Ready, Set, SHOP: Back To School List Del Mundo

Well, friends.  Here it is.  My Back To School list.  Keep in mind that I made a few assumptions (silly me!) such as you will not have to buy your own math manipulatives (and if you do and teach small children, totally get coin and clock stamps and ink…worth every penny!), and writing paper will be provided for you.  Sorry if you have to shell out for all that too.  And people have the balls to call us lazy and greedy.  
Crap You Desperately Need To Have Around Your Room:
* That blue sticky stuff you can use to hang posters on the wall I am addicted to this stuff.  Hello, lover.  Hang anything anywhere on my walls?  Why, thank you, don’t mind if I do.
* Magnetic tape Stick something up to cover your ugly radiators.  Use it to hang things on your whiteboard (I made a set of base tens with magnets that were killer!) Have it on hand for a last minute picture frame for Fathers’ Day…
*Velcro tape  See above.  It’s also super convenient to have on hand.
* Push pins Also known as the Thumb Tack.  
* Envelopes Letter sized and the big yellow size too.  Wonderful for sending home all that beginning of the year crap, a note to parents, permission slips, you name it!
* A homework bin To collect folders, notebooks, assignments.
* An “in box” For friends to hand in notes, permission slips, etc.
* An “out box” For you to dump all the hand outs that go home, new homework packets, whatever needs to get passed out at the end of the day to go home.  Also, when you get rudely interrupted by someone from the office who has a mammoth stack of copies that MUST GO HOME IMMEDIATELY OR THE WORLD WILL END, you can discreetly/passive aggressively/angrily point to the bin and thank them for not interrupting your instruction.
* Manilla folders.  These things are the bomb.   
* Binder clips
* Sharpies Ha!  You thought I was going to forget SHARPIES?!  Shame on you…
* Ziplock bags Sandwich size, gallon size and snack size.  Another great item to ask parents to donate to the room. Perfect for flash cards, Just Right book baggies, centers…
* Paper towels
* Kleenex
* Sponges
* Cleaning solution
* Cleaning wipes Pass these out after an art project and viola!  Clean desks.  Let your friends do the work.
Shaving cream will take almost anything off a desk or table.  Have them squirt on their desks and practice writing sight words. I’m all about two birds with one stone, people.
* Band aids Get the boring ones.  That saves you friends who want a Band Aid just because they’re obsessed with Dora and will therefore find any teensy tiny little scratch and beg for said Band Aid.  
* Stickers Lots and lots of stickers.  Smelly ones, shiny ones, thematic ones, tiny ones.  STICKERS.
* Labels In a variety of sizes.  I used these for everything!
* Index cards Perhaps the most useful things in the world.  Lined, colored, unlined.  I used them for everything from flash cards to name tags.
* Packing tape  Can’t say enough about the packing tape.
* Staples 
* Stapler I had at least three good ones in different spots around the room.  For Mrs. Mimi only!
* Decent sharp scissors
* Three hole punch
* One hole punch
* Something to use as name tags on field trips Stickers, name tags, things around their neck.  Decide and buy them.
* Sentence strips
* Chart paper Large and small sizes
* White out
* Class set of rulers
* Hanging file folders Start filing (NOT PILING!) from day one to avoid chaos central.
* Pocket charts A couple of big ones for a word wall, medium sized for content specific word walls (e.g. math, science, socials studies word walls..yes they should be seperate!!), a 100s chart pocket chart and maybe one for your daily schedule.
* Alphabet
* Number line
Post Its Saved the best for last.  All sizes, all shapes, all colors!                 
Decoration Station
I heart the decorating portion of the program.  You know, where you get to set everything up and it’s all clean and color coordinated?  *nerdy sigh*
* A set of letters for tracing  I never used these for my bulletin boards, rather I traced my own letters from a set I had for millions of years.  A little more work, yes.  But cheaper.
* Borders I go color coordinated and generic so they fit all subjects for the entire year and don’t have to be changed until they start to look like dump.
* Fadeless paper for bulletin boards.  Although I have heard of people painting their boards (ask first!), and/or hanging up fabric or a table cloth as a background.  
* Pre cut shapes  These can be pricey so don’t get carried away.  I used to just grab a few hands to make my Helping Hands job chart and maybe a package of stars. You know, cuz we were rock stars?                
Supplies For Your Friends To Have At Their Seats:

For a moment, let’s swallow those feelings of rage that can bubble up from time to time when we really think about why OUR money is going to buy THEIR school supplies, shall we? I’ll wait if you need a moment to chase all that rage with a sip of your cocktail.

