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.
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I use Velcro for everything. Seriously, everything. Do yourself (and your scissors) a favor and buy the hook & loop dots. If you are using lots of Velcro, I do recommend having a designated pair of 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. Soft on the surface, hard on the card! I stay consistent with this so that icons can be interchangeable on different schedules or folders or binders.
Also used for everything, especially in a special education classroom. 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 have tried lots of brands, but my go-to is this pack from Amazon.
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 gets a binder that holds all of their data sheets and program materials. I also use a white binder for my group data binders. I stick a binder spine from my classroom decor sets on the side and it makes my heart happy!
I prefer clipboards for behavior data or for data that is collected throughout the day. It's easier to carry around a clipboard and quickly record data across the day than when it's in a binder. I also use clipboards for my first/then schedules and for token boards, and each of my paraprofessionals has a colored clipboard with their schedule and weekly focus check-in.
3M mounting tape
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 works for everything). It's a little expensive but SO worth it, and you only need a little bit for it to stick.
Again, if I'm going to take the time to make it and prep it, I want it to last more than one use. I generally print items on cardstock that will be manipulated and moved around often, like visual schedule icons. This is my favorite cardstock.
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.
Poly folders with prongs
I use poly folders for my daily communication with parents. They last a lot longer than the plain 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 fit nicely in a folder pocket chart.
I don't know about you but I'm big on labeling #allthethings. 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 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.
Instead of laminating worksheets, I prefer to use sheet protectors. They are easy to erase if you use a dry erase marker and a lot cheaper than lamination pouches. You will want to make sure you buy the clear, glossy kind- some of the non-glare kind have a texture that makes it harder to erase the dry erase ink.
Ok, that's 10, but here is a final bonus!
We work a lot on telling time and time management in my classroom and I HATE those bright yellow 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 cheap clocks. Ikea used to carry them for $2. Walmart has one for around $4. 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 essentials for my special education classroom. What about you? Is there anything you can't live without that I didn't list?