Oh, the Supplies!

Tips for Collecting Supplies on the First Day of School

Despite having a slightly unhealthy love affair with shiny new school supplies (just typing those words makes me float off to a happy daydream involving pointy crayons that reek of Crayola newness and unsharpened pencils with perfect little erasers), I despise the chaos that they can evoke on the first day of school.
If you have been teaching awhile you know what I mean.
If you are new to the classroom this year, you will thank me for sparing you the headache.

Here’s how it plays out: A classroom of kids enters wearing their spiffy new duds, modeling their stylish new haircut and sporting their brand-spanking new backpack full of the bounty you enlisted them to acquire via your annual “supply letter.”
They are excited and they can’t wait to force upon you said backpack. Those who elected not to adhere to the list that specifically said 24 yellow, #2 pencils are especially excited to show off their collection of Mario Kart pencils with (gasp) scented erasers.

Yeah, I get it. I’m not so far removed from my own brand-spanking new Trapper Keeper excitement days to have forgotten the glee it brings. But, as ring master of this circus it is important to have a plan.

A good plan. The first day sets the tone and it is doubtful that you want that tone to be “crazed lunatic who breaks down on day one when the Rosearts, Sharpies and glue sticks start coming out. So I have a few options for you.

I’ll start with the best one. Because it is the most efficient and organized waknow.

Start by schmoozing with the teenage bagger at your local grocery store. If you can’t butter him up then just go straight to the head Honcho and play the teacher card with the store manager. However you go about it, you need to get a large paper grocery sack for each child in your class. If you aren’t in the business of begging for free goodies then just answer “paper” to the “paper or plastic” question for the next few weeks and you should be all set when school starts.

Write the children’s names in big, bold letters on the front of the bags and then place them on their desks.



Make a copy of your supply list for each child and staple it to the back of the bag. Write their name on that as well.
When the students arrive, instruct them to put all of their supplies into the bag on their desk quickly and silently, hang their bag onto their chair and sit quietly.

Collect the bags and put them out of the way. Go about your first day plans. Then after the kiddos are on their way home (or if you are lucky enough to have an aide or a student teacher she can do this), sort through the supplies. Use the checklist on the bag to make sure that everything is accounted for.
If you are going to use community supplies then put them where you want them.

If you are going to have them be responsible for their own supplies then print out a sheet of labels with each child’s name on it and stick them on.

I suggest recruiting a parent volunteer or a former student to help with this task.

I also print out a list of the supplies w/ each child's # and check off each item as I organize.



RELATED BLOG POSTS

Organization Tip: Numbering Student Supplies


Thanks to Hurricane Irene, I got a ton of stuff done for school this weekend.
Actually, it wasn't so much Hurricane Irene as it was the hype surrounding the possibility of her blowing through these here parts that motivated me to chip away at the 'ole to do list.

I'll wave my freak flag high and proud and admit to you all that I actually made TWO to do lists. We had the regular weekend to do list and the "things I can do in the event that we lose electricity and/or internet to do list." That is how much I love me some list-making. Anyhow, I took on some of the "no power needed" tasks which I had been putting off because they lack a component of fun.
Although mundane and over the top, I labeled all of my student supplies.
I usually do individual supplies.
Last year I did community supplies.
And I hated it.
Yes, I know "hate" is a strong word, but that's how much I loathed it. In fact, I didn't just hate it. I HATED it!!!! (See that. All caps, with bold font, AND an few exclamation points. That's how I felt about community supplies.)
My friends just didn't care for the supplies the way that they do when they are their very own. Glue sticks were dried out. Crayons were peeled and broken. Colored pencils were sharpened down to a nub. It gave me hives.
This year I am back to the individual supply boxes. There are, however, downfalls that come with having individual supplies. One of which is the petty arguments over who owns what. You've seen it. Two friends bickering because they can't determine who owns the red colored pencil that is 3/8 of an inch longer than the other one. It's bigger and therefore perceived as better and that means they both want it. Which also means you'll need to referee.
So to eliminate that problem. Along with the problem of lost supplies. I label them.
I know what you are thinking...No brainer, right?
Well, I go a step further and label all parts. Instead of just writing a name/number on the box of markers, I write it on each marker AND cap. I also write it on the pencils AND the erasers. I write it on the watercolors AND the brushes. I label the base of the glue stick and the tube which it slides into.
I know what you are thinking. Go ahead and say it. "OCD much?"
I realize it takes anal retentive to a whole new level, BUT there is never a second of time in class wasted mediating an argument over who a crayon belongs to. I never have to pick up the cap of a marker and wonder who will be sobbing because their blue crayola is all dried out the next time we do a project. It's definitely time well spent.

