There are lots of things you need to set up a classroom. You need the standard school supplies like books, bulletin board displays and writing materials. But there are often a few other materials that make a classroom special.
I wanted to share 10 things that I use constantly in my classroom. They are really simple ideas, but they are things that the children in my classroom love and are important in our room for learning.
Over the years, these school supplies were used in my kindergarten through grade 2 classrooms.
School Supplies #1 Quiet Characters
Quiet characters are something new that I added to my classroom this year and I’m so glad that I did.
All you need to make quiet characters are large and small pompoms, googly eyes and feet. I used a piece of foam and cut different shaped feet. Glue the feet, eyes and a nose onto the large pompom, and you have quiet characters.
I used a cute little house that I found to keep our quiet characters in. There is one character for each of my students (and a few extras just in case.)
I introduced them to my students by showing them closed inside the house. I told them that they are very sensitive to sounds and as soon as I open their house we all have to be very quiet.
The quiet characters are also very fragile, so when I set them at the desk, they have to remain basically untouched. Children are allowed to moved them to a “perfect spot” on their desk, but they cannot be played with.
My students would often ask to bring out the quiet characters. During independent work periods, I would bring them out and the children were incredibly focused on their task and loved having their quiet character with them and watching them.
They worked as a great classroom management tool as well.
School Supplies #2 Fabrics
Fabrics may seem like an unusual classroom supply, however, I needed to included them in this list because of how much use they got in my classroom.
I used the fabrics constantly in my kindergarten classrooms for many things. We used them for outdoor education activities for children to build and create forts and homes.
We even used them outside to lay on the ground to mark centers and groups for outdoor work, almost like a picnic blanket.
Inside, we used them on our carpet when doing experiments and activities. I sometimes used them as table cloths for special events.
Children love the colors and their imagination could run wild for what the fabric could become during drama and dance lessons. Check out this collection of Outdoor Learning Activities that include a few ways I used the fabrics in my classroom, or this tent building activity for kids.
School Supplies #3 Mini Erasers
Mini erasers are another school supply that I use constantly for many things. In many subjects you often need counters or manipulatives. Mini erasers are perfect for this!
Mini erasers are inexpensive and kids love them! Whenever I bring them out I always give children a few minutes to handle and play with them. They are fun and colorful and keep children engaged.
We have used them a lot for math for counters. We also use them for sight word bingo and even measurement. The possibilities are endless.
I found a set of small containers that open easily that are the perfect size to keep the erasers organized and easy for kids to open and close. Check out this free math BINGO game that we used the mini erasers for.
School Supplies #4 Quiet Bins
Another supply that I added to my classroom this year are quiet bins. Quiet bins are basically a collection of bins that each have a different quiet activity inside.
From gel pens, to popsicle sticks and animal figures to create a farm to pipe cleaners and buttons to create trees, the possibilities are endless.
We often brought our quiet bins out during indoor recess periods or children used them when they had completed their work and had a few minutes to fill.
Many of the activities are great for fine motor skills and they can all be done quietly.
In many ways the quiet bins are simply a great back up to have in a classroom.
A link to the book “A Year of Educational Quiet Bins” can be found at the bottom, which will give you endless ideas for your classroom quiet bins.
School Supplies #5 Moveable Chart
I bought a lightweight chart easel a few years ago to replace a huge wooden chart stand that I had in my room. At the time it was just a replacement, but it ended up being something I use daily.
Most classrooms have chart stands. A lightweight write and wipe board is ideal in a classroom because it can be moved around the room as needed.
I use it when I work with small reading groups and I also use it in my split grade class when I pull one of my grades to work with them. I could move the chart to wherever in the room I was working with them.
The other bonus to this chart is that it is easy to take outside. Outdoor education has become very important and I love to take my class outside as much as possible. The chart is easy enough to grab to take with me and do our lesson outside.
Teacher Supplies #6 White Boards
Another school supply that I have had since my first year of teaching, over 15 years ago is a class set of white board.
I found a container that fit the boards and the top compartment is a small container that I can keep the write and wipe markers in.
The white boards are a great way to keep children engaged and accountable when doing work. We often get the boards out during math periods. In my experience, children are more likely to take a risk and write an answer on a white board because it is fun and feels a little bit like drawing.
The white boards are also perfect for outdoor learning because they are easy to carry and it gives each child a hard surface to write on.
Teacher Supplies #7 Clip Boards
Although we use the white boards for a lot of activities, I also have a class set of clipboards.
When doing scavenger hunts and write the room activities the clipboards come in handy – inside and outside the classroom.
I also had a set of the clipboards for our bulletin board display. Each child had a clipboard that I added their work to be displayed in the classroom. (Link to classroom set up at the bottom of the page or click here.)
Teacher Supplies #8 Magnifying Glasses
Magnifying glasses are another school supply that I purchased years ago that ended up having a lot of uses and we bring out a lot.
I teach a lot of science, and a simple science activity can turn into something very exciting with a set of magnifying glasses. Science tools like this make children feel like real scientists and keep children engaged and enjoying an activity.
We have even used the magnifying glasses outside to inspect different things.
Children have even used them during reading periods, just for fun to find specific words or look for sight words in a text. There’s something about having the magnifying glass that just makes it more fun! For a fun example of when I used the glasses in my classroom, check out this STEM project for kids.
Teacher Supplies #9 Felt Boards
When I was teaching kindergarten I made a huge felt board to use in my classroom. Since our kindergarten program is play based children loved playing and creating with the different felt characters and pieces. For steps on how to make a felt board, check here.
I used the felt board again in older grades, but with a focus. The felt shapes would be specific 2 shapes during our math units and the board makes a great center during art activities.
I later made some smaller felt boards out of old picture frames (link at bottom). This way each child had their own felt board to create with and answer questions on using a variety of felt cupouts.
Teacher Supplies #10 Group White Boards
I like being able to switch up the materials and ways that children do their work. There is always a time for pencil and paper, but when using something different, I have found that children are excited and more engaged.
I purchased large white boards that my students use. Typically I bring these large boards out for group work. Groups of 3-4 children can easily work on one board.
They are ideal for mind maps and even solving math problems. Often I would write a math problem on each board and have groups solve the problem by showing their work on the board. Later groups presented their work.
The other thing that I love about the large boards is that you can give each group member a different color of dry eraser marker. This way each child is held accountable because you can see how much writing each color/child did.
I hope that you have found a few new ideas for school supplies to bring to your classroom at school, or even at home. What you choose to bring into your room is what will make it special.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activities and ideas to do in the classroom, or at home with kids, below are some of my favourite and most popular learning activities.