(Pssstt…I didn’t hook you up with links because I figured teachers = best bargain hunters around and therefore, you will know where to go for the hottest deals in your area, no?)

* Pencils As many as you can get. Good old fashioned #2 pencils. Beware- don’t fall for the cheapy pencils with the crappy erasers!!
* Cap erasers I always like to start the year with these…I’d buy enough to give nor to everyone in September and then have some extras to randomly dole out.
* Dry erase markers. Two per child. I’d hand out one in September, one in February. The rest? $1 to purchase or bring your own. Mrs. Mimi does not equal your fairy school supply godmother.
* Pencil boxes I used to buy one for every child in my class.  I know.  I KNOW!  You can totally hunt down a rad deal on these though and it’s worth it.  No arguing over who has the cooler pencil case, no pencils jammed in the back of the desk (Thank you, Clean Desk Fairy!), no nothing.  I also am a crazy woman and didn’t allow outside school supplies.  Either your family donates them to the ENTIRE CLASS to use or you keep them at home.  We don’t have time for getting worked into a snit because so-and-so has a super shiny pencil and you don’t.
 * Four or five class sets of Two-pocket folders.   I used these babies for everything.  My friends got one for homework, one for writer’s workshop, one for science, one for social studies and I always like to have a few spares lying around.
* Scissors. If your school didn’t buy you a class set, they should be ashamed of themselves.  But chances are you’ll have to pony up for these yourself, especially if you’re new.  Hey, welcome to teaching.
* Crayons. I’m one of those teachers that bought a pack for every child.  Because when I was a Mini, I hated sharing crayons with the d-bag who chewed off all the paper and then broke them.  I took pride in my crayons…
* Small personal 100s charts.  Obvi, this one is geared more for the small fries, but having one for everyone at their seats?  Amaze-balls.  I bought plastic ones that lasted fo-eva, but you could always print some out and laminate.  Totally worth it.
* Composition notebooks.  I used to request that parents send these in.  GASP!  I know. I actually asked them to donate to the cause.  And you know what?  Uber generous.  It never hurts to throw a few of these on a list and ask.  My rule?  No names on supplies.  They were donated to the entire class.  I labeled them as necessary.  Can you say, “control freak”?

Supplies to have around the room for your friends:
* Glue For me, glue at their seats = disaster.  I had several bottles at the front for sharing.  My rule of thumb, one bottle per every two kids.  Sharing is caring!
* Glue sticks I happen to be of the opinion that glue sticks blow.  But they do come in handy for certain activities.  
* Pink erasers A lot of pink erasers. I used to leave these in a labeled basket at the front of the room. I’d put our room number on each one. At the bottom of the basket, I’d put a label that read, “There are ten erasers in this basket.”. They knew it. I knew it. Thieves beware.  Why not give each child their own eraser?  Because I wanted them to spend their time WRITING and not RUBBING A HOLE IN THEIR PAPER.
* Markers  I always kept several sets (one for every partnership) on a labeled shelf at the front of the room.  And, because I am a control freak who prefers children’s art done in colored pencil, getting to use the markers was similar to winning the lottery.
* Colored Pencils I had a HUGE class set of these babies.  LOVED THEM.  I would buy extra pencil boxes and fill them with colored pencils for tables to share. 

If You Have Money Burning A Hole In Your Pocket:
* A class set of clipboards
* A small laminating machine
* A class set of small individual white boards
* A Label Maker * drool *      

Supplies For Your Writing Center and Writing Bribery:
*  Plastic Caddies  Really Good Stuff has an amazingly drool-inspiring collection of bins, including plastic caddies.  I bought one per table to store special writing supplies.  I doled out these special writing supplies to tables that were rocking it…a lovely prize AND related to their work.
* Mini staplers I bought one for every table to be added to their caddies eventually.
* Tape I bought a lot of tape…so I could have one roll per table, a fancy dispenser with tape at the front of the classroom, and my own rolls around the room.  
* Mechanical Pencils  I dished these out as prizes for good work to be used during Writers Workshop and to be stored in the Writing Caddy.
* Smelly Erasers I gave these out as prizes to be added to the caddies as well.  They were fancy and smelly and all the rage.
* Paper clips I gave some out for the caddies but had ho-jillions for myself around the room.  Note: Always store your paper clips in some sort of bin or cup, otherwise they end of EVERYWHERE!       

