11 essential teacher Must-Haves in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms

11 Teacher Must-Haves for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Must have supplies, resources, and more for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers and their upper elementary classrooms.

Whether you are a first year teacher or a veteran, there are some things that every 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom needs. Below are what I considered the 11 teacher must-haves in my upper elementary classroom. Without them, I would have had a difficult time surviving the school year!

This isn't really a list of must have classroom supplies. Instead, it's a list of all sorts of things 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers need to survive the year.

Sometimes I recommend products using affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I may be compensated at no cost to you.

Must Haves for First Year Teachers & Veteran Teachers Alike

1. No Prep Morning Work

Mornings can be chaotic. In order to complete all the morning tasks necessary (taking attendance, greeting students, answering questions, talking to parents, etc.), students need morning work they can complete independently and is also engaging.

It is impractical to spend a lot of your time planning and prepping morning work, however. Finding a morning work system that works for you and that you never have to worry about will save you a lot of time and stress.

This will look different in every classroom, but one of these 14 morning work ideas is bound to work for you and your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classroom.  

Or, if you are a 3rd grade teacher, then these two weeks of free math morning work might be a good option to start the year off with.

2. Free Emergency Sub Plans

Nothing creates more stress for a teacher than having an emergency pop up - and then having to create sub plans so that you can deal with that emergency!

Eliminate some of the stress with these free sub plans - they can be used over and over again with any book.  Print multiple sets of copies of ahead of time, grab a few picture books, and you'll be prepared for almost anything.

Once you have your sub plans ready to go, check out these tips for making preparing for a sub easier. 

3. Pencil Sharpening Procedures and a Quality Pencil Sharpener

Pencils are a necessary evil in any elementary classroom. It took several years before I finally figured out pencil sharpening procedures that worked for me. Before that, my lessons were interrupted several times a day because students were constantly running out of sharpened pencils.

X-ACTO Electric Pencil Sharpener
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Part of the problem was the cheap pencil sharpeners I used. In a quest to spend my limited funds on more important things (like books for my classroom library), I didn't buy a good pencil sharpener for quite a while. When my students used the crank pencil sharpener the school provided, their lead broke very easily. When I bought cheap pencil sharpeners, I was having to replace them all the time.

When I finally bought this pencil sharpener built for more heavy duty use and revised my pencil sharpener procedures, the interruptions caused by broken pencils decreased substantially.

4. No Prep Resources

It's inevitable. At some point, probably within the first couple weeks of school, you are going to be running short on planning time. You will need some engaging, meaningful lessons that are no prep.

Having some no prep activities like these in your back pocket can be a life saver.

Reusable resources are useful to have on hand as well.  These activities can be used over and over again with different activities or books - and you can print them ahead of time so you always have them if you need them.

5. A Clipboard and a Pencil

I carried a clipboard and a pencil with me EVERYWHERE. In fact, my clipboard was such an essential part of my school day that one of my classroom jobs was clipboard holder. This student was responsible for knowing where my clipboard was at all times, bringing it to me when I needed it, and carrying it in the hallway when I needed my hands for something else.

This clipboard I carried was sort of a "catch-all" clipboard. I used it for a huge variety of purposes, including keeping track of behavior and academic data, writing to-do lists for myself, keeping track of important dates, etc.

Whenever a parent or an administrator stopped me in the hallway and asked me to take care of something, I could write myself a note so that I didn't forget. Whenever I was keeping track of a certain student behavior, I collected the data on my clipboard. Whenever I got information about field trips or upcoming PDs or schedule changes, I kept that information in my clipboard so that I was always able to answer questions about those things, no matter where I was.

Whenever I thought of something I needed to-do, I wrote it on an empty sheet of paper on my clipboard so I wouldn't forget to do it. Whenever we had a fire drill, I always had a class list with me because I kept one on my clipboard. As 3rd grade team lead, I kept my teammates schedules' on my clipboard so I could answer questions that substitutes, parents, or my administrators might have about my team.

Clipboard With Storage
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07/24/2024 11:56 pm GMT

It was kind of a mess having all this information in one place, but it was "organized chaos" for me. I felt lost without it.

I used an ugly brown clipboard for many years teaching, and that worked perfectly fine. But this storage clipboard helped a lot when I began having one of my students keep track of the clipboard for me as one of my classroom jobs.

On a related note, you will probably already need a lanyard for your ID badge.  Consider attaching a pen or pencil to the lanyard as well so you always have something on you to write with!

