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Back to School Must Haves

Anyone else already thinking about back to school? 🙋‍♀️ After years in the classroom, I’ve learned one important lesson. Time spent preparing and organizing is time well spent. Before the first day of school, I prep a collection of resources that will keep our classroom running smoothly all year. From student supplies to parent communication,  these back to school must haves are perfect!

I originally started with classroom supplies, but I realized my students needed extra support at home too. These resources give students consistent learning tools they use at school and at home. They also empower families to help their children and let them see exactly what you are using in your classroom.

If you’re shopping for school supplies, I added some affiliate links to make it easier for you to find what you need.

Take Home Learning Folders

Most classrooms use folders for sending papers home. I transformed my traditional folder into a home learning resource for families. 

These Take Home Learning Folders are the BEST! You choose the cover, stickers, language arts resources, and math resources that work best for your students. There are even spots to add student names, teacher contact information, log ins, and passwords.  

Here are some ways to prep your Take Home Learning Folders:

  • Use 3 prong poly folders and page protectors. Slide the math and language arts pages into the page protectors
  • Use a plain 2 pocket folder. Glue the math and language arts pages onto the front and back of the folder. Laminate for durability.
  • Laminate the math and language arts pages front to back. Slide this learning insert into folders. 
  • For a personal classroom office for students, glue the inserts on a file folder and laminate. This is great for writing support or a privacy screen. 

Fridge Friend

As a parent, I know how hectic our family schedule and our house can be. I wanted to create a resource that families could keep in one spot and reference ALL year so I created Fridge Friend. 

Like the take home folders, you can choose the templates that work best for you and add your own information. Families can hang the resource on their refrigerator and use it for extra practice or homework support.  

Here are some ideas for Fridge Friend:

  • Laminate the pages front to back before sending home
  • Slide the pages into a page protector.
  • Optional: provide families with magnetic clips to keep their resource on the fridge

Personal Word Walls

As I was assembling folders, I realized –“HEY! Your kids really need a word wall at home too.” Making the personal word walls editable was important so we can add words or customize the lists.

Here are some ideas for using personal word walls:

  • If you’re using a 3 prong folder, add another page protector and slide in the word wall.
  • If you’re creating student offices or privacy screens, attach the word wall to one side of the folder.
  • Make students a copy of their personal word wall to keep in their writing folder

Pencil Box Name Tags

I started using pencil box name tags  years ago, and I still LOVE them!  Kids can keep their supplies organized, and they have learning tools that can travel around the room! You can click here to learn more about that. 

Here are some supplies to keep in your pencil boxes:

  • sharpened pencils
  • eraser
  • dry erase marker
  • piece of black felt (dry erase eraser)
  • 24 pack of crayons
  • glue stick *write student number on tube and on the cap 🙌
  • scissors

Several designs for pencil box name tags are available because different teachers need different things. The tags fit perfectly on the plastic pencil boxes you can get for $1 at Target, Walmart, Michaels, drug stores. etc. I didn’t link to any pencil boxes, because I can’t find them online for a consistent reasonable price. You don’t need to pay more than $1 for them- trust me!

The name tags also fit into the clear window of pencil pouches if you like that option!

Individual Math Toolboxes

For many years, I used community supplies for math. A lot of my planning time was wasted counting out 24 sets of pennies, and a lot of my instructional time has been used giving out 48 dice before a game. I don’t know why I never used individual math kits before, but now I’m never going back. 

I wanted labels for my student math kits that serve as a student reference.  Now, there are charts on the outside and tools on the inside. Plastic 4×6 photo storage boxes are the perfect size for our materials!

Here are some supplies you might want to keep in each student math kit:

  • dice
  • counters
  • connecting cubes
  • mini erasers
  • coins
  • number cards for games
  • paperclips / toothpicks (nonstandard measurement)

Back to School Must Haves

As a teacher, you understand the value of planning and preparation! These resources will save you time and simplify classroom organization and parent communication all year!

Here are the top reasons why individual supplies are a must in any classroom:

  1. No lost planning or instructional time prepping and passing out materials.
  2. Students can use learning tools at school and at home.
  3. Families have access of log in information at all times.
  4. Students can take home materials they need for learning.

You can create your own individual student supply materials or CLICK HERE to get everything ready for you now

You’re obviously the kind of teacher who wants the very best for the children in your class. Getting ready with all your back to school must haves now will make the start of the school year that much sweeter! If you have other back to school supplies you love, share your ideas with other teachers in the comments below!

Emily Yerty

Emily Yerty

I’m a first grade teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

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