No matter if you’re a brand new, first-year teacher or a seasoned one making their list for what’s needed when returning to the classroom for another year, it can be overwhelming to decide what’s essential in a primary classroom. There are SO many new trends, technology pieces, and decorative ideas out there, but I want to provide you with a strong list of necessary items that I know you and your students are going to use the most!
There are so many different uses for pocket charts! They’re one of the easiest ways to display a daily schedule, partner assignments, sight words of the week, or even centers information. They take up very little space and are easy to store when not in use, too.
The fun thing about pocket charts is that there are so many different types and styles that you can try. I’ve always had a tabletop pocket chart for my guided reading table for sorting and word building activities, such as these from my literacy centers. This is the tabletop pocket chart that I have and it folds up easily for storage, too!
You can use a large, standard pocket chart for whole-group activities, including this free Sneaky Pumpkin whole-group game.
On some websites you’ll find they can be on the more expensive side, but always check the sales and clearance pages first before ever paying full price! You can find lots of pocket charts on sale right now at Carson Dellosa!
It’s always a good idea to restock chart paper at the beginning of each school year! Of course modeling good handwriting is one way to utilize chart paper in your classroom, but you’ll also find it’s so useful for creating anchor charts that you can display throughout a lesson without having to give up your entire white board.
I’ve have found one of the cheapest places to order chart paper is from School Specialty which has multiple sizes to choose from as well!
Really, any kind of extra storage containers are going to be helpful, but the 3-drawer organizers are going to be your best friend! 😉 I love the ones with clear drawers the best. You can make or buy labels to match your classroom décor. I also love the 3-drawer storage because they make grouping supplies so easy (crayons/markers/colored pencils, glue sticks/liquid glue/scissors, etc.). Or use one at your desk as a simple “Grade, Copy, and File” organizer.
I’ve also seen teachers stack these organizers and label them as each day of the week so their lesson materials can be in one place for the week. You can find these at Walmart and Amazon, but I’ve founded Target to be the cheapest!
Classroom Library Books
Having a good-sized classroom library is super important for so many reasons! First and foremost, giving students access to high-quality books every day is a critical part of their development as lifelong readers.
A classroom library also serves as a simple resource for managing literacy centers. I’ve always included a stop at the classroom library in my center rotations.
We all know that at some point each day, you’ll likely have early finishers needing something to do, and it’s great for early finishers to have access to books! For example, the classroom library is a great option for students who finish their morning tub activity early.
Books can also serve as amazing lesson introductions or extensions that you can tie in year after year. I love thematic books and although most of my books are in organized bins, I like to display seasonal and thematic books in a book display shelf like this. I found mine at a garage sale for only $5 and ten years later, it’s still one of my favorite garage sale finds! Additionally, I always put read-aloud books there after I read them, as there’s usually a great deal of interest in those books.
Buying brand new books can be extremely expensive. You can almost always count on purchasing second hand books at garage sales, library book sales, and thrift stores. In my experience, people having a garage sale are very motivated to get rid of their stuff at good prices! Also, ask your friends and family! Many families have “outgrown” their books at home and are always looking for ways to donate their used books.
What is it about clipboards that make kids so obsessed with them? 🙂 Clipboards are always a big hit and they’re so handy when you want to take any lesson outside or away from your students’ desks. Getting students up and moving is so easy with clipboards. I highly recommend always having as many clipboards on hand as you do students in your classroom. Sharing clipboards usually isn’t very convenient! I always keep an eye out for clipboards at garage sales, but if you’re in a pinch, here’s a pack of 30 for a decent price on Amazon.
I’ve used a spare book display stand for clipboard storage and I LOVED it. Before that I had stored them in a crate, but the display stand was so much easier! I don’t have a good picture of it but you can see it in the left-hand corner of this photo.
*TIP* – Get the clipboards with the flat, low profile clip. They make stacking and storing so much easier!
There’s no denying that little ones have a tough time staying organized. 🙂 And there’s also no denying that kids love to stuff as much as they can into that little desk of theirs! Seat pockets are super helpful for eliminating desk clutter and keeping supplies easily accessible and organized. You can decide whatever supplies you’d like stored in them, but even just storing school library books that students have checked out is a simple way to utilize them!
I actually don’t use seat pockets at my students’ seats, but instead I use them at my guided reading table. They help reduce clutter on my side of the table. Each seat pocket has an alphabet chart, a white board and marker, and a container of mini erasers or counters. I love using seat pockets at our groups table because it saves time. Instead of handing out supplies, I can get an activity ready while students reach into their pocket and grab what they need.
Although they’re handy, true seat pockets are outrageously pricey. These Home Depot apron alternatives are almost just as handy and are only a fraction of the cost! If you’re feeling motivated, you can also find some patterns online to make your own. This is what I did and they were easier than I expected!
As a primary teacher, you’re going to be doing a lot of cutting. Like a lot. 😉 While this item may seem like more of a luxury than ultimate necessity, I can’t tell you how much time it saved me having my own! From a year’s-worth of morning tub activities to literacy centers, having my own paper cutter has helped out a ton. Pretty much every school is going to have one available, but more times than not it’s being used when you need it or the blade is dull, making it tough to get cutting done during your planning period.
Many paper cutters, like this one, are portable enough to take home if you want to finish your cutting on the couch, too! For a classroom one, there are tons of options out there, but this one on Amazon is a great price and has thousands of great reviews! Both of these tend to go on sale quite often so if they’re full-price right now, keep checking.
Just a reminder – ALWAYS be sure you keep a paper cutter up and out of your students’ reach.
What are your must-haves?
I know this list only covers the very tip of the iceberg, but I hope you can be on the lookout for these items this summer as you prepare your classroom! For those of you veteran teachers, what are some of your favorite must have classroom supplies? I’d love for you to share in the comments below!
**This post includes affiliate links. Read more about our affiliate policy here.