6. Whiteboards and Dry Erase Markers

I truly don't know how I could have survived a year in my 3rd grade classroom without a dry erase marker and whiteboard for each of my students. Not only did these supplies help keep students engaged, but it is hands down the best way to get a quick assessment of how well students understand a concept being taught. I don't remember teaching a whole class math lesson without having students use their whiteboard at least once.

Since this was a regular part of my day, it was important to me to have well thought out procedures in place for dry erase markers and whiteboards.

Although you possibly could accomplish the same thing with just pencil and paper, it was so much easier for me to take a quick glance around the room and see who was still struggling when students were writing with dry erase markers.

The schools I taught at provided personal whiteboards for every 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade student, but you could accomplish the same thing cheaply using a blank sheet of paper in a sheet protector. I bought Dry Erase Markers any time I found them on sale so that I ALWAYS had extras.

7. A Well Stocked Classroom Library

In order to nurture a love of reading in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students, you need books that get them engaged and excited!

That's easier said than done, because books can be expensive.  These tips for stocking your classroom library on a teacher's salary might help.

Once you know how you are going to stock your library, you need to make sure you are choosing quality books.  Any of these books would make a great addition to an upper elementary classroom library.

And of course, you need a system in place for sorting your books, displaying your books, and organizing your books!  If you are the type of teacher that is incredibly organized, then this classroom library check out system is perfect for you.

8. Dice

Dice are cheap, easy to store, and make everything more fun for kids. They also are an easy way to differentiate different math skills for kids.

I used 6 sided dice, place value dice, and 10 Sided Double Dice regularly in my classroom.

Dice are a fun way to have students practice math skills that they had already learned. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, comparing numbers, area and perimeter, rounding, fractions, and more can all be made more engaging by adding dice to the lesson plan. If you need ideas for games to play with dice, check out Pinterest.

10 Sided Double Dice
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07/24/2024 11:59 pm GMT
Place Value Dice
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07/25/2024 12:00 am GMT

9. An Easy to Manage Classroom Job System

I resisted using classroom jobs in my 3rd grade classroom for a while because it seemed to cause more problems and waste more time than it was worth. Eventually, however, it become one of my teacher must-haves.

Once I revised how I did classroom jobs (using job applications and assigning a job for extended periods of time), I saved myself so much time and stress. You can read about how I set up this classroom job system here.

Or, here's a list of 32 classroom job ideas you can use in your upper elementary classroom.

10. A Personal Laminator

If you're one of the lucky few - that rare teacher that works at a school that provides a high quality laminator that never breaks and is always available - then you might not need your own personal laminator. But for everybody else, having a personal laminator can be a huge stress reliever.

It was hard for me to spend money on a personal laminator since there are a LOT of other things I would rather buy for my classroom (usually books!), but the time it saved me later on made it totally worth it.

Before I had a laminator, I wasted a LOT of time. There were many activities that I used several times a year in my classroom that I created over and over again instead of laminating (because our school laminator was ALWAYS broken). It was a huge waste of time, and I wish I had bought a laminator sooner rather than later.

Personal laminators are small (obviously) and can't usually laminate anything larger than a regular sized sheet of paper, but that's often perfect for what I needed. It's particularly perfect for center activities that can be used over and over, year after year.

Thermal Laminator
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07/24/2024 10:44 pm GMT

This is the upgraded version of the laminator I own. I've never needed to look for a new laminator, because I've had this one for a while now and it's never given me a moment of trouble.

11. Good Classroom Management and Well Thought out Procedures

This definitely isn't a new idea.  All 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers know that classroom management and classroom procedures can make or break a school year.

Every classroom and teacher is different.  There is not one right classroom management system, or one right way to set up your your classroom procedures.  However, getting ideas from other teachers can be helpful in creating your own systems.  Here are some of my more successful classroom management strategies and routines.Andhere is a free classroom procedures checklist to help you make sure you are prepared for all the procedures.

Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!


Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!

    Comments 181

    1. I absolutely love these ideas. I have a green bucket and a red bucket for pencils. Green means they are sharp and ready to go and red means STOP they need to be sharpened. I expect if a student takes a pencil from the green bucket they put one in the red bucket. I also use gel boards instead of whiteboards and don’t have to worry about the markers drying out.

      Melissa my colleague could sure use a new pencil sharpener as well as myself. I love the ideas you put out here.

    2. DO you have any idea how exciting it is to know that I’m not the only teacher who appreciates the value of a quality pencil sharpener for her eighth grade classroom?????????????????? Those in charge of ordering supplies laugh at me…those in charge of the budget scoff at me…and in the meantime, quality teaching time is constantly interrupted by the grinding noise of pencils that won’t sharpen and gears jamming!!!!!

