order one of my own for awhile and I’m embarrassed to say that the only reason I finally logged on to do so was because the ridiculous hand held sharpener (you know the ones that don’t even catch the shavings) I have been using at home for years (sadly, I’m not exaggerating) lost a battle with my daughter’s crayons and could no longer be used to (sort of) make a point on a pencil. Seriously, a whittling knife would’ve worked better.

I kick myself for not getting this pencil sharpener sooner!

In closing, I hope you found this list of elementary teacher must haves helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

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