10 Essentials for Your Special Ed Classroom

I love summer- the warm weather, the time off, the vacations, the back to school sales....I can't resist the school supply section when I walk into the store.  Every year, I stock up on my essentials for my classroom.  Here are the top 10 things I cannot live without.

1. Velcro
I use velcro for everything.  Seriously, everything.  I like the velcro dots.  They also save my scissors.  If you are using lots of velcro, I do recommend having a pair of velcro scissors.  I also have a system for my velcro- the soft/loop dot goes on the item and the hard/hook dot goes on the piece that's removable.  I stay consistent with this so that icons can be interchangeable on different schedules or folders or binders.

2. Lamination
Also used for everything, especially in special ed.  You never know where things will end up.  I figure if I am going to take the time to prep something, I am going to laminate it and use it again and again.  My school's laminator doesn't always seal very well and I get charged by the foot for it.  It's cheaper for me to buy pouches.  I get these from Sam's Club (200 for $20).

3. White 1" binders
I prefer white, but they can be colorful if you prefer.  I use 1" binders for my student's data.  Each student has a binder.  I'm a little OCD in that I like them to be the same.

4. Clipboards
I like clipboards for behavior data.  It's easier to access than when it's in a binder.  I also use them for my behavioral trackers and for token boards.

5. 3M mounting tape (aka the red sticky stuff)
This is my go to for hanging things.  My classroom has brick walls and it's a pain to hang things up.  I hate having to pull out a glue gun and try not to burn myself.  This stuff is amazing.  I use it to hang everything, from posters to picture frames to bulletin boards (really, it's amazing).  It's expensive, but SO worth it.

6. Cardstock
Again, if I' going to take the time to make it and prep it, I want it to last more than one use.

7. Binder pencil pouches
I put a pencil pouch in each data binder for materials that are needed for student programs.  Then I put a pencil pouch on the back of each student's chair (with velcro!).  That's where they keep their everyday supplies, like pencils and dry erase markers.

8. Poly folders with prongs
I use these for my daily communication with parents.  They last a lot better than the paper folders.  I also use them for my students to take to their general education classes.  They also are a lot harder to rip and don't hurt as bad when they are thrown at you.

9. Printable labels
I don't know about you but I'm big on labeling things.  I print labels at the beginning of the year with my student's names on them and all of their supplies get labeled.  That way when there are dry erase markers or clipboards laying around the room, I know where they belong.  And that way, when students say they lost their supplies, we can easily locate them in someone else's pouch.  I've found that they are way more responsible for their supplies when they are labeled.

10. Sheet protectors
Instead of laminating worksheets, I prefer to use sheet protectors.  They are easy to erase and a lot cheaper than buying lamination pouches.

I know I said only 10, but this one is good.
11. Ikea clocks
We work a lot on telling time and time management in my classroom and I HATE those Judy clocks.  They are so unrealistic and people rarely put the hour hand in the correct spot when the time is anywhere past the hour.  It makes it even harder for my students to generalize.  So at the beginning of the year, I always buy a couple of these clocks from Ikea for only $2 each.  They have a little dial on the back so you can change the time to practice and the hands move like they would if there were batteries in it.  Plus if they get broken, it's no big deal because they are so cheap.

That's my go to list of back to school supplies.  What about you?  Is there anything you can't live without that I didn't list?
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