    3. I love my extra-fine point sharpies, they aren’t the ultra fine, but extra fine. They are perfect for labeling file folders, things in my MS classroom, notebooks, you name it, I have labeled it! The other thing I love is my Dymo Label Maker. I have one that is connected to my computer for creating larger labels and one for smaller labels. Love them both!

    4. I would love to have a professional pencil sharpener! Right now, I have one I guard with my life. One student has been trained to use it, and nobody else is allowed to sharpen!

    5. I cannot live without laptops for my students to use for research.
      My class has to currently share a sharpener with another fourth grade classroom! I would love sharpener!

    6. My must haves are very similar to yours. I must have plenty of pencils and a good sharpener to use in the mornings. So many of them do not hold up! In addition, I must have decks of cards for math games, post-it notes, and lots & lots of dry erase markers. We seem to go through them so quickly! I also keep mini-stacks of my of my class lists to use for many many things.

    7. I read this in August and quickly purchased a personal laminator. I really hope I’m picked for the pencil sharpener! My kids and their little arms can hardly crank the pencil sharpener, resulting in LOOOOOONG lines and barely sharpened pencils….usually, I just do it for them, lol!

    8. My must have item is my clipboard. I carry it everywhere I go throughout the day. I keep emergency information and class lists on it. I also keep behavior plans, lesson plans, checklists, and student f&p levels. It is very helpful to have all my important and frequently used papers in one place. 🙂

    9. My must have item is my teacher binder. It has everything in it from a calendar, rosters, my grade book, parent/student info, and my plan book. All organized by tabs. I love it!! Also a good pencil sharpener is a must have in any classroom. I would love to win one please and thank you!!! ????✏

    10. Drum roll please…my must have…file folders! Simple, yet so versatile! I use them to organize everything! Then there is the occasional lapbook for my kiddos, cut them in half to use as tab/dividers, file folder games. I’ve even stapled laminated file folders to a wall and used them as student mailboxes. I have a desktop file folder organizer with each week’s blacklines tucked safely away. I’m crossing my fingers that I will be able to place that pencil sharpener next to it LOL!

    11. OMG! I recently just switched jobs and I don’t have a pencil sharpener in my school classroom. I’m in desperate need! I cross my fingers I’m chosen for this amazing sharpener! I have to go to different locations every morning. 🙁

      Another must have in a classroom is an early finisher board/activities. You always have those ones that say, “I’m done!” Those 2 words are not allowed in my room! Once students are done, they go to the early finisher board and they pick something to do. I also have a binder with critical thinking activities for the students to do. That’s on the early finisher board, as well.

      Have a merry Christmas!

    12. Classroom management and procedures are the most important. I have learned that the hard way. This is my second year of teaching. This year I tried 3-4 different management system until I found one that works. I would love a new pencil sharpener. My kiddos have tired mine out.

    13. Now more than ever a functional, industrial strength pencil sharpener is what I need in my classroom. There’s a tiny pencil inextricably lodged in my electric sharpener which really throws off our class mojo. Tiny pencils are insidious and the bane of my existence.

    14. My must have is a system for storing all papers by day for the upcoming week. All papers are copied and placed in the correct cubby for the corresponding day. I am ready to go each day.

    15. This is a great list! I would especially be lost without my whiteboards and the students love them! Thank you for doing the drawing for two pencil sharpeners- I’m in desperate need 🙂

    16. All of your ideas for necessities are bang on. I have always insisted on having 1-2 electric sharpeners in my classroom. It really simplifies the pencil issue. As it so happens my electric sharpeners have both given up after several years of heavy use. I was just researching replacements so this would be wonderful. After 31 years of teaching I can’t live without one.

    17. My number must have is colored paper and personal laminator. I maintain a variety of dice for task cards, bump, and to settle disputes. In addition, comfortable shoes and speakers

    18. I love all of your “must-haves” and I kept saying, “yep” as I read them because I couldn’t agree more! On days that I’m running late, I always think “As long as I have sharp pencils ready, we’ll be okay!”

      I would add Google Docs as one of my new “must-haves.” Using Google Docs has helped our team coordinate lesson plans easier and consolidate/share all of our documents in once place!

    19. Pencil sharpener please! I agree with all of these! My students start each week with 8 sharpened pencils. Those who still have 8 sharpened pencils on Friday get a small piece of candy (jolly rancher, starburst). This tiny motivator keeps all the pencils off the floor, and they care for them with respect!

