Before I share my list of essential teacher supplies for the upcoming school year, let me share… Despite having a slightly unhealthy love affair with shiny new school supplies (just typing those words makes me float off to a happy daydream involving pointy crayons that reek of Crayola newness and perfectly-sharpened pencils with flawless little erasers), I despise the chaos that school supplies can evoke on the first day of school. If you have been teaching awhile, you know what I mean. If you are new to the classroom this year, you will thank me for sparing you a headache.
Here’s how it plays out… A classroom of kids enters, wearing their spiffy new duds, modeling their stylish new haircut, and sporting their brand-spanking new backpack full of the bounty you enlisted them to acquire via your annual “supply letter.” They are excited and they can’t wait to force upon you said backpack. Those who elected not to adhere to the list that specifically said 24 yellow, #2 pencils are especially excited to show off their collection of Minecraft pencils with (gasp) scented erasers.
Yeah, I get it. I’m not so far removed from my own brand-spanking new Trapper Keeper excitement days to have forgotten the glee it brings. But, as ringmaster of this circus, it is important for you to have a plan. A good plan. This post will share how to collect supplies, how to organize them, ways to save money on them, and a list of all the essential teacher supplies you’ll need. Check it all out below!
How to Collect Classroom Supplies in 8 Easy Steps
The first day sets the tone and it is doubtful that you want that tone to be “crazed lunatic who breaks down on day one when the Cra-Z-Arts, Sharpies, and glue sticks start coming out. So I have the solution for you. It is efficient and organized, and teachers thank me every year for this tip. Although this system may seem a bit time consuming, the lack of chaos that it will bring to your first day of school will definitely make it all worth it. Learn about it below!
1. Collect Brown Paper Bags
Start by schmoozing with the bagger at your local grocery store. If you can’t butter them up, then just go straight to the head Honcho and play the teacher card with the store manager. However you go about it, you need to get a large paper grocery sack for each child in your class. If you aren’t in the business of begging for free goodies, then just answer “paper” to the “paper or plastic” question for the next few weeks and you should be all set when school starts.
2. Write Students’ Names on the Bags
Write the children’s names in big, bold letters on the front of the bags and then place them on their desks.
3. Print and Staple Your Supply List to the Bags
Make a copy of your supply list for each child and staple it to the back of the bag. Write their name on that as well.
4. Put the Bags at the Students’ Desks Before They Arrive
Now that your bags are prepped and ready, place them on students’ desks before they arrive on the first day of school.
5. Instruct Students to Put their Supplies in their Bag
When the students arrive, instruct them to put all of their supplies into the bag on their desk, hang their backpack on their chair and sit quietly. As part of my first day of school plans, I always have Play-Doh waiting for them.
6. Collect the Bags
Collect the bags and put them out of the way. Go about your first day plans.
7. Check and Sort the Supplies at the End of the Day
Then, after the kiddos are on their way home (or if you are lucky enough to have an aide or a student teacher that can do this), sort through the supplies. Use the checklist on the bag to make sure that everything is accounted for.
8. Prep the Supplies for Classroom Use
If you are going to have them be responsible for their own supplies, then print out a sheet of labels with each child’s name on it and stick them on to each supply brought in. I suggest recruiting a parent volunteer or a former student to help with this task. If you are going to use community supplies, then put them where you want them.
3 Tips for How to Organize Classroom Supplies
Below are 3 tips for organizing your classroom supplies.
1. Opt for Individual Supplies Over Community Supplies
I usually do individual supplies. One year, I did community supplies and I hated it. Yes, I know “hate” is a strong word, but that’s how much I loathed it. In fact, I didn’t just hate it, I HATED it!!!!
My students just didn’t take care of the supplies the way that they do when the supplies are their very own. Glue sticks were dried out. Crayons were peeled and broken. Colored pencils were sharpened down to a nub. It gave me hives. After that, I went back to individual supply boxes.
2. Label All of the Supplies
There are two downfalls that come with having individual supplies, which can both be fixed by labeling all of the supplies. First is the petty arguments over who owns what. You’ve seen it. Two friends bickering because they can’t determine who owns the red colored pencil that is 3/8 of an inch longer than the other one. The second is students losing their supplies and not having what they need. Although mundane and over the top, I labeled all of my student supplies. It eliminated both of these problems.
