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July 9, 2021

Let's Talk School Supplies

Since it’s been years since I’ve talked school supplies, figure I’d share what I currently use in my classroom. 

At my school pretty much all the elementary grades ask for donation money at the beginning of the year. We want all the kids to have access to the same kind of things, and we don't want them comparing their supplies to their neighbors.  We ask for $20-25 per kid, and that covers all the things we give each kid to use all year. We send home a note with report cards at the end of the previous year to give parents a heads up, and it’s also on our school website. We want to make it easy for parents to NOT have to deal with school shopping, and since we can get big discounts buying in bulk from the warehouse, well… that’s what we do. Usually most parents are able to donate, and then we can use school funds to cover the others. We do not have a supply closet and we aren't given supplies for kids to use.  We've only heard positive feedback from parents. :)  

Personal vs Community supplies:
There is a time and place for each kind. I don’t know what this next year will bring. Supposedly it’ll be back to normal. This last year when the kids came back to hybrid; they weren’t allowed to share anything. I had to sanitize things that the groups had to share. It really wasn’t a big deal. 

*Personal Pencil Pouch: I use pencil pouches vs pencil boxes. The sound of plastic boxes being knocked off desks gets old fast, and when things go flying out of the broken containers... I can’t stand the noise. So pencil pouches are better for my sanity. 

*Pencils - I give them 3 sharpened pencils to start the year. They have to make sure they are sharp for the next day. But with having multiple ones they don’t have to sharpen as often. I don’t give out replacement pencils that often. If they need to bring more from home, they will. If kids really want to use mechanical pencils they bring those themselves.  I do have some extra ready to go if needed. I used to do a Pencil Challenge to see how long they can keep them, and that just morphed into the expectation.

*Highlighters - we use highlighters of different colors every day. We color code in the different subjects, we rainbow edit, etc. We use multiple colors each day. I get the multi color packs and give them each a set.  Most of the highlighters also glow in the dark for activities on glow day.

*Whiteboard markers - I give them only 1 to start. It’s possible for it to last all trimester, sometimes even longer. I only buy 3 for each kid for all year. One per trimester. If they run out early, they need to use paper and pencil. Not a big deal. Last year with distance they didn't use whiteboards at all - unless they had them at home. I only asked them to use copy paper so they could send me their work to view.  I guess my dependence of them changed last year. We'll see what this next year will hold.  

*Glue sticks - I give them only one for each trimester. I do have extras if needed. We don’t use them that often. I used to do a lot of interactive notebooks, but when copy budgets changed, I switched to the kids just copying my version of the interactive notebooks into their composition books.

****On the first day I only have a pencil on their desk to use.  Then later on the first week, I have all the stuffed pencil pouches on a side table and call the kids over to go grab one. I have out sharpies and the kids take a few moments to label everything in their pencil pouch with their initials. The pouch, every pencil, the marker, the glue, every highlighter. Then when things roll on the ground, I know exactly who it belongs to. I have a lost and found bin that is by the door.  If something falls on the ground, it goes in there to be claimed.  Usually I can figure out names by initials.

Desk supplies:
*Whiteboard clip board - these are low profile; so they work to fit in their desks, but then also are handy for moving around the classroom and going outside. Since I keep them from year to year, I don’t write names on them. If kids leave them around the room, I just set them on the side counter and the kids figure it out pretty fast. If they are misusing them, I take it for a while and they just use copy paper.  

*Poly pocket folders - I buy 2 per kid. One is used for class work and the other for homework. Each have 3 sheet protectors inside and we add to them the first week of school when we are setting them up for the year. This year I bought red ones for homework, and blue ones for class work. Our school colors are Red, White, and Blue... American Eagles! :) 

*Composition books for the subjects - I used to have 4 per kid (Math, ELA, SS, and Science). Last year with distance learning we didn’t use them, everything was online. I’m still trying to figure out this coming year. Part of me loved having everything available online, and part of me never wants to use TEAMS again.  If I use them we definitely need one for ELA (Reading, Writing, and Grammar), another for Science, and one for Math… but I'm going back and forth about SS. I think it’s because we now have a curriculum while we didn’t used to… We used to write notes based on the articles we were reading, but now everything is in the workbook and room to write, but there is the importance to learn how to take notes before middle school. Okay, will probably still use 4 this coming year...
I picked up a ton of them 2 years ago when Target put them on sale after the back to school rush, and I still have them left. They were knocked down to 5 cents each. I cleaned out my Target and found enough for my entire grade level. 

****When we set up our notebooks at the beginning of the year I have the kids use their highlighters to color the bottom edge of the notebook paper. They hold the notebook tightly closed. Then they can view the colors while looking in their desks and grab the correct one without pulling them all out. We take time with my sharpies to label each composition book, folder, and all their workbooks with their names as well. 

Community supplies:
These are kept in drawers that kids have access to. I believe that they will continue to have access, but if needed I can spray them before they go back at the end of the day.

*Crayons - stored in plastic soap containers (Dollar Store). This year I did pick up a full class set of crayons, usually I get half a class set.  I personally am not a big fan of crayons - it's a texture thing for me, but since they are cheap and in case kids can't share supplies this year... Usually I put out half of the sets in August, and save the other half for January.  If kids can't share supplies, they will all be passed out.  

*Markers - We really only use markers for group projects.  I duct tape the caps to keep them held together. It works really well, as it's an easy way to check that all the caps are tightly replaced.  Usually I only get about 16 sets of markers when they go on sale over the summer. I save half of my collection to put fresh ones out in January. 

*Rulers - I keep them in my drawer, they aren't used that often, and that way they don't become swords or light sabers.  

*Scissors - I have a mixture of kid and (mostly) adult size for my big kids.

*Binder paper - we may not need it as often now with everyone having their own device. Between anchor charts, notes in notebooks, and turning in final drafts via computer, might work out pretty nicely! 

*Copy paper - I keep a stash in the drawer.  This is where they go and grab a piece if they have misplaced their whiteboard, or their whiteboard marker seems to have lost it's juice.  

I also have a stash of other supplies behind my white board that the kids do not have access to unless I pull them out - like Sharpies or index cards, or post it notes, or construction paper, or wet glue, or paint, or pastels, etc.  

School supplies make me happy. Hope this helps someone.  :)  

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