By: Natalie Ringold, Always Upper Elementary
Now that it is August, back to school season is officially here! When I was in elementary school, my favorite thing was buying new school supplies for the school year. Even now as a teacher, I still love buying fresh, new supplies for my classroom.
Before I tell you about my favorite products, here are two tips for buying school supplies:
*Tip 1: Make sure you get a tax exempt account for Amazon and/or Target. The process is relatively easy–you simply need to get your tax exempt form from your PTO or office admin. Then, you can follow the steps online for Target, Amazon, or other stores to get your purchases for your classroom free of tax. I created separate accounts with Target and Amazon purely for my school/tax exempt use. That way, I don’t have to worry about mixing my personal account with my professional/tax exempt account.
*Tip 2: Put aside enough school supplies in your cabinet for 3 or 4 new students that may be added to your class throughout the year. When new students are added to our classrooms, we usually do not have much time to prepare. You will save yourself time and prevent stress if you make 3 or 4 sets of school supplies for new students at the beginning of the year.
Stadium Plastic Cups
I LOVE using these cups for my community school supplies. For example, when students need to borrow crayons from the community supply bin, they simply grab a blue cup and fill it with the crayons they need. Then, they take the cup to their spot and return it when they are done. It is a simple way to keep track of materials and divide up community supplies.
Stylus Pens for Student iPads
If your students use iPads, these stylus pens are a game changer! Students can navigate their iPads with ease while also drawing and writing more clearly. These are also a great price, so if students lose their stylus, then it is inexpensive to replace.
Carpet Spot Velcro Circles
These carpet spot circles are so easy and convenient to use. I love marking my Morning Meeting spots on the floor with these velcro circles. That way, every day our circle is the same and spacing is not an issue. Also, these come in a pack of 30 for only $10. They do not damage carpet and are easy to move around if you need to change their placement.
Individual Whiteboard Erasers
These erasers work very well and look nice! However, I have an important tip! Last year, I bought these erasers in the bright blue color because they are super cute. However, I instantly regretted it because my students drew on the blue parts of the erasers. Even after I addressed it with the entire class, black marker lines and smudges appeared all over the erasers and they looked dirty. This year, I have learned from my mistake and I will be buying all black erasers! Learn from my mistake and buy the black ones right off the bat! ;)
With this adhesive magnetic tape, you can stick almost anything on your whiteboard. It is convenient, easy to use, and effective! It is also nice to be able to make the strips as long or as short as you want.
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
It is surprising how helpful these magic erasers are in the classroom! I have used these to remove sticky (and honestly disgusting…) residue left on my student desks and they were a lifesaver! I have also used them to remove difficult stains and clean my whiteboards. My whiteboards have never looked so crisp and fresh!
I use this desk bell to signal to my students to rotate during our math centers. It is loud, but not startling. It is the perfect size and price for only $5. It is a great way to switch up your attention getters, save your voice, and build solid routines in your classroom.
Multicolor LED Light Bar with Remote Control
If you want to add some fun flair to your classroom, this is the product for you! This light bar is only $5 and can be used vertically or horizontally. I purchased three for my classroom and my students love choosing different colors for the lights. The lights are not distracting, but are a fun addition that makes the classroom feel welcoming and “cool” for 10 year olds. :) There are many different settings that you can take advantage of and the remote is easy to use.
Guided Reading Strip Bookmarks
Some of my students really appreciate having these bookmarks to use in the classroom. In the past, I have had students with dyslexia use them as an accommodation. I am buying a small set this year to use with individual students that I think need this extra support. Also, in fourth grade a lot of my students feel embarrassed if they follow along with their fingers as they read. This bookmark is a discreet and “cool” way for them to follow along and keep track of the words on the page. The last thing I want is for my students to feel embarrassed!
Mochi Squishy Toys
If you use desk pets or another reward system in your classroom, these little mochi toys are the perfect addition! This pack comes with 72 pieces that are so darn cute! Mochis are very popular right now for students in elementary school. They are little squishy animals and objects. These are so cute and the perfect addition to a birthday or prize box in your classroom.
Liquid Motion Bubblier & Pin Art Metal Silver Toy
I use these two tools in my calm corner. Pin Art toys help stimulate parts of the brain and provide sensory relief to students, especially students on the spectrum. When students are in an elevated state, they can go to the calm corner to have a safe space to process and regain self control. I have used both of these tools with much success, especially for my students with special needs.
Giant Classroom Timer
I love using this classroom timer for time management in my classroom. The timer is magnetic, so you can stick it right on your whiteboard and move it around as you see fit. You can have the timer count up or down and it is large enough to see from anywhere in the classroom. This particular timer is a little pricy, but it is worth it! Plus, Lakeshore Learning has many deals and coupons, so you wouldn’t need to pay full price.
