If you follow me on Instagram (@create_inspire_teach), you know that I’m trying to adhere to a Summer of Less, meaning less meaningless (see what I did there?) stuff that winds up crowding my closet for years only to be given away or thrown out later (read: Too much Target Dollar Spot raiding). I think I’ve done a good job at sticking to buying only the necessities, so I want to share some of the meaningful items I buy for my classroom that you might be overlooking or not even know you need!
Necessity #1: A trusted laminator. Because how many times have you gone into the workroom to laminate something and it was OOO (out of order)? I didn’t invest in a personal laminator until year 5 of teaching, and now I wonder how I ever lived without it. I like the AmazonBasics Laminator, mine has been going strong for 2 years now. It heats up quickly and is easy to use. Amazon also has their own line of laminator sheets, which I’ve found to be the best deal. I keep my laminator in my classroom for the times when I need to laminate in a crunch (you know, when TpT is having a sale and you find yourself with too many task cards to count.) Which leads me to my second classroom necessity…
Necessity #2: A handy dandy paper cutter.
If you don’t know, now you know. Having this small paper cutter (large enough to cut one 8.5 x 11″ paper held horizontally) has been a life saver for prepping interactive notebook pieces, cutting all those aforementioned task cards, and anything else that needs a straight cut. Again, this is one of those Why didn’t I buy that earlier? kind of things that you never knew you couldn’t live without. You know the old adage: Laminate, cut, repeat. This year, do it more efficiently.
Necessity #3: A lightweight vacuum.
No, seriously, it’s necessary. I’ve had the same $20 vacuum for years and I love it. It’s light enough for the kids to carry and it gets into all the small spaces of my classroom. It’s so kid-friendly that we even have a classroom job dedicated to it: Vacuumers (very creative, I know). Two students take turns vacuuming the rugs in our classroom at the end of each day. Why? Because “it’s fun” (their words). Yes, we have wonderful custodians at our school. No, this is not some form of child labor. Its quick, easy, and helps teach responsibility. You also don’t realize you need a vacuum until it’s too late. Like when one of your little friends inevitably spills his Goldfish on your brand new rug and another friend grinds them up with her shoe (totally happened). So, get yourself a lightweight, easy to use vacuum.
Necessity #4: Dry Erase Boards.
This is probably an obvious one, but there is not one single item we use more often in the classroom than our dry erase boards. I guess one could argue that we use a pencil just as frequently, but I really think our dry erase board usage might take the lead. While I’m sure some schools are able to provide dry erase boards for each student, I’ve had to purchase them myself. So, I want boards that are going to last. These are the boards I’ve chosen to go with this year. What do we use our dry erase boards for? They’re kept at the end of each table for easy access because we use them for everything: mini lessons, word work, brainstorming, scratch paper, indoor recess, quick checks, assessments, you name it, we’ve use a dry erase board for that. Want to get crafty? Use vinyl to write names or numbers on the boards to personalize it. Want to have fun? Make it a class challenge to see who can keep their board in the best condition through the last day of school!
Necessity #5: Kid Socks.
Yes, you heard me. They’re essential to my classroom and they could make a difference in yours. I love using kids’ socks in the classroom for these reasons: they’re erasers for dry erase boards, they’re a safe home for an Expo marker that will stop the marker from rolling out of a desk/off of a table, they’re washable–take them home when they look like they need a good scrub and throw them in your washing machine, they’re cheap! Socks come in pairs, which makes assigning socks to students an easy way to partner them up. Need to switch partners? Swap out socks. It’s as easy as that. I find myself saying “Grab your sock marker and meet me on the carpet” many times each day, it’s become the new norm. Next time you see socks for kids, remember their importance in the classroom!
Check out my Amazon page (amazon.com/shop/createinspireteach) to see more of my favorite classroom items in the “Back to School” category! And don’t forget to click the FOLLOW button to see more ideas for organization, classroom transformations, and that popular Testing Box!