July 26, 2020

5 Unusual Must-Have Items in Your Classroom

After teaching for the past 14 years, I have gotten pretty attune to what items I need in the classroom and others that I don't need. For the most part, there are normal, everyday items that are necessary.

Normal items include scissors, glue sticks, glue bottles, crayons, etc. Some not so normal items may include flair pens (although they are a must for me) and teacher toolboxes (also normal for me). If you are interested in the blog post 7 School Supplies You Must Have!, click HERE!

Sometimes, though, I need unusual items that may not be used everyday but are a lifesaver when I do use them. These unusual items have popped up when I least expect them! In short, these are 5 Unusual Must-Have Items in Your Classroom.

Confessions of a Frazzled Teacher

Disclaimer: Please note that there are affiliate links for some items. Clicking on them will cost you nothing but may earn a small commission for me and make me very appreciative!

5 - Step Stool

My third graders vary greatly in height. I have students that are shorter than Kindergartners (yes...really) to those almost as tall as me. When they set up our Promethean boards, they didn't take into account the little ones. It was tough for my shorter students to complete any activity on the board. To combat this, I got a little step stool. This stool folds up out of the way when not in use and is extremely durable! It's helped my students find an even playing ground.

This has also been useful for me at times when I need a slight boost to reach something out of the way. It's amazing how much time this gets used throughout my classroom. I'm almost tempted to get another one...

4 - Pants Hangers

While I am not a huge fan of official anchor charts, I do like to make a chart every so often. I like the flexibility of moving them around the room. To make this easier to change up (and store), I place the charts on pants hangers. It's also nice to flip the charts around and have a front and back side. 

I have a little cabinet that I store completed anchor charts and poster paper, all on these pants hangers. 

Side note...To move them easily around the classroom, use command hooks! They hang up quickly and are extremely sturdy. I keep them up any place I may eventually want to place an anchor chart.

3 - Label Maker

I am OBSESSED with label makers! I have one for home and one for school. It's amazing how many times I need a label maker during the school year. At the beginning of the year, I label folders with student names to store documentation, label my Guided Reading/Math binders, and label student mailboxes. 

Whenever I get a new student, I need the label maker to update everything. I also find myself labeling random things (like my task card boxes) because I like the look of the labels!

Technically, for me, this may not be an unusual item for as much as I talk about them and use them. Even if it is not, a label maker is essential!

2 - Umbrella 

You might think you do not need an umbrella in your classroom, because you have one in your purse or you always bring one when it rains. I would also turn down the idea of having an umbrella because I wouldn't care if I got a little wet. 

Then we encountered a season that felt like monsoon season and my opinion changed big time! I now keep an at school umbrella in my classroom for the end of school day showers in which I would have to be outside of door duty. It has come in so handy on days that started off beautiful only to be rainy during dismissal.

I especially recommend the umbrellas pictured because they open the opposite way than you are used to. This keeps them from making a huge mess. When I finish using it, I stick the umbrella in the sink to dry.

1 - Sewing Kit

This is probably the most unique item! This kit has come in handy more times than I can count. I have used it to mend rips and tears on my students' clothing and book bags as well as for "surgery" of our well loved classroom stuffed animals. I am definitely not a seamstress but I know that my students have been appreciative of my work.

This has also turned into a fun side project. Some students were so fascinated by my sewing skills (or lack thereof) that they wanted to learn themselves. This makes for a fun indoor recess or end of the year activity. 

What are some unusual must-have items for your classroom?

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Every classroom needs basic supplies like glue, scissors, and crayons. What about the unusual supplies? This blog post shares 5 Must-Have items in your classroom! These supplies are not your normal everyday use supplies but you will be grateful to have them! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #schoolsupplies {Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders}

July 21, 2020

7 School Supplies You Must Have!

7 Must Have Back to School Supplies

Throughout my years of teaching, it feels like I have bought out entire stores! Some items were worth it while others have been duds. Luckily, I have also been lucky enough to be given items from generous people to supplement my classroom needs. During this time, I have come to rely on some items that I cannot live without! 

*Disclaimer - This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them will not cost you any money but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase.

7 - Toolkit

This may seem like something that is frivolous and not necessary, but let me explain! My toolkit comes in handy for day to day tasks like using pliers to pull a too short pencil from the pencil sharpener, using a screwdriver to fix a loose screw on a student's desk, measuring anything with the tape measure (or using in a math lesson), or creating even bulletin boards with the level.

