When you are beginning your career as a teacher, there are so many things to think about when setting up your classroom.  As a veteran teacher with 20+ years of teaching under my belt, I have a few recommendations for new teachers.

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Don’t always buy the supplies that are cheapest.  They don’t always work as well.  I recommend Crayola for all of your coloring needs. No, I am not in any way, shape, or form affiliated with Crayola.  I just like their products!  You might spend a little bit more money on Crayola products, but the crayons are not waxy like cheaper brands, and they don’t break as easily.  When sharpening Crayola colored pencils, you should be able to sharpen the pencils to a good point every (or almost every) time.  Cheaper brands sometimes sharpen on a weird angle or have broken lead inside of them, so as soon as you try to color with a newly sharpened pencil, the lead breaks off.  I always shop the sales during the summer.  This summer I stocked up on boxes of 24 Crayola crayons for fifty cents each!  You can’t beat that!

I really like Elmer’s glue.  I use the white glue for classroom projects and making gak.  Their glitter glue is great for making glittery gak!  I also like their glue sticks.  The purple ones are a great visual for those kids that go a little “glue crazy”.  They can see how much they are using, then it disappears over time.  Some cheaper glue sticks are completely empty after one project, while Elmer’s seem to last longer.  Other glue sticks are sticky for a few days, but not in the long run.  I found that out when I was putting together my end of the year memory books a few years ago.  Photos that had been glued onto memory book pages a month beforehand were no longer attached.  😦

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This year I am going to try out these lead pencils with my students.  The lead size is 1.3 mm.  Smaller sized lead has always broken in the past.  Hopefully, this size will work!  I am looking forward to NOT having to sharpen writing pencils this year!  I’ll keep you posted…     I organize my pencils according to color groups that match my tables (and my rainbow carpet).  Each basket has pencils, a large eraser, and a highlighter & pen (for the teacher/adult at the table).  I find that by having color coded sets, each table always has enough supplies.  Long ago before I used this organizational system, I found that all of the supplies migrated to one table.  Once I started color coding my supplies, the students always returned the supplies to the correct table’s basket.  I also include Twist ‘n Write pencils and other supportive devices for students that need extra help maintaining a proper grip when writing.

 

 

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Each table has a set of scissors and glue.
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I include different types of scissors to help students who cannot cut efficiently or correctly.

All the color coded supplies for each table fit into the top drawer of my Sterilite drawers.  There is one (or more) set at each table, and students are taught to independently get their supplies from the top drawer when they need something.  In the set that is at my table, I add a timer, spacemen (finger spacers for writing), a stamp to let parents know if the work was independent or with help, and a laser pointer so that I can point to a letter, word, picture card, (etc.) without getting up and leaving my group during workshop time.

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I always buy a fresh set of chalk at the beginning of the year.  I use chalkboards for shared writing and letter formation instruction with my students.  I have found that Crayola brand works the best.  Other brands don’t seem to write well on the chalkboards.  I paid about $1.00 per box at Walmart this summer.
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This is how I organize my chalk baskets at the beginning of the year.  Each colored basket corresponds to a color on my rainbow carpet (red, orange, blue, and green).  When it’s time to pass out supplies to 24 students for shared writing, all I have to do is give the matching basket to the first person in the row.  They will take a piece of chalk and an eraser (a sock that they will wear like a mitten on their non-dominant hand) out of the basket and pass it on to the next student.  The last student in the row places the basket on their right.  When it’s time to clean up, the person who was last to get their supplies is now first to put their supplies away.   They place their supplies in the basket, then pass it on to the next student.  The last student puts the basket away.  We also pass out chalkboards this way.  Passing out supplies takes about 2 minutes.  It takes some training to get them do learn to do it, but once they can do it, they’ll try to race the other rows so that they can be in first place!

 

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All chalkboards and baskets of chalks and erasers (socks) are neatly stored in one tub.

 

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These are my chalkboards.  I use whiteboards and chalkboards in my classroom, but I prefer to use chalkboards when writing with students for many reasons.  I have a beautiful (and expensive) rainbow carpet from Lakeshore Learning.  When the students use whiteboards on the carpet, I am constantly reminding them to keep the whiteboards on their laps (i.e. not on the carpet).  Even when they do keep the whiteboards on their laps, I still find marker on my carpet.  With chalk, I don’t have to worry!  Even if the kids draw on the carpet with the chalk, it comes out easily.  In addition to this, for the kids who have never really written before or for children with poor fine motor skills, whiteboards can be too slippery.  Chalkboards provide more resistance when they write.  I can also write a model on a student’s board for them to trace if they are having trouble with a word/letter.  I can also give small pieces of chalk to students that are working on the tripod grip.  Smaller pieces forces them to hold the chalk correctly.
You will notice that  I drew “the writing road” on each chalkboard, and I placed a star sticker on the left side so that they know where to begin writing.  Not all students will be able to use the writing road right away, but it’s there if they want to use it, and it’s there for when we practice correct letter formation.  As you can see, it’s time for me to retrace the road that I made many years ago!

 

I also have whiteboard paddles and lap whiteboards that are used during whole-class instruction.  Once again, they are organized in baskets so that they can be passed out quickly.  Each student has their own marker that they need to take care of in class.  If their marker dries out because they didn’t “click the lid”, they have to throw their colored marker away and use one of the extra markers in their basket.  I also have mini-whiteboards and mini-chalkboards that I use during workshop (small-group instruction).

Don’t forget to get basic office supplies, paper, markers, colored pencils and anything else you will need!  As you can see in the first photo, I also buy highlighter tape and “boo boo tape” (correction/cover up tape) to use during shared writing and letter introduction.

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