In my personal life, I never buy plastic water bottles because of the environmental impact, however, the one exception I make is for my classroom. Every year, I buy two of these 24 packs and they last for the whole year. They are only $3.59 at Target and can SAVE THE DAY. When students complain of headaches, you can prevent them from going down to the nurse by simply giving them a water bottle. Also, if students forget their own water bottles, instead of having them waste time going to the drinking fountain or sit and suffer from being so thirsty, you can simply provide them with a water bottle. In my classroom, I make sure that students don’t rely on me for water bottles, but when emergencies happen, these really come in handy!
I always say, “never underestimate the power of a juice box!” When my students complain about minor headaches, stomach aches, or random ailments, I give them a juice box. I assume it is the placebo effect in combination with getting more hydrated, but it works almost every time. When I give students juice boxes, I do it very discreetly and let them know that it is a privilege. I have never had other students get jealous or take advantage of the system. In fact, I have had students say that they really appreciate this small gesture because they feel like I care about them and hear what they are saying. Never underestimate the power of a juice box! :)
Mavalus Stick Anywhere Washi Tape
This tape is the best washi tape I have ever used! It sticks, but is not excessively sticky or hard to remove. This picture only shows primary colors, but there are a bunch of different colors to choose from at Lakeshore Learning. I create borders and sections on my whiteboard with this tape. It is not only effective, but also cute!
Mr. Sketch Chisel Tip Markers
These markers are amazing for chart paper. I love the chisel tip because I am able to make my letters thick, which allows students to read my posters no matter where they are in the room. They also have so many color options, which I love!
Sharpie Bullet Tip Markers
I also love these markers for chart paper! They compliment the Mr. Sketch markers very well and the ink is very vibrant. It is nice to have markers that have bullet tips when I need to write more information on my anchor charts. They are on sale at Walmart right now! :)
Headphones for Students
I love having extra headphones on hand for students who lose or break their own pair or cannot afford their own. These headphones are a great price for the quality! These earbuds fit in all of my student’s ears and they are durable.
Paper trays can be surprisingly (and ridiculously!) expensive. These are reasonable and just as effective as expensive paper trays. I love buying different colors, so I can color coordinate my math centers and rotations. For only $3, these are a great deal!
If you are looking for a low, simple bookshelf, I have the product for you! These shelves are technically TV stands, but I use them as bookshelves in my classroom. They look great and can hold a considerable amount of books! My only complaint is that some of my taller books do not fit on the shelves. Also, the shelves are very deep, so I had to put objects in the back of the shelves to prevent the books from being shoved all the way to the back. I love these shelves despite these cons, but you can make the choice for yourself!
These pencil pouches are durable, not bulky, and have a clear front so students can easily see what is inside. They also have 3-ring binder holes, which is convenient if you use binders in your classroom. I don’t use binders in my classroom and I still love these pencil pouches! Next to the 3-ring holes, I write each student’s name in Sharpie and it stays for the entire year, no problem!
Thin Expo Whiteboard Markers
I have found that thin Expo markers are perfect for individual student whiteboards. Students don’t run out of space on their whiteboards and their handwriting is neater and easier to read. One year, I bought thin Expo markers in many different rainbow colors. I instantly regretted it as my students fought over the colors and then created gangs based on the colors everyone chose…. You seriously cannot make this stuff up! And these were FIFTH graders! I can only imagine how many problems colored markers would cause in younger grades. Simply put: just buy black. End of story.
Thick Expo Markers
I love thick Expo markers for my own use at the whiteboard. This year, I am splurging and I am going to get a 16-pack of colored markers for myself too. I have found the best deals on Amazon!
Crayons, Markers, & Colored Pencils
Always buy Crayola. Enough said. Also, Target has amazing deals this time of year and is giving 15% off school supplies through September 10!
Pencils–MUST be Ticonderoga!
I personally buy sharpened AND unsharpened pencils. I use my unsharpened pencils for students who need to do a restorative assignment and “give back” to the classroom after unexpected or disruptive behaviors. Not only is this a simple, effective restorative assignment, but the pencils are also cheaper! I have learned that It is always best to go with Ticonderoga. One year, I went with cheap pencils from “Amazon Basics” and all of the erasers popped off after one use! Ticonderogas are worth every penny! I am never going back!
These are the BEST folders ever! They are incredibly durable and last the whole school year. I use them for Take Home Folders because they are very resilient and have a clear pocket in the front where I put a sheet that says “______’s Take Home Folder” in each student’s folder. They decorate the sheet on the first day of school and it stays nice for the entire school year.
These composition notebooks are reasonably priced, but also high quality. I have noticed that other composition notebooks are flimsy with super thin pages and overall low-quality. These cost only 25 cents more and are SO much better! Plus, they come in different colors.
I have found that these scissors are the right size and length for 4th graders. For the past two years, the scissors I have ordered have not been big enough. This year, I am going to get it right with these 7 inch scissors.
If you end up purchasing any of these products, let me know what you think by sending me a message over on Instagram @always.upper.elementary or tagging me in your pictures! I would love to see what supplies you end up buying for your classroom! :)
Also, make sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers at this link! You will be the first to know about my sales, freebies, and newest products.