My toolkit has also come in handy in an emergency! At the end of the school day a couple of years ago, a teacher was returning to her classroom to find the lock stuck. Since it was the end of the day, our regular maintenance guy was gone for the day. Instead, there were two cleaning ladies, our dean, and our principal all trying to open the door without success because they couldn't find the right tools. My trusty toolkit saved the day, opening the door to let everyone get their supplies to go home! 

I've now had my toolkit for about 5 years! I can't go back to not having it around! It's a must have!

6 - Pencil Sharpener

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to pencil sharpeners. The one pictured above is the ONLY one I use (and I use it for colored pencils too)! I have one for home and school. When the school one finally dies, I bring my rarely used one from home and get myself a new at home sharpener. I find that I only have to get a new sharpener every 1 and a 1/2 to 2 years. 

I know that some teachers do not let students use their pencil sharpeners. I don't have the time or energy to sharpen my students' pencils. Instead, I teach my students how to properly use this sharpener. When a pencil is sharpened, the sharpener makes a quieter sound. We all listen for this sound and then I have my students practice using it correctly. It's actually very rare to have issues with this sharpener (at least in my opinion).

5 - Rocketbook

This may seem like a strange thing to include but trust me on this one. A Rocketbook is a reusable notebook. You can write down any notes you want and then erase it when you are finished. Plus you can use the app to send anything you write to the location of your choice - email, Google Drive, etc.

Here's why I recommend this as a must have for school... Instead of writing down all your to-do's on post-it notes, keep them in here. This way you won't lose them. Also, when you go to a PD's or staff meetings, use this notebook for any information you need to remember. This is how I use my Rocketbook!

4 - Sharpie Markers

If you make anchor charts with your kiddos, you need a great marker (set of markers)! I know many people like Mr. Sketch. I am a fan of them because of the scent when using them. My problem with them is that the marker fades after a short period of time.

These Sharpie markers make creating anchor charts a breeze. The markers color sections smoothly and they don't fade! Ultimately, I have to be practical when choosing my markers. (Although I may throw in a set of Mr. Sketch when I want smelly anchor charts.)

3 - Fun Pens

Pens are another item that may seem frivolous. Think about how much time you are going to spend grading papers. That is a thankless, tedious job! Having a favorite pen to use for grading helps to make this a little more palatable. 

Since my favorite color is purple, I ONLY use purple pens when grading. I have also jumped on the flair pen bandwagon. I find that flair pens tend to be smoother when writing. They are also nice and dark when I use my ELMO (it shows any paper and writing in real time). Other pens tend to fade and not get seen on the board.

2 - BLUE Sticky Tack

Sticky Tack is used in lieu of tape to stick posters to the wall. Notice, I said that the Sticky Tack has to be blue (the other colors do not work as well). I have found that this sticky tack is the only thing that will really hold my posters up all school year. You use small amounts, roll it in a ball, and stick it all over the back of a poster. You may need to use a lot to keep it up, but once you invest in this, it will last for years. 

At the end of the school year, when removing posters, collect all the sticky tack and keep it in a sealed container. You can reuse this the following year. You may need to roll around the sticky tack in order for it to be tacky again. It really lasts!

1 - The Perfect Bag

For years, I have searched for the perfect teacher bag. I finally found it with this one right here (although mine is purple). This bag has a cushion inside perfect for protecting your laptop. There are two main zippered compartments (one for a laptop and one for papers and pens). 

The part I like best though, and the reason I bought it, is the versatility of the bag. You can use it like a briefcase, shoulder bag, or backpack. I've had mine for one school year already and it still looks like new.

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What are your Must Have Back to School Supplies?

If you liked this post, you may also like these...

Every classroom needs basic supplies like glue, pencils, and crayons. What about other necessary supplies? This blog post shares 7 Must-Have items in your classroom! These supplies are designed to make your teacher life run more smoothly! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #schoolsupplies {Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Educators}

July 14, 2020

16 Back to School Read Alouds

16 Read Aloud Books Perfect for Back to School

My original plan was to create a list of 10 Books Perfect for Back to School! As I began to compile this list, it started to grow and grow! Before I knew it, I was at 16 books! What can I say? I'm OBSESSED with books and reading. So here it goes (in no particular order)...16 Books Perfect for Back to School!

* Please note: This post contains affiliate links for the books. Using them will not cost you anything but may earn me a small fee for recommending them to you!

1. First Day Jitters

I know that this book is on a lot of Back to School lists! Luckily, no one reads this one in K-2 in my district. I ALWAYS read this book the first day of school. 

Watching my students as I read this book, especially the last page (there's a HUGE plot twist that only certain students will understand), lets me have a really informal way of assessing my students' comprehension skills. It's surprisingly accurate as too which students are going to need extra help during the school year!

2. Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

I have a bunch of Miss Malarkey books in my classroom library! I feel like Ms. Malarkey is a kindred spirit. 

I LOVE how this teacher makes sure to find a book that encourages all of her students to get interested in reading. I let my students know that I am like Miss Malarkey. I love reading so much and want my students to develop that same love. We will find a book that they will love! This makes for a great introduction to your classroom library and the different authors, genres, series, etc.

3. If You Take a Mouse to School

This is a simplistic book but works well as an easy introduction for problem/solution or cause/effect. This book is full of both skills! For every solution that is created, a new problem occurs. Likewise, for every new cause, there is an effect. Using literature to teach skills makes understanding those skills easier for students.

4. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books!

This is another simplistic book to use in your classroom. This time, focus on sequencing. The old lady swallows items in a particular order. There is a lot of repetition in this story to reinforce the sequence of events.

If your students enjoy this book, they have a lot more of them to love! There is one written for every holiday, season, and just because reason you can think of! This books are great to use for comparing and contrasting.

5. Too Much Glue

Have you noticed that your students struggle with gluing? I think this skill has gotten worse over the years since fine motor skills are no longer stressed. I use this book as a humorous way to introduce how I want them to glue. I actually take the time to practice this skill with my students after reading this book.

6. The Juice Box Bully

I love how this book is not a traditional book about bullies. Instead, the students in this book stand up to the bully and show students how they can too. It teaches students that there is a zero tolerance policy on bullying when everyone gets involved!

I appreciate that students are taught how to stand up for themselves and each other.

7. Mouth is a Volcano!

During the beginning of the school year, students tend to forget that they shouldn't shout out whenever they feel like it. This book gives a great visual on how students may feel like shouting out but need help with self-control. Some students may need to read this book multiple times!

8. The Recess Queen

The Recess Queen is another book involving a bully. This one has a different approach to deal with the bully. In this book, a new kid stands up to the bully by becoming a friend. 

I appreciate books that inspire students to stand up to bullies in a friendly, straight-forward manner.

9. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

I tend to read a lot of books in this series. I love the concept of filling a bucket by using kind words. I have a little bucket that I keep by our Morning Meeting area as a reminder during the year. This book helps my students develop a common language to use when talking about how words make us feel.

10. Do Unto Otters

This a cute book to help your students review manners. The focus is on the Golden Rule. Love the cuteness of this one! The ply on words is a fun feature too!

11. What if Everybody Did That?

I normally read this one in April for Earth Day, but it's a great one at the beginning of the school year too! It's a book full of questions for the students to ponder. Just because everyone else does something, doesn't mean they should do it too!

12. The Book With No Pictures

This book works well as a model to teach students how to read fluently. Normally students are focused on the pictures. Since there are no pictures, students can really focus on the words. It also helps that this is a hilarious one! My students always crack up when reading it!

13. Third Grade Angels

I try to read a chapter book within the first couple of weeks of school. Since I teach third grade, this is a perfect one. I just like this story. It's a nice one of encouraging students to be kind to each other. 

Please note, there is a sequel to this book called Fourth Grade Rats. I must say that I do NOT like this one at all. I was disappointed in it. I would suggest you take the time to read it first before reading it to your students.

14. Fish in a Tree

I cannot express how much I LOVE this book! This story is about a sixth grade girl that really struggles with reading. During the story, she learns she has dyslexia. I feel like it has such a positive message about working hard and accepting yourself. 

The only warning I have with this book is that it is a longer one. Depending on your group of students, you may want to wait until the attention span is a bit longer.

15. Wonder

This is another book that raises a LOT of great conversations with students. If you are unfamiliar with this story, it focuses on a little boy born with facial abnormalities. After being home schooled his whole life, he finally begins school. This brings so many issues for him and his family. 

This is another longer book, so if your students do not have a strong attention span, I would wait for this one!

16. Any Magic Treehouse Book


I love the Magic Treehouse series! When I read one of these books at the start of the school year, it's actually the fourth book in the series, Pirates Past Noon. I have a pirate themed classroom, so this book is perfect. Magic Treehouse books are fun ones for early chapter book readers. Any book in this series would help encourage even your most reluctant readers!

What do you like to read with your students for Back to School?

Finding the perfect story to read aloud to your students at the beginning of the school year can be difficult. This blog post shares 16 books (both picture and chapter) to encourage students to become interested in reading. The recommendations also help teachers use trade literature to teach comprehension skills like sequencing and problem/solution as well as social/emotional skills. #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #backtoschool {Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third Graders}