20+ classroom essentials for back to school. These teacher must-haves include supplies and activities, books, class management ideas, and more!
Classroom Essentials for Back-to-School
Are you ready for the first day back to school? The students’ smiling faces after a summer of fun, and their anticipation about their new classroom, friends and of course, their new teacher, is always an exciting time. Here is a list of 20+ back to school classroom essentials!
Classroom Essentials: Supplies and Resources for the First Week Back
Your school may have the basic things like pencils, paper, sticky notes, and even bulletin board decorating supplies. But do you have the extras? You know, the things that make teaching FUN! These things are certainly classroom essentials for any teacher.
- It’s the Little Things: Before you think about things to make learning fun for your kids, do something for YOURSELF. Collect some fun colored pens and markers, highlighters, sticky notes, and some pretty things for your own desk and window. You know, the little things that make your teacher heart happy. As you go throughout the day, having these little things will give you a little boost to your senses and some fun to YOUR day!
- Classroom Provisions: The kids will love some special things to make their day bright and cheerful. A few extra things like brightly colored storage bins for organizing, some cheerful desk labels, and some fresh new scissors, markers, and crayons will make their first week back special. Think about what you would have enjoyed in your classroom as a kid – and if you can, provide that for your students. They’ll thank you with smiles on the first day of school.
- A Handy Checklist: Be sure to print out my free beginning of the year teacher checklist. It will help you get organized and remember those important details.
- Prepare Your Portfolios: Will your students have portfolios this year? They are great for organizing student work and for during conferences.
- Plan Some Themes: Thematic units are so much fun, and the kids don’t even realize how many different subjects and learning activities are melted into each theme. Here’s a great one for the beginning of the year – a fall Science and Nonfiction ELA unit.
- Decorate: Decorate your classroom in STYLE and create a cohesive theme! Pastel colors are soft on the eyes, look beautiful on walls, and will brighten your students’ day.
Classroom Essentials: Books for Back-to-School
Here are some books I recommend that are classroom essentials that new and seasoned teachers will enjoy. Some are for you; some are for your students. Either way, here are a few suggestions to stock your classroom or personal shelves.
- Get Inspired: Treat yourself to some inspiration, focus, and motivation with Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action K-5, by Debbie Miller. This book will help you define your purpose at the beginning of the year and motivate you to stick to it year-round.
- Tools for Success: Create an environment in which all children can succeed, no matter their needs, differences, or circumstances. Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough is a great book to give you the knowledge you need to do so.
- Build Your Classroom Library: Gather the necessary books for your classroom bookshelf and teaching reference. I highly suggest having lots of books that help to teach alphabet recognition, such as these.
Classroom Essentials: Classroom Management Ideas
Classroom management is the foremost important thing to make sure you’ve planned well. It may be the most important of all classroom essentials. Without a solid structure of rules and consequences, methods for managing behavior and routines, and motivational strategies, you may struggle to be productive and meet your goals for the year. Try out some of these ideas.
- Top Ten: My top ten ideas for classroom management can be found here. These are the ideas I’ve found to be very effective and would recommend them to anyone!
- Classroom Jobs: Consider assigning classroom jobs to your students, to keep your classroom running efficiently and giving everyone a sense of responsibility.
- Creative Rewards: Reward your students for their positive efforts daily with these 5 creative and cost-effective solutions. They are kid and teacher approved!
- Establish your Classroom: Be sure to check out these ten teacher tips for the first week back to school. It includes recommendations for establishing routines and procedures, decorating the classroom, and ideas for initial assessments, plus more! Use this list as a checklist to help you!
- Early Finishers: Keep those fast finishers busy, by preparing these activity cards in advance, and teaching your students how to reference them and keep themselves busy while others finish their work.
- For First Year Teachers: Are you a new teacher? Be encouraged and inspired by reading my tips for new teachers. You’re going to have a great first year!
Innovative and Inspiring Ideas to Start the Year Right
There are so many new ideas and opportunities in the world of teaching. So many ways to do it right, and yet it can be overwhelming. Here are some innovative and inspiring ideas that you can perhaps try out this year. They are proving to be great methods with which other teachers are finding success.
- Building Community: Making a conscious effort to build community in your classroom will get your class off to a great start!
- Flexible Seating: Have you heard or seen classroom teachers find success with flexible seating? It could be a positive new change for your classroom too!
- Working with Parents: Begin to foster positive relationships with your students’ parents. Make a plan for making an effort to communicate consistently and show that you care.
- STEM and STEAM: Don’t forget to incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) or STEAM (add Art to the mix) activities into your lesson plans and themes. Highly favored in the school system, STEM and STEAM provide opportunities for kids to practice skills they will need in their careers one day. It’s up to us to develop those skills. For more information on STEM and STEAM, check out this post.
First Week Back Activities to Plan
Get to know your students by having them create a self-portrait. Provide them with a variety of art and drawing supplies, and let them be creative. Encourage them to write a description of themselves for you to read. This is a fun self-awareness project for them and an ice-breaker for you to learn a little bit about each child.
- The Rules: Don’t forget to go over rules and expectations, procedures and schedules with your students, starting on the first day. In fact, it should probably be one of the first things you cover. Think of what rules you will enforce in your room, and go ahead and put them up on your wall for easy introduction on the first day.
- Engaging Activity: This school bus directed drawing is an engaging art activity to grab students’ attention and begin instructing them in how to follow directions.
- Establish New Routines: Classroom meetings are a great thing to place within your routine, and play a huge role in building community within the classroom. Here are tips for how to hold effective classroom meetings. End the day with another routine: the “end-the-day box.” Write conversation starter questions on small pieces of paper and place them into an empty decorated tissue box. Bring the kids together and have a quick, 5-minute group discussion about a question or thought drawn from the jar. Waiting for the dismissal bell will be a community-building culmination of the day.
Back to School Social-Emotional Learning Resource
This back to school social emotional learning resource is the perfect companion to your start of school lesson plans. It includes mini-lesson ideas and engaging activities that build connections in the classroom and teach important social and emotional skills to children during the most important time of year!
The mind+heart SEL back to school resource and activities will support kids as they learn to be positive members of the classroom community, develop self-awareness, build new relationships, and act with kindness and empathy.
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