Back to School Must Haves

The back-to-school season is full of so many feel-good moments! In this post, I share my favorite back to school must haves for my classroom.

As soon as my eyes popped open, I jumped out of bed and grabbed my phone. 

I could feel the excitement as I hurried to unlock my phone and check my email. 

I scrolled through all the junk mail. 

When I found the email I was looking for, I clicked the link. 

As the page loaded, I think of all the possibilities.

When the webpage appeared, I scanned the page and began making my list.

My Favorite Part of Back of School Time

I know I’m being really vulnerable here and some of you may stop reading this post after I say this, but my favorite part of back to school time is the newness of everything, especially all the fresh-looking school supplies. 

We all know how ratty and worn school supplies look at the end of the school year– 

Marker caps are missing.

The colored pencils are all different sizes from being sharpened.

The glue is crusty and there’s dried glue on the caps.

And, the supply buckets have been drawn on and need a good scrubbing.

You get the picture!

[Insert Supply List here; Alt text: This is a list of my favorite back to school must haves.]

My Back to School Must Haves for Math

As I scour the back-to-school ads and search my favorite online stores for new classroom resources, here’s a list of the things I just can’t pass up. 

1. Colored Cardstock

I love colored paper and use it for everything! Mostly, I like to use colored cardstock to make copies of my games and other activities for math stations. For example, to help my students get started working right away, I use game templates to create games that students recognize and can start playing quickly. Copying them on colored cardstock gives them a little extra pizzazz!

2. Dry Erase Pockets

These dry erase pockets make saving paper easy! I started using these for our problem of the day task when I needed students to analyze a word problem using our word problem analysis process. I could make one set of copies of the weekly problem situation and students could analyze the problem for the essential information to solve the problem and then erase it so it was ready for the next day. Such a time saver!

3. Dry Erase Markers

I’ll admit I’m a dry erase marker snob. I only use Expo markers because over the years I have found them to last the longest and have the best quality ink. Yes, they are a bit more expensive, but when I find them on sale, I buy tons of them and then teach students how to use them properly. 

4. Plastic Baskets

I use baskets for everything! Here are a few of the ways I use baskets in the classroom: 

  • File Crates: I use file crates to store math journals and math notebooks at the front of the classroom.
  • Dish Pans: I use dish pan-style baskets to store dry erase materials for each table group, so they do not take up room on the students’ desks but accessible when needed. 
  • Classroom Caddies: I use classroom caddies to store student supplies for each table group. I typically include regular-tip markers, glue sticks, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, and scissors. 
  • Storage Bins: I use small plastic storage bins to collect trash especially when we complete interactive notebook or math journal activities where students have to use scissors and glue. 
  • Plastic Shoe Boxes: I use shoe boxes to store math manipulatives. They stack nicely and can be labeled easily. 

Read more about how I use baskets and bins to organize math stations here.

5. Stickers

I’ve been a sticker collector since the days of Lisa Frank! Remember her? That love of stickers continued into the classroom as I collected stickers to use on my students’ graded papers. Both the Dollar Tree and Target’s Dollar Spot have a great collection of stickers to choose from. 

My Favorite Sunday Routine

After I checked the sales ads for what school supplies were on sale each week, I made a beeline to Staples and Target to grab as much as I could. From spiral notebooks and composition notebooks to folders to markers, crayons, and colored pencils, I drove around the city filling my basket with the stated quota. I even ran into a couple of my teacher friends doing the same thing. 😁

Grab one of my favorite back-to-school activities, Me in Numbers, using the form below. 

Sound Off!

What are your favorite supplies to pick up during the back-to-school season? Respond in the comments below. 


Mock-ups courtesy of Coffee Beans and Children’s Dreams.

Shametria Routt Banks

Shametria Routt Banks

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