Fabulousness For Your Prize Jar:
We can’t forget the prize jar, or bin, or treasure box or whatever you call it.  I was a fan of useful prizes, not toys.  Because eventually the toys will annoy me or come out to play during math and then I’ll have to take them away which makes me feel like a total b*tch, so to avoid that particular shame spiral, I give out useful, yet fabulous, school supplies.  Perhaps I’m just cultivating a whole new generation of office supply nerd….

Anyhow, I’d hit up the dollar aisle at Target, Oriental Trading online and Really Good Stuff to snatch up things like fancy pencils, smelly erasers, shiny notepads, cute puzzles, and cool rulers. 

Things For A Fairly Rad Art Center:
Maybe your school buys you all this stuff, maybe they don’t.  But hopefully, this list will help you fill in the gaps.

* Water Color Sets  I love watercoloring.  Love Love Love It.  I tried to have at least one set of watercolors for every partnership and a few spares in storage.
* Oil Pastels  (a.k.a. Cray Pas) So many fun possibilities for layering color, scratch art and watercolor resists.  I heart arts ‘n farts. 
* Construction Paper Large and small.  No brainer, right?
* White drawing paper Large and small sizes.  Again, duh.
* Water color paper  If you’re feeling in the money.
* Brushes  Large and small.  One for every friend.
* Tepra paints
* Meat trays – I know, gross right?  But they make fabulous palettes for paints!
* Pipe cleaners
* Popsicle sticks
* Yarn
* Beads
* Card stock
* Clay or play dough  You can make your own….recipes are super easy to find on line.

Some Things To Think About:

* What are your storage needs?  Plan before you buy when it comes to bins and other storage containers.  Look around your room, make a list (whee!) and then hit up the dollar store, Target or Really Good Stuff online.  
* What are you going to do for birthdays?  Cards, crowns, special pencils?  I used to have a basket of birthday read alouds and the child in question got to pick their fave for our read aloud that day.  Whatever you decide to do, think about it NOW and buy what you need.  Don’t say you’ll do it when a birthday comes up, cuz (newsflash!) you won’t have time.
* What are you going to do for a loose tooth?  My answer was close my eyes, write a pass to the nurse and point at the door.  But some of you may be more giving and want to have something ready for your toothless wonders.  Again, decide now and buy it…you won’t have time for this crap as the school year really gets under way.
* What are some things to have in the room that make you smile?  Remember, it’s your room too!  Do you want to have a special coffee cup, lotion, chap stick….whatever you think will make your day easier and more pleasant.  OH – and don’t forget to stock up on Tylenol and special “monthly” supplies to squirrel away in your closet!!  (Sorry boys.)

And for the love of GOD, don’t forget to buy a planner!

Did I forget anything??  Feel free to add whatever in the comments section.  Mrs. Mimi could always use a little help!



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  • Also, did you put a timer, and I just missed it?

    August 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm
  • Great list!!! Your "If You Have Money Burning A Hole In Your Pocket" category is to die for!! Ha! 🙂

    August 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm
  • Fab list!

    Don't forget the Costco-sized antibacterial hand gel! My Kinder teacher at one of my schools even has a song in Spanish about killing germs when she disseminates it. I wish I could remember it.

    August 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm
  • I don't think I saw a timer either! I heart my timer big time!

    August 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm
  • As a new teacher, this list is just, well, FABULOUS!!! Thank you sooooo much – your blog rules!! <3

    August 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm
  • Awesome list! You definitely jogged my memory with a few items.

    We have classroom bathrooms with a high shelf, so lots of us female teachers have been keeping "monthly supplies" in a gift bag on the shelf where no kids can reach!

    Also, I stock up on a class set of the crayons, glue sticks, erasers (cap and pink) and pencils. I give these out as my students' Christmas gifts instead of a trinket or bookmark. Then their pencil box gets replenished, and I get to buy them in August when they're much cheaper!

