In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

First Days of School – Student Supplies

on August 5, 2012

I think every year about my school supply list. I try to be considerate of kids and their ability to tote things back and forth to school. I am very conscious of parents and the financial burden of back to school time, especially with multiple children. I also want to be sure that the things I’m asking for are true necessities. Here’s what I’ve come up with…

– 2 sturdy pocket folders (yes, I’ll use more than that, but I got 100 of them for a dollar, so I can color code those like I want. These 2 are for homework folders.)

– 5 one-subject notebooks (I believe in teaching students to be good note-takers)

– lots of wooden pencils (I don’t allow mechanical pencils in my classroom – too much fuss)

– 3 highlighters

– 2 dry erase markers

– 2 packs of loose leaf paper (I don’t use a lot of looseleaf. If I’m giving a short quiz, we use a half or a quarter of a sheet. Who needs all that paper if it’s not necessary?)

– a basic white t-shirt that is at least one size too big (I’ll explain this more later)

The following things are helpful if parents can send them in, but they are not required.

– glue sticks

– crayons or colored pencils

– a few clean socks to use as dry erase markers

– boxes of facial tissues

– zip lock bags of any size

– disinfecting wipes

– hand sanitizer

On the first day of school, we spend a bit of time sorting the supplies into the storage totes that I have for each item. I explain to my students that we will be operating as a family throughout the year, and we start by sharing. I have a tote at each table that I keep stocked with sharpened pencils, highlighters, crayons, glue, scissors, etc. We replenish the totes from the stock of beginning of the year supplies throughout the year. Those items don’t belong to any one person and are shared. As we start to run low on a particular item, I send a quick note home and often receive plenty from parents who are able. I have found that this is the best way to keep the supplies that I need for my room, manage the items, not single out students whose parents are unable to send in items, and have students take ownership in managing their items. At first I anticipated having students who might be upset about the idea of sharing, but I’ve never had an issue. It just makes sense to them to look out for one another, and it’s a relief that they know they will have pencils, paper, etc. always available.

The day before school starts, I always print multiple labels for students to use with their names on them. I print ones for HW folders, math notebooks, weekly take home folders, etc. On the first day of school, I hand out the students’ labels and we spend a few minutes organizing the folders and notebooks they’ve brought. It’s much quicker, not to mention neater, than hand labeling everything. And, with all the zany colors and designs that are out there now, the labels are much easier to read!

As crazy as it sounds, organizing supplies on the first day of school is essential for me to get things off on the right foot. It’s a great way to establish some routines and expectations in the classroom, as well as communicate the idea that I am organized and no nonsense from day one. Chaos on the first day as items come in may not set the best tone, so have a plan. All those plastic grocery bags get overwhelming pretty fast!

2 responses to “First Days of School – Student Supplies

  1. Kim Collazo says:

    I’m with you 100% on the sharing of supplies. It has really helped build a sense of community in my classroom! I also agree that the time spent on labeling notebooks and other items during the first few days is such an essential part of getting off on the right foot for the year! Where on Earth did you get 100 folders for $1??

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