Anytime you can find a way to proactively make your classroom run more efficiently, I feel it is worth putting forth the effort. Our days are so short. We simply don't have time for distractions.
With my OCD labeling, I find that kids don't spend time off task mindlessly peeling crayons or doing that annoying drill a hole in the eraser with a pencil thing because they are accountable for their belongings. It ensures that each child is prepared for each project and not waiting for a tablemate to finish up using a gluestick.

It also makes me happy knowing that those little ones who get giddy over pristine school supplies the same way that I do are able to enjoy a box of items in tip top shape even when spring rolls around.
Have you clicked on my product button over there on the right? If not, check it out. There are a bunch of freebies available on there to help you organize and manage your classroom. :)
Do you do anything over the top in your classroom that you think is well worth the time investment?

Avoid the Chaos of Collecting School Supplies 
Despite having a slightly unhealthy love affair with shiny new school supplies (just typing those words makes me float off to a happy daydream involving pointy crayons that reek of Crayola newness and unsharpened pencils with perfect little erasers), I despise the chaos that they can evoke on the first day of school.




If you have been teaching awhile you know what I mean.



If you are new to the classroom this year, you will thank me for sparing you the headache.


Here’s how it plays out: A classroom of kids enters wearing their spiffy new duds, modeling their stylish new haircut and sporting their brand-spanking new backpack full of the bounty you enlisted them to acquire via your annual “supply letter.”

They are excited and they can’t wait to force upon you said backpack. Those who elected not to adhere to the list that specifically said 24 yellow, #2 pencils are especially excited to show off their collection of Mario Kart pencils with (gasp) scented erasers.

Yeah, I get it. I’m not so far removed from my own shiny new Trapper Keeper excitement days to have forgotten the glee it brings. But, as ring master of this circus it is important to have a plan.

A good plan. 

A really good plan.

The first day sets the tone and it is doubtful that you want that tone to be “crazed lunatic who breaks down on day one when the Rosearts, Sharpies and glue sticks start coming out. So I have a few options for you.

I’ll start with the best one. Because it is the most efficient and organized way I know.

Start by schmoozing with the teenage bagger at your local grocery store. If you can’t butter him up then just go straight to the head Honcho and play the teacher card with the store manager. However you go about it, you need to get a large paper grocery sack for each child in your class. If you aren’t in the business of begging for free goodies then just answer “paper” to the “paper or plastic” question on your next trip (and ask neighbors to do the same) and you should be all set when school starts.

You can simply write the childrens' names in big, bold letters on the front of the bags or you can use the snazzy printables I made and then place them at their seats.
If you are using my printables, make a copy of your supply list on the other side of each and staple it to the bag. 

When the students arrive, instruct them to put all of their supplies into the bag and place the filled bag in a designated spot (a teacher table, counter or along a wall works well).

Forget about the bags and go about your first day plans. Then after the kiddos are on their way home (or if you are lucky enough to have an aide or a student teacher he/she can do this), sort through the supplies. Use the checklist on the bag to make sure that everything is accounted for.

If you are going to use community supplies then put them where you want them.

If you are going to have them be responsible for their own supplies make sure they are labeled with each child's name or number.

I suggest recruiting a parent volunteer or a former student to help with this task.
I also print out a list of the supplies w/ each child's # and check off each item as I organize. I do this to make sure everyone has all of the necessary supplies and so that if a family sends in one of the "requested donations" items I can write a thank you note. If supplies are missing you may want to send home a reminder note or else supplement the materials to be sure each student has everything they need.


{click to access and print my Organizing Students' Supplies Packet}



Tips for Shopping for School Supplies For Your Classroom


For some it is the excitement of a new school year.



For others it is the fact that having the summer off equates to a surplus of hours in which to shop.


For others it is out of necessity because their school or the families they work with do not provide the materials needed to run a classroom.

Whatever the cause, teachers everywhere are filling carts with markers, glues ticks and folders. Here are some tips and a few freebies that may help save you some time and money.

AVOID IMPULSE BUYS
  • Set a budget and stick to it. I know it’s easier said than done. Consider determining what you will spend, put that amount into an envelope and work strictly within that budget.

  • Stay out of the stores. If you don’t actually need to go buy something specific, spend your days at the beach or pool instead. At this time of year you are far more likely to make impulse purchases for your classroom. Avoid the temptation.


GET TO KNOW STORE POLICIES
  • Many will price match competitors. This is important because the less stores you visit...the less you spend.

  • A lot of stores will credit you the difference if an item you buy goes on sale within 30 days. It may be best to buy everything you need all at once from a store that historically has had good sales while the supplies are plentiful and then go back with your receipt if they drop. Keep your receipt in your wallet so you have it handy if needed.

  • Per person limits on sale items don’t always apply to everyone. Some stores (Staples in particular) offer higher limits for teachers. Call ahead and ask to speak to the manager. 