    August 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm
  • Two things I don't plan to live without this year are:
    1. AquaNet hairspray- It will remove permanent marker from whiteboards, desktops, and pretty much any laminate surface. The faster it's applied to the "MISTAKE" the better it works.
    2. Gold Bond brand hand sanitizer- Brande new- I just saw it and tried it on my last pass through WallyWorld, It is wonderful! Treat yourself and get some! Avoid "sandpaperhands" this year! It's a little pricier than the usual gel hand sanitizer but definitely worth it. MY plan is to use the usual stuff with kids and keep the GB for myself! A little selfish? Perhaps! But…we're worth it! Have a fabulous school year!

    August 11, 2010 at 1:17 am
  • Ha! I'm sitting here in my classroom right now mentally checking off the items you shared! Thanks for sharing! I definitely laugh out loud almost every time I read your blog! Thanks for making being a teacher fun!

    August 11, 2010 at 1:17 am
  • Two things I try not to live (st school, anyhow!) without:
    1. AquaNet hairspray-will take permanent marker off whiteboards, desks, and other laminate surfaces if applied as soon as possible after your MISTAKE is realized!
    2. NEW THIS YEAR! Gold Bond has just come out with a hand snitizer that is like their lotion! It cleans your hands without removing the first three layers of skin by the end of the day. My plan is (here is where you will probably start to think I have no soul!)to buy a huge container of regular old hand sanitizer for the kids and reserve the "good stuff"(Gold Bond) for myself! Either way, it is great and a nice perk for yourself!
    Have a fabulous 2010-2011 school year! 🙂


    August 11, 2010 at 1:17 am
  • OMG Thank you!!!!! Last year I taught part time and had to share a room with 4 other teachers. This year I am full time, and have my own room, and I have been wracking my brain for what I need for the room. I have big (14-20yr old) friends, but a lot of this is still perfect for them! Thank you again!

    August 11, 2010 at 1:17 am
  • All I can say is "WOW!" Great ideas! I am going to add the birthday story to my bag of tricks.

    For birthdays I do a "birthday bag." The first day of school students write their names, birthdays and decorate a white lunch sack. I fill the sacks with a birthday pencil, homework pass, and bookmark (I usually add candy too, but the sugar high at 4th grade is tolerable). Domino's pizza gives us birthday coupons so I add those too. The birthday bags go in a cupboard IN ORDER and voila you're ready to go.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:17 am
  • OMG, after reading your list, all I can say is "Thank God I teach High School." But as one school supply lover to another, this post was a great read and gave me an uncontrollable urge to go to the office supply store.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:37 am
  • What a great, comprehensive list! Wouldn't it be nice if all the necessary school supplies just magically appeared in our classrooms at the beginning of every year? *Sigh*

    I love reading your blog! You provide such great tips and insights which are especially helpful to young teachers!


    August 11, 2010 at 2:25 am
  • I'll second the inclusion of a timer…

    Also, my cousin (retired art teacher) invented a paint that was based on Shaving Cream. Essentially what she did was to mix powdered tempera paint with a big blob of shaving cream and let the kids "finger paint" with it. I used it a lot when I taught Reading Recovery for tactile letter practice and vocab building.

    August 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm
  • The timer!!! Good save friends! Heart the timer.

    August 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm
  • DUCK TAPE!The color selection is amazing now. The black roll makes my antique desk look new.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:49 pm
  • If you have walls like mine, the blue tacky dough is a hit/miss on posters. I read on the englishcompanion.ning about using a hot glue gun… I'm so trying it as soon as the floors are done in my room!

    August 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm
  • FABULOUS list! Regarding covering bulletin boards, have you tried wrapping paper? It is much easier to manipulate than those massive rolls of plain colored paper, doesn't fade like those massive rolls of plain colored paper, and comes in all sorts of fun designs and colors!

    August 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm
  • Wow, you truly are a "school supplies nerd!" Although I love the smell of school supplies in September, I do not go into a frenzied spasmodic condition over the glory that is blue tacky adhesive. Having said this, I LOVE your blog and your list is perfect! Keep up the fabulousness that you are and give us fellow teachers the laughs we need!

    August 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm
  • socks! The cheapest dry erase marker eraser there is AND it doubles as a little storage for the marker!

    August 19, 2011 at 5:27 am

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