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Every Must-Have Classroom Items All Teachers Need

School supply shopping is a time of year that teachers both dread and love. You need to restock for the school year to provide the best classroom experience.

For teachers, there’s nothing more fun than decorating your classroom to be a fun place of learning that will help your students stay focused while they work. 

Every Must-Have Classroom Items All Teachers Need

When buying supplies for the school year, you need to prepare yourself for all situations.

You need to decorate your classroom, ensure you have stationery ready and have games and books available for recess.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you organize your classroom shopping list by category and explain why these are so essential for you to have.

By the end of this article, we’re confident you’ll know exactly what you need and have the best ideas to get the best price for your items. 

But first, let’s talk a little bit about the different supplies that you’ll need to think about when you’re shopping. 

Student Supplies

Every student needs supplies, and it’s up to you whether your students can bring them or rely on a community of supplies.

Keep in mind if you have students buy their own items, they can get attached to them. While a community supply can be good to have on hand, some parents may have bought supplies specifically for their kids.

So, keep that in mind when you’re considering what your students should buy and what you should too.

  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Watercolor Paints
  • Pocket Folders
  • Folders with Prongs
  • Spiral Notebooks
  • Composition Notebooks
  • Binders
  • Dividers
  • Glue Sticks
  • Liquid Glue
  • Clipboards
  • Individual Dry Erase Boards
  • Bookmarks
  • Pencil Case

If you’re getting your students to bring their own items, you should allow them to choose a pencil case to hold their pencils and other supplies.

Likewise, you can set specific rules about notebooks or allow students to pick one that showcases their own individuality. This might not be the best idea if you plan on going with community supplies. 

Teacher Supplies

Every teacher needs their own selection of supplies to keep in the classroom at all times. However, these should be kept separate from the personal items you bring into the classroom.

We’ve included a selection of personal supplies you should bring into your classroom below, but this section will encompass everything you need for yourself and your students.

  • Stickers
  • Gradebook
  • Date Stamps
  • Personalized Note Cards
  • Envelopes
  • Personal Laminator
  • Laminating Pouches
  • Birthday Treats
  • Prize Jar Trinkets
  • Lost Tooth Bags
  • Homework Certificates
  • Missing Work Slips
  • Sentence Strips
  • Chart Paper
  • Personal Calendar
  • Meetings Notebook
  • Plan Book
  • Timer
  • Rubber Stamps
  • Ink Pads
  • E-Z Grader
  • Books for Class Library
  • Name Tags
  • Thank You Notes

These items are essential to ensure that your classroom is running smoothly, and they can also encourage your students to work harder.

By investing in treats to reward your students, they will learn that the harder they try, the more likely they will be rewarded.

Some items are also essential to ensure that you won’t worry when you have staff meetings. 

Classroom Essentials

Every classroom also needs general essentials to keep up and running. You want to have supplies for both you and your students to use.

These supplies will ensure that you have everything you need for students to write or draw on or keep their classwork and homework organized once you’ve marked them.

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Markers
  • Highlighters
  • Chalk
  • Liquid Chalk
  • Flair Pens
  • Loose Leaf Paper
  • Drawing Paper
  • Copy Paper
  • Electric Pencil Sharpener
  • Binder Clips
  • Paper Clips
  • 3 Hole Punch
  • Handheld Hole Punch
  • Index Cards
  • Scissors
  • Guillotine Paper Cutter
  • Paper Trimmer
  • Sticky Notes
  • Rubber Bands
  • Envelopes
  • Correction Fluid

These supplies are perfect for when you need your students to organize their work for their folders. They’re also handy to keep in the classroom in case your students forget any of their supplies on the day. 

Classroom Decor

You want to teach your students in a nourishing environment, and the best way to do that is by decorating your classroom in a welcoming way.

You can also create comfortable areas for your students to relax when they finish their work early.

Likewise, it’s essential that your students have specific areas to put their personal items in so they know they’re in a safe place.

  • Name Plates for Students’ Desks
  • Name Tags for Students’ Lockers
  • Pillows
  • Corner Rounder
  • Area Rugs
  • Bulletin Board Trim
  • Contact Paper
  • Die Cut Letters
  • Pocket Charts
  • Fadeless Paper/Fabric for Your Bulletin Boards
  • Pinking Shears

If your students can put their supplies in a safe space, you’ll find that they’re more excited about coming to school.

Ensuring that your students will have environments to relax when they’re feeling overwhelmed can also increase their productivity.

Consider how your classroom can make your students feel more welcome at school.

Every Must-Have Classroom Items All Teachers Need (1)

Item Organization

We recommend investing in storage space to keep your students’ work or hand in homework assignments.

These are also the best options when you need to keep your students’ items all in the same place.

You can also ensure that your work materials and worksheets are in an area where students will know where to look when they need them. 

  • Homework/Classwork Collection Bins
  • Buckets/Bins for Library
  • Plastic Caddies for Community Supplies
  • Plastic Drawers
  • Hanging Crates
  • Zip-Top Bags (Snack/Sandwich/Gallon-Sized Bags)
  • Labels
  • File Folders
  • Hanging File Folders
  • 3 Prong Folders
  • Binders
  • Page Protectors
  • Dividers with Tabs
  • Adhesive Tabs

Organizing your items before the semester begins is a great way to ensure that you know where to find each item.

You can acquaint yourself with the layout and ensure that your students always know where to look to find a specific item. 

Math Supplies

Not all of your students will enjoy math, while others may love it.

So, if you want to make your math lessons easier to understand or make them more fun for all students, we recommend investing in a few items.

These are a few essential items that you will need to make math exciting.

  • Rulers
  • Counting Items
  • Place Value Blocks
  • Pattern Blocks
  • Linking Cubes
  • Plastic Links
  • Coins
  • Clocks
  • Balance Scales
  • Hundred Charts
  • Playing Cards
  • Color Tiles
  • Two Color Counters
  • Dominoes
  • Abacus
  • Cuisenaire Rods
  • Dry Erase Boards
  • Value Charts
  • Flash Cards
  • Geometric Solids

You can make math more interactive with these items, and you can offer resources for students who may struggle with numbers.

So, you should keep these resources on hand to ensure that you can make your lessons engaging for them all. 

Art Supplies

We recommend you buy art supplies not only for art classes, but some of these are also great for other lessons too.

Focus on buying a variety of supplies, and consider letting your students use some of these for science and other subjects. 

  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Oil Pastels
  • Construction Paper
  • Card Stock
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Egg Cartons
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Yarn
  • Googly Eyes
  • Tissue Paper
  • Clay
  • Feathers
  • Glitters
  • Styrofoam Trays
  • Magazines for Cutting Up

These items are perfect for keeping in your classroom when you need them. Not only are these supplies helpful to keep on hand, but they’re also versatile, and your students can use them for other activities.

Extra paper is also helpful to keep on hand if you have an indoor recess and your students would prefer to do artwork instead.


You may be wondering why adhesives have a specific section, and the truth is that teachers need adhesives for everything.

Not only should you have some on hand for crafts projects with your students, but you’ll need them to decorate your classroom. 

  • Tape
  • 2 Sided Tape
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Velcro Tape
  • Packing Tape
  • Electrical Tape
  • Washi Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Staples
  • Stapler
  • Staple Remover
  • Adhesive/Mounting Putty
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks
  • Mounting Squares 
  • Command Hooks
  • Push Pins

Always keep different types of adhesives on hand because you’re never sure when you’re going to need them.

Of course, you won’t need all of these adhesives, but having a list can help you determine what would be best for you and your students. 

Items For Recess

Recess is the perfect time to let your students release their pent-up energy from sitting down and concentrating for so long.

However, not every recess will be the same, and you need different items depending on the weather.

Indoor and outdoor recesses have different needs, and you should ensure you have the right products available to ensure your students can do what they want.

  • Games
  • Puzzles 
  • Coloring Books
  • Drawing Books
  • Beads and String
  • I-Spy Books
  • Legos
  • Building Toys
  • Arts and Crafts Supplies
  • Books
  • Balls
  • Jump Ropes
  • Hula Hoops
  • Whistles
  • Sidewalk Chalk

These are only a few examples of what you’ll need when your students are working in the classroom.

There are many different games and puzzles you can find for your students, and you could also use this time to encourage them to be creative and work on something fun.

Many students find different activities fun, so consider each of your students when you’re coming up with a plan for recess.

Every Must Have Classroom Items All Teachers Need

Cleaning Supplies

While your school will have its own cleaners, you will need cleaning supplies. After all, students can be messy, and anything can go wrong.

We recommend investing in some basic cleaning supplies and encouraging you and your students to clean up when they’ve finished working. 

  • Paper Towels
  • All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
  • Rags
  • Sponges
  • Bucket
  • Baby Wipes
  • Chalkboard and Whiteboard Cleaner Spray
  • Contractor Bags
  • Donation Boxes

You can make cleaning fun for you and your students by including it at the end of certain lessons.

Another way to make it more enjoyable is by using different cleaning products, such as shaving cream, for cleaning desks. The foam can be a great way to encourage your students to get involved. 

Basic Supplies For Health

Many teachers have a member of staff who is certified in first aid, but it never hurts to keep supplies available for when you need them.

A first aid kit and other hygiene products are essential to ensure that your students remain healthy.

Other items are generally helpful to have when your students may be coming down with a cold or showing minor symptoms. 

  • Tissues
  • Antibacterial Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Antibacterial Wipes 
  • Lysol Spray
  • Bandaids
  • Ice Packs

Having these items will ensure you prepare yourself if your students find themselves injured in some way.

We recommend always keeping track of the items you need and also encourage students not to come in if they’re feeling sick.

However, if, for any reason, your students are showing minor symptoms, it can be a good way to keep some control of any seasonal illnesses.

Personal Items

Your classroom is also your space, and you may also want to have your own items in the staff room.

You will be spending the majority of your time in your classroom, so we recommend bringing in some items from your home to ensure you feel comfortable.

  • Coffee Mug
  • Lunch
  • Bottled Water
  • Snacks
  • Dorm-Sized Fridge
  • Family Photos
  • Flowers
  • Painkillers
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair Ties
  • Cough Drops
  • Spare Change of Clothes

Not all items are essential when you’re working, but it’s always helpful to keep a supply on hand.

If you have a busy day, you might not always be able to escape the classroom to have lunch, so you should ensure that you have a way to keep your lunch fresh. 

How To Save Money When Shopping For Your Classroom

Now that we’ve offered you a selection of items you will need for your classroom, we should give you a few tips on how you can save money.

If you’re new to teaching, you may feel overwhelmed while you’re looking at this list. If so, we’ve got a few tips to help you be economical with your purchases.

Plan Your List

Before you get caught up in your shopping, you should ensure you make a list of what you need first. You don’t need all the items on our list, and you should find items that fit your lessons and budget.

Consider your items by what you need first, then plan an inventory for your other sections.

If you were teaching last year, consider what supplies you need to stock up on and what you can recycle and reuse. Once you know what you need, make your list and plan your budget.

Don’t Buy Everything At Once

When you’re shopping for classroom supplies, we recommend searching for items that you know you will need for your classroom.

When you make your list, consider checking when the sales are for each item you know you need. You can cross each item out as you purchase each one.

We recommend also checking out online stores to find which deals will offer you the best price.

Use Shopping Apps

We mentioned how you should look online for items too, and you can always use shopping apps to find price comparisons.

Some shops like Walmart will use apps to compare their prices with your competitors and pay you back the difference.

Many apps target their competitors’ prices to ensure that their customers remain interested in their products.

However, this won’t work if you’re looking for a specific item that you can only buy in that store. Generally, we recommend shopping apps to save you time while you’re shopping.

Plan Ahead

You know that every year you need to buy new classroom supplies for your new year of students. So, you should plan ahead and buy items you know you’re going to need.

If you’re buying a composition notebook for your own writing, consider getting more while you’re already out.