BE A HIGH-TECH SHOPPER
  • Check for upcoming sales online.  A lot of stores put their circulars on their website well in advance.
  • Use your Smartphone to comparison shop while in the store or to pull up coupons.
  • Subscribe to Lakeshore’s texts for weekly deals.
MISC
  • Buddy up with colleagues. You can often save money by buying in bulk.
  • Work with your accountant to use your school-related purchases as tax deductions.
  • If your state offers a tax-free shopping weekend in August, take advantage of it 
KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE AND WHAT YOU NEED:
Make a master list of the supplies you need in your classroom. Inventory your current supply. Create a shopping list to get only the items you will truly need.

I have created a few FREE resources to help. 

I created The Ultimate Classroom Supplies Checklist to show my gratitude to my blog and store followers a couple of years ago. I had wanted to make something that could be useful to a large population of teachers. It has since been downloaded almost 63,000 times! Crazy! It includes a master list of everything you may need for your classroom. Use it to create a list that is specific to you.

Last year, as part of my ink-saving Blackline Design series, I added another freebie to my inventory.  The greyscale shopping lists come in a variety of patterns. The Blackline Design products were created to be printed in blacn and white and reproduced on a photocopier instead of needing to be printed over and over in color. You can see all of the products in that line on the related Pinterest page.

Free Ultimate Back to School Supply Shopping Guide
{via}

School Supply Shopping List for Teachers



Can you believe the back to school sales have started already and school supplies are now lining the shelves that just recently housed items for summer vacation fun? 


While we just ended the school year less than a week ago and lots of you can relate to the cartoon above, many states have been out for weeks and the 4th of July is an unofficial time to start thinking about the new school year. For that reason I figured now would be a good time to share a free resource I made awhile back that many teachers have found to be very useful. The Ultimate Back to School Supply Checklist is especially handy for new teachers so please feel free to share this FREE resource with anyone you think would benefit from it.

{Click to Access and Download this FREE Resource}
Shopping for School Supplies

It's the time of year when a trip to Target means an internal struggle for me.


Part of me is so sad to see the summer fun on clearance, but another part of me is giddy over the rows and rows of unsharpened pencils, pristine composition notebooks, unbroken crayons and shiny new gluesticks that do not yet have that dirty, grimy film on the outside.

It is so easy to get caught up in the allure of all those fabulous school supplies and walk out of the store with an abundance of Crayola products, binders, and looseleaf paper that you don't need. 

Because let's face it. It is hard to walk out empty-handed on a good day. When everything is being offered up for a quarter you just don't stand a chance.

Or do you?
{Click here to access and download this FREE product}
Here are my tips for not overstocking or overspending on school supplies.

#1 Make a List
So. very. important.  Decide what you'll need, write it down, think it through. 
And then shop around for the deals.

#2 Stagger your Shopping
Stores tend to put a few items on sale each week. Cross items off your shopping list a few at a time as they are marked down.

OR

#3 Do your shopping at Target or Walmart or other stores that have 30 day policies. Basically, if you buy a product and it gets marked down within the next 30 days you can bring in your receipt for a refund of the difference. The benefit to this is that you get all of your supplies before they get picked over. The downside is that you may forget to go back. Decide if it's worth the gamble.

#4 Plan ahead as a time saver: If you find yourself buying the same items year after year, it may be a great timesaver to buy in advance. For example, I always use composition books as writer's notebooks, binders to store each of the completed writing packets, and 3 prong folders as communication books. By buying them now for the following school year, I am able to work on them at school in the spring so they are ready to go before school gets out. Otherwise my house transforms into a summer workshop and makes my hubby crazy.

#5 Use your list to inventory what you have purchased. Staple your receipts directly to it and file it for taxes. This list will also be handy next summer when you hit the stores again.

I created a free printable to help you plan and manage your shopping trip(s). This product was designed as part of my versatile, ink-saving Blackline Design Collection.  


{Click here to access and download this FREE product}

Free Ultimate Back to School Supply List

Around this time of year, Sundays start to mean that the weekly Back to School sales are published in the circulars and online. While my heart is at the beach and my mind is poolside, I have learned that it is beneficial to shop in dribs and drabs when each of the items I need are on sale. 

So since it is Sunday.

And because I love you.

I wanted to make sure you knew about my free Ultimate Back to School Shopping Checklist.
{click to access and print this FREE product}

It's 100% free (always has been and always will be) and includes absolutely everything you may need in a classroom.

{click to access and print this FREE product}
I suggest you download it from my store, print the shopping list template and use them to jot down the items that apply to you and your teaching situation.  Inventory the things you already have and make note of what you will need.
{click to access and print this FREE product}
This will allow you to easily grab what you need when it is dirt cheap. 


By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.


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