I know what you are thinking… No brainer, right? Well, I go a step further and label all parts. This is where I might lose some of you! Instead of just writing a name or number on the box of markers, I write it on each marker AND cap. I also write it on the pencils AND the erasers. I write it on the watercolors AND the brushes. Should I admit that I label the base of the glue stick and the tube which it slides into too? I know what you might be thinking, “That is way over the top.” or “Nobody has time for that!”. However, I am a strong believer in that anytime you can find a way to proactively make your classroom run more efficiently, it pays off. Our days are so short and we simply don’t have time for distractions.
With my “thorough” labeling, I find that kids don’t spend time off task mindlessly peeling crayons or doing that annoying drill a hole in the eraser with a pencil thing, because they are accountable for their belongings. It ensures that each child is prepared for each project and not waiting for a table mate to finish up using a glue stick.
3. Store Surplus Supplies
If you have extra supplies that you do not need right away, store them in a cupboard so you can pull them out midway through the year as things break or are used up. Keep them tucked away and out of sight.
10 Tips for How to Save Money on Classroom Supplies
For some, it is the excitement of a new school year. For others, it is the fact that having the summer off equates to a surplus of hours in which to shop. Others do it out of necessity because their school or the families they work with do not provide the materials needed to run a classroom. Whatever the cause, teachers everywhere are filling carts with essential teacher supplies like markers, glue sticks, and folders. Below are some tips that may help save you some time and money!
Summer is the time of year when a trip to Target means an internal struggle for me. Part of me is so sad to see the summer fun on clearance, but another part of me is giddy over the rows and rows of unsharpened pencils, pristine composition notebooks, unbroken crayons, and shiny new glue sticks that do not yet have that dirty, grimy film on the outside.
It is so easy to get caught up in the allure of all those fabulous school supplies and walk out of the store with an abundance of Crayola products, binders, and looseleaf paper that you don’t need. Let’s face it. It’s hard to walk out of Target, or a similar store, empty-handed on a good day. When everything is being offered up for a quarter, you just don’t stand a chance. Or do you? Below are 10 tips for not overstocking or overspending on school supplies.
1. Make a List
So. very. important. Decide what you’ll need, write it down, think it through. Stick with the essential teacher supplies at first.
And then shop around for the deals.
Make a master list of the supplies you need in your classroom. Inventory your current supply. Create a shopping list to get only the items you will truly need.
Great news. I have listed everything you need in this FREE resource.
2. Stagger Your Shopping
Stores tend to put a few items on sale each week. Cross items off your shopping list a few at a time as they are marked down. You don’t have to buy all of your essential teacher supplies at once.
3. Shop Stores with 30 Day Policies
Basically, if you buy a product and it gets marked down within the next 30 days, you can bring in your receipt for a refund of the difference. The benefit to this is that you get all of your supplies before they get picked over. The downside is that you may forget to go back. Decide if it’s worth the gamble.
4. Use a Shopping App
Places like Walmart use apps to compare prices for you and pay you back the difference. For example, using the Walmart Savings Catcher app is as simple as scanning your receipt and Walmart finding lower prices for you. If a nearby competitor has that item at a cheaper advertised price, Walmart give you the money back (in the form of an electronic gift card for Walmart). It won’t work on products that are specific to that store though (ex: Cra-Z-Art is exclusive to Walmart, so you won’t be able to match that price). This saves you time instead of trying to visit multiple stores to get the best deals!
5. Plan Ahead as a Time Saver
If you find yourself buying the same items year after year, it may be a great timesaver to buy in advance. For example, I always use composition books as writer’s notebooks, binders to store each of the completed writing packets, and 3-prong folders as communication books. By buying them now for the following school year, I am able to work on them at school in the spring, so they are ready to go before school gets out.
6. Keep an Inventory of Supplies
Staple your receipts directly to it and file it for taxes. This list will also be handy next summer when you hit the stores again.
7. Avoid Impulse Buys
Set a budget and stick to it. I know it’s easier said than done. Consider determining what you will spend, put that amount into an envelope, and work strictly within that budget.
Stay out of the stores. If you don’t actually need to go buy something specific, spend your days at the beach or pool instead. At this time of year, you are far more likely to make impulse purchases for your classroom. Target Dollar Spot anyone? Just avoid the temptation.
8. Be a High-Tech Shopper
In addition to the app tip I gave you as #4, there are other ways technology is your money-saving friend. Check for upcoming sales online. A lot of stores put their circulars on their website well in advance.
