What's in Your Back to School Shopping Cart?

I'm pretty sure there's not a teacher out there that doesn't anticipate, with mixed emotions, the first Back to School ads in the paper.  (Think: New Supplies!! New teaching resources!! YAY!! :D  Reality check: What do you mean, summer is almost over?!? Boo! )

In my shopping cart, "must-haves" included: folders (multiple classroom sets, color-coded by groups and/or units), comp books (I'd buy them by the case!), spiral notebooks (Not a huge fan- pages tear out easily, and for some reason, the spiral wires tend to "fall out" of the notebooks... yet, I'd buy them because they're cheap!), pencils, erasers, pens, colored pencils, markers, glue, tape, rulers & protractors (just replacing broken ones), scissors (for those kids that never seem to have them) and pencil sharpeners.

As a rational thinker, I knew I'd need all that stuff, so I might as well buy when the cost is greatly reduced. Even thought I'm no longer in the classroom, I'm still like a kid in a candy store at this time of year!

And now- some back-to-school  thoughts & musings...


Pencil sharpeners... We all know the old school-issued wall-mount sharpeners do not work. I always started the year with a new electric pencil sharpener, or two.  I usually had to buy more mid year, because they broke.  You'd think Titanium would last forever, so I continued to buy the iPoint sharpener from Costco. (Isn't that the definition of insanity- doing the same them over and over, yet expecting different results?)  Sad to say, I'm still looking for that perfect sharpener. If you found a sharpener that's a work horse, please share with us!

I will admit, it's not always the sharpener's fault.  Kids are rough on them. They think they have to cram the pencil down hard. (Maybe they should hire kids for research and development to use and abuse their product. The sharpeners that survive are manufactured and labeled: Kid tested, teacher approved!) I even included a mini-lesson on how to use the sharpener, hoping it would last at least until Thanksgiving!

Also, some colored pencils or the pencils made in China tend to clog the electric sharpeners because the lead or wood is too soft.

Speaking of pencils... I've found the pencils made in China have horrible erasers (they're hard, they smudge, they tear paper, they're generally useless), so I planned on students either needing the eraser caps or separate erasers- it was always on their supply lists.   My preferred brand was and is Ticonderoga. I'd buy them in bulk at Costco.  I am not a mechanical pencil fan. Evidently, they don't make a lead I can't break.  That, and I really didn't like hearing, "I don't have any lead for my pencil."  Sigh...

My own school store... I always had a surplus of most-used supplies on hand that I purchased during the BTS sales. I let students know, when they would run out, they could buy them from me at the BTS sale price I paid for them.  I found that to be a whole lot easier than the constant reminders to replenish their supplies, and parents appreciated the price break.  Also, I used my "school store" items as reward options. It's much better than candy!

Bouncy balls for bouncy kids...  You know you've got them (bouncy kids) and will have them again. What can you do with those wiggle worms so they get the movement they need and you're not spending your quality teaching time reminding students to focus?  Many SPED classrooms have the round bouncing therapy balls  for those kids that need to be constantly moving. The good ones have feet to keep them from rolling around, when not being used. Who knew?!?

I had a couple round ones I had purchased, and everyone wanted to sit on them. They're not cheap, so I'd suggest trying the crowd funding sites. Who knows? Maybe Stephen Colbert will be watching and will pick up the tab!

I chuckle when I hear people say, "Teachers spend up to $500 of  their  own  money, each year on supplies!" I always spent waaaaayyyy beyond my paltry classroom budget and that $500 benchmark on supplies and resources, and I bet you do, as well.  What is in your back-to-school shopping cart this year?

Hmmm... I'm feeling a little nostalgic.  It must be time for me to visit the school supply rows in Target- you know... for old time's sake.  ;)