First-year teacher must-haves are the #1 things new teachers ask about. That’s kind of a loaded answer because it always brings up questions…like what grade are you teaching? What does your school give you? What will your students bring? Often times we don’t know all those answers, especially if we’re brand new or new to a school or grade level.
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I would highly suggest keeping it simple in your first years and adding to your classroom each year. Many of the bookshelves, rugs, drawer systems, and even decorations are expensive…so build it over time. What my classroom looks like now is significantly different than what my classroom looked like in my first years. Each year my classroom gets better because I add to it.
You also need to keep in mind that your school/district may not allow for pillows, rugs, flexible seating due to fire restrictions, so you may want to wait on those purchases anyway.
Teacher Must-Have Supplies
Your school will often supply office materials such as staples, paperclips, etc. so check with them before purchasing. Same with student supplies…wait and see what they’ll be bringing. Of course, you’ll want to buy your favorites like Ink Joy or Flair pens. Are you team Ink Joy or Flair pen? I’ve been team Flair pen for many years and while I still love my Flair pens, I’m now a huge fan of the Ink Joy gel pens! Either way…I would wait for those back-to-school sales.
Your school may provide chart paper, but I would highly suggest the Sharpie brand chart paper markers. They are the only markers I’ve found that do not bleed through the paper. I also like to use these magnetic hooks because they are very strong and hold up the chart paper without slowly sliding down the whiteboard. I have another post here about some of my favorite teacher must-have items.
You should 100% invest in books for your classroom library. In fact, I have a whole post about the best place to get books for cheap and how to organize your library. I even have a post on how silent reading works in my classroom.
Organization Bin Must-Haves
My favorite kind of bins are drawers, especially the ones with wheels, but I have quite a few that sit on a shelf! Baskets, tubs, bins of any kind are worth purchasing. Check out this post and this post all about how I organize my classroom.
Dry Sleeve Pockets
Dry erase sleeves are much cheaper than dry eraser boards and you can just put a blank piece of paper inside. Plus you can also put worksheets for students to use for a center or something. I also like to have my students use the skinny dry erase markers, especially when working on a worksheet. These face wash scrubbers make perfect erasers and you can easily throw them in the wash at the end of each year!
How to Get the Best Deals
The best places to shop that give you the most bang for your buck are The Dollar Tree, Big Lots, and Walmart. If you have a Five Below near you, that’s also a good place. FB Marketplace, Yard Sales, and Goodwill are also great places to get furniture and books.
Donors Choose is a great way to get items for your classroom. You can read how to get the most out of your project here.
Classroom Amazon Wishlists are also a big hit these days. I would suggest setting one up and sharing it with friends and families but also sharing it on Twitter or Instagram! You just never know! I also share my Wishlist with parents when they ask at the beginning of the year.
Slow and Steady
It is really easy to get carried away and spend a lot of money in your classroom. Especially when you hit places like the Target Dollar Section. A rule of thumb I use when buying stuff for my classroom…I ask myself, “Do you know what you’ll use this for?” If yes, then I’ll buy it but if I don’t and I’m just wanting it because it’s cute or everybody else bought it…I’ll put it back.
I hope that gave you a few ideas of what you should get for your classroom and what can maybe wait. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint…so build your classroom slowly.