Use your Smartphone to comparison shop while in the store or to pull up coupons.
Subscribe to Lakeshore’s texts or emails for weekly deals.
9. Buddy Up with Colleagues
You can often save money by buying in bulk. Team up with a teacher pal and save by buying your supplies together.
10. Take Advantage of Tax Savings
200 Essential Teacher Supplies
Below are the top 100 essential teacher supplies you’ll want to make sure you are stocked on.
- looseleaf paper
- copy paper
- drawing paper
- flair pens
- liquid chalk
- electric pencil sharpener
- binder clips paper clips
- hand held hole punch 3 hole punch
- index cards
- paper trimmer
- guillotine paper cutter
- correction fluid
- sticky notes
- rubber bands
- letter sized envelopes
- large manila envelopes
- 2-sided tape
- electrical tape (for dividing white boards)
- painter’s tape (does not damage walls)
- magnetic tape
- velcro tape
- packing tape
- washi tape
- duct tape
- staple remover
- push pins
- Sticky Tack
- mounting squares
- hot glue gun
- hot glue sticks
- Command Hooks
Classroom Decor Items
- fadeless paper or fabric for bulletin boards
- bulletin board trim
- contact paper
- die cut letters
- pocket charts
- name plates for students desks or tables
- name tags for lockers and cubbies
- alphabet strip (printing &/or cursive)
- area rugs
- corner rounder
- pinking shears
- pencil boxes
- pencil pouch
- colored pencils
- water color paints
- pocket folders
- folders with prongs
- spiral notebooks
- composition notebooks
- glue sticks
- liquid glue
- individual dry erase boards
Teacher Odds and Ends
- rubber stamps
- ink pads
- E-Z grader
- date stamps
- personalized note cards
- thank you notes
- personal laminator
- laminating pouches
- prize jar trinkets
- birthday treats
- lost tooth baggies
lost tooth certificates
- homework certificates
- missing work slips
- name tags
- sentence strips
- chart paper
- books for class library
- personal calendar
- notebook for meetings
- plan book
Indoor and Outdoor Recess
- drawing books
- coloring books
- beads and string
- I Spy Books
- blocks / building toys
- supplies for arts/crafts
- jump ropes
- sidewalk chalk
- hula hoops
- a whistle
Supplies for Organizing
- bins to collect folders/homework/etc.
- bins to collect completed assignments
- buckets or bins to organize your library
- plastic caddies if you do community supplies
- plastic drawers
- hanging crates
- gallon-sized zip-top bags
- sandwich-sized zip-top bags
- snack-sized zip-top bags
- file folders
- hanging file folders
- 3-prong folders
- page protectors
- dividers with tabs
- adhesive tabs
Supplies for Cleaning
- paper towels or reusable rags
- all purpose spray cleaner
- baby wipes
- shaving cream (makes desk “cleaning” fun)
- chalkboard and whiteboard cleaner spray
- contractor bags (large, sturdy trash bags)
- boxes for donations when decluttering
Supplies for Staying Healthy
- anti-bacterial soap w/ a pump
- anti-bacterial wipes
- hand sanitizer
- Lysol spray
- ice pack – kids are convinced it cures everything
- construction paper
- card stock
- scrapbook paper
- oil pastels
- egg cartons
- clay / Play-Dough / Model Magic
- magazines to cut up
- pipe cleaners
- popsicle sticks
- tissue paper
- wiggly eyes
- styrofoam trays (great for paint)
- items for counting
- base 10 blocks / place value blocks
- flash cards
- pattern blocks
- linking cubes / snap cubes / Unifix cubes
- plastic links / Learn n Link
- geometric solids
- balance scales
- hundred charts / 120 charts number lines
- color tiles
- playing cards
- two-color counters
- abacus / rekenrek
- Cuisenaire rods
- dry erase place
- value charts
- coffee mug
- emergency lunch (i.e. can of soup) bottled water
- dorm-sized fridge
- family photos
- plastic vase with flowers
- Tylenol / Advil / Etc.
- “feminine” items
- lip gloss / chapstick
- nail file
- hair elastics
- a change of clothes
- a hairbrush toothbrush/toothpaste
- lint roller
- cough drops
In closing, we hope you found this list of 200 essential teacher supplies helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts: