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As school starts, teachers purchase a lot of things for their classrooms. Some stock up on pencils, pens, crayons, and composition books. Some redecorate their classrooms.
I tried to spend a minimal amount of money. I think it is good practice to save as much money as possible in the classroom. Ten dollars here and five there adds up very quickly, especially after 30 years of teaching– which is how long you will be teaching if you plan on getting your retirement (at least in Georgia).
My rule is: Do not buy consumable things.
I don’t buy pencils. I don’t buy crayons. Because the kids destroy them, and they are gone quickly.
I may one day have different views. But as a new teacher (not getting paid for like two months after I start working), I was not willing to buy anything that would only last one class period.
I bought normal office things that I would have bought no matter where I was working: pencil cups, binders, magazine racks, etc.
I also stumbled across the. Best. Purchase. Ever.
A metal rolling cart.
That may not sound very exciting, but trust me, it is the bomb!
You may not have this problem, but I am THE WORST about setting things down and forgetting where I put them. Pencils, seating charts, books with the song we are singing this week, my tambourine… I pick them up, I put them down, and I cannot find them anywhere.
All of the time.
In comes my new rolling cart. It holds everything that I use on a normal day—and it moves! So if I need to stand in the back of the classroom while we watch a video, I can. I can put it in the front while I am talking. I can move it out-of-the-way when we are dancing.
Also: My First Experience with Donor’s Choose
This purchase has literally changed my life.
I do not lose things. When a student needs to go to the nurse, the pass and a pen are on my cart. When I need to double-check a student’s name on the clipboard, it is on my cart. When I need to jingle my tambourine to get the kids’ attention, it is on my cart (and yes, I do that). When I need my animal manipulatives for a fun form lesson, they are on the cart, or popsicle sticks to teach little kids about rhythm. (Check out my Animal Form lesson here and my Popsicle Rhythm lesson here.)
I probably sound ridiculous, but it has really changed my life. I am so much more organized. I do not lose time trying to find things that I set down on the table or on my desk or on the piano or on the… floor?
Granted, you could just use a table. But a rolling cart can move all around the classroom, and that makes life so much easier!
The cart really saved my life during the weeks that I was travelling to classrooms. There was a water leakage situation that resulted in me being spontaneously out of my classroom for a month. The first day, I was able to throw my crayons, paper, tambourines, CD player, and bingo game onto the rolling cart and roll it all around the school. Everything stayed together, I didn’t have a million bags to carry, and when I got to the classrooms, my stuff stayed together. I really do not know what I would have done for the month (!) without my rolling cart.
You can learn about the lesson I taught while traveling here.
So what do I keep on my cart?
It is not always the same. But here are the basic things:
I try to keep this clutter free as possibly (if you had seen it before I picked up the 20 pencils and 10 confiscated toys, you would be laughing at that comment). The most important thing? Seating chart! I use a clipboard with storage underneath for extra information that is pertinent (mostly for subs). I keep seating charts in a binder like this, and clip the ones for the day onto the clipboard.
Other items include:
- Gotcha tickets (our school’s PBIS system)
- Sticky notes for notes on clipboard or other teachers
- Notepad which I sometimes write my lesson plans on
- Anything I need for a day (usually Game Plan or this book) This week it is a yellow plastic thing we are using as a button for the game Button You Must Wander.
- Tambourine (used for getting students’ attention)
- Nurse pass and hall pass
- Owl Beanie Baby
- Weird light-up rubber thing I toss to students when they answer questions
- Pail with pencils, pens, markers, remote, etc.
- Owl stickers for classes that need a little bit extra reinforcing
- Rhythm cards, which I use very often
Still not convinced about the best classroom purchase ever?
Get it, and I promise it will become your favorite classroom purchase as well– unless you enjoy losing things.
Here it is in teal:
And in grey like mine:
What is your favorite classroom purchase? Let me know in the comments!