You know that you’re going to need them, so feel free to invest in them, so they’re ready before the summer rush begins.

Every Must Have Classroom Items All Teachers Need (1)

Always Keep Track Of Inventory

We recommend always keeping track of your inventory of supplies. Not only do you need these for tax purposes, but they’re also perfect for when you need to buy next year’s products.

You can keep track of inventory by keeping your receipts in a folder and stapling them together, so you know when you need to purchase more. 

Don’t Impulsively Buy Something

While we recommend purchasing items when you’re already purchasing them for yourself, we don’t recommend impulsively buying something.

You need to set up your budget first, and impulsive purchasing of your supplies will endanger your budget.

Keep your money in an envelope so you know what you can spend. If you don’t need to go shopping, stay out of the stores, or they may tempt you to buy something for your classroom that isn’t necessary. 

Talk To Your Colleagues

If you get along well with your other teachers, we recommend working with them to buy your supplies in bulk.

Buying in bulk can save you and your colleagues money, and it’s always a great way to communicate with your fellow teachers and get advice.

After all, not all teachers will buy supplies from the same place, and they may know something you don’t.

Talk To An Accountant

Another factor to consider is to see if you know an accountant who can help you figure out what you can use as tax deductions.

You should see if your state also offers a tax-free shopping weekend in August, and if they do, consider getting your supplies then.

Your accountant will be able to help you find where you can save money and how. 

How To Organize Your Classroom Supplies

When you start the new school year, you need to consider the different supplies that your students have also bought into class.

Depending on if you choose community supplies or individual supplies, you may need to determine how best to organize them.

However, we’ll discuss which one is your best option to ensure your students look after them. 

Individual VS Community Supplies

You’ve no doubt noticed that we recommend using individual supplies instead of community supplies.

While community supplies are a great way to teach your students how to share with one another and look after their things, it doesn’t necessarily go according to plan.

Students are naturally more inclined to look after their own supplies than community supplies.

Students tend to treat community supplies worse than individual supplies, as students don’t see how much they cost.

However, because they know that they can’t always replace their supplies, they’re more likely to take care of them. 

Label Everything

Not every teacher labels their students’ supplies. However, this eliminates the issue of which student owns what and can help stop arguments before they happen.

The best way to do this is by collecting your students’ items in paper bags at the beginning of the semester. Keep an eye on which student owns what, and put their name on everything. 

When we suggest labeling everything, we suggest you label all of their markers, pencils, and other arts and crafts supplies. Don’t forget to label the caps too.

While you might not think it’s necessary, many students will argue over caps too. Instead of only focusing on the items they use, remember that they will appreciate the efficiency of your classroom. 

Store Away Extra Supplies

If you’ve got any extra supplies, consider putting these in a cupboard, so you know where they are.

Not all students will remember their items every day, and items can get lost. Having extra supplies in the cupboard will ensure that all students have the equipment they need at the end of the day.

The Best Way To Collect Student Supplies

When you need to collect your student’s supplies, it can feel like a challenge. After all, you don’t want to mix everything together.

To avoid complicating everything, we recommend collecting brown paper bags from the grocery store and putting them on each student’s desk.

Leave a note on it to tell them to place their items from the supplies checklist into the bag. 

Instruct all your students to put their supplies in the bag. Once you collect them, wait for the kids to go home and start organizing their supplies so they can find them in their lockers or caddies.

If you’re labeling them, remember to label each item. If you can, consider bringing a volunteer in to help you organize each of the supplies. 

If you’re using community supplies, you just need to place your items in the right place so that your students will know where to find them.

Once you’ve completed the task, store these brown paper bags away in a cupboard, as you never know when they’ll next come in handy.

Final Thoughts

It can feel overwhelming when you’re organizing not only your students’ supplies but your own too.

It’s essential that you know what you need and when to buy your items. With the help of this list, we hope you won’t have any trouble organizing what items you need.

If you were struggling to decide between community supplies or individual ones, we hope you were able to find this guide helpful to you.

If you need any more teaching inspiration, feel free to check out our other articles to help you get the best classroom experience. 

Simon Lewis

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