    20. I love the idea for a clipboard holder As a job! I constantly carry a clipboard but this would free me up to help students who need help with belts, etc. Also, using dry erase boards in the classroom has created a challenge in my classroom for the markers. They run out quickly. If you coupon, you can frequently get them at the beginning of the school year for free or for a penny per pack.

    21. A good pencil sharpener is my most essential supply. Without it, the day just doesn’t go smoothly. I also love scented markers for grading papers and decks of cards for playing math games.

    22. Looks like many teachers are interested in anything that is free or a chance to win something. I totally agree with many of you items of must haves. I think for me it is music, a good book to read the class, whiteboards or my tablets. That looks like a perfect sharpener. Good luck everyone.

    23. I love a good pencil sharpener that works well This year I have a student with severe attention and focus issues. She LOVES to sharpen her pencil. Her favorite time to use our not so great electric sharpener is when I am giving directions! Annoying and funny at the same time.

    24. A classroom needs a large box of quality pencils to reduce pencil sharpening during the lesson. I prefer Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils. The decorative pencils handed out as a treat or the plastic wrapped pencils will damage the pencil sharpeners. Also, the lead will be off centered making it difficult to sharpen the lead in the middle of the pencil.

    25. Depending on how much space I have in the room, I must have either book boxes or book bags for guided reading time. It allows children to spread out around the room to read and work in different locations and keep their materials together to bring to their reading group.

    26. A good pencil sharpener is an absolute must for my classroom! I switched schools and left my pencil sharpener behind thinking my new school would have one. Nope! I’ve never missed having a good pencil sharpener so much in my life????

    27. I didn’t think a pencil sharpener was essential until I got to my new classroom, and the wall sharpener has a broken handle. 🙁 I am new to teaching, and I thought..surely this won’t be a problem. I’m sure high school students carry spare sharpened pencils. Why I’m certain most use mechanical pencils anyway. Boy was I wrong! I endure the daily complaint from my students that my pencil sharpener is the worst. Ugh! I found a hand sharpener that I though worked well, until I asked a student to help me sharpen some pencils. She said she would be glad to, but that she would sharpen them in another teacher’s room because he had an electric sharpener! In short, she was sent, to my embarrassment they were sharpened with another teacher’s sharpener, and I vowed that I would find a way to purchase an electric sharpener. If you still have one left, it would be a welcome addition to our classroom. 🙂

    28. I so NEED a heavy duty pencil sharpener! I have 4 blocks of 3rd graders (about 70 kids total) rotating to my class for Writing/English. I buy a new pencil sharpener every year through the county school district supply barn and it is not a good one. For years, I have about 75 to 80 pencils that I sharpen at the beginning of the school year and keep in a bucket. Once my Block 1 leaves my class, it goes in a basket on the counter by the pencil sharpener. Block 2 comes in and have fresh, sharp pencils to use in the “clean/sharp” bucket by the board. (This helps with germs too). By the end of the day, my counter basket is full so at dismissal when my homeroom class is back in my room picking up chairs, and cleaning up, I have a helper dump pencils out on the counter and spray with Lysol. Later after car/bus duty I re-sharpen pencils (some are still good so I just stick them back in the clean/sharp bucket. Realistically things happen after school and it’s not perfectly completed as I wish, so I will do some and then some in the morning and then work on some throughout the day if needed. I can always have at least 20 ready easily before each block comes to my room. This is worth doing for me because I can’t stand the constant grinding of pencils during class time and the kids aren’t using the sharpener so it lasts all year even though it is not the best. After about 2 months, I have to start over with new, fresh pencils because the others are getting too small, but I’ve started adding about 10 new pencils every 2 weeks and that has helped me not to have 80 pencils at one time!

    29. I would love a new pencil sharpener for my classroom. I still have the one that the students have to crank and it never works. They have the hardest time getting their pencils sharp. So many times, only half of the pencil gets sharp and then it won’t write. I end up sharpening about 10 pencils a day because they can not turn the handle well enough to do it on their own.

    30. Two Must haves for my classroom: Sticky notes for jotting our thoughts on reading and my awesome stapler bought for me by a room mom years ago. Before then I’d been through multiple staplers provided by the school.

    31. My must haves include several on your list! However, I’m grateful to get the clipboard suggestion! 2 more must haves for my classroom would include:
      1) Mathlink cubes
      2) Post-it Super-Sticky-Self-Stick Wall Poster Pad

    32. A new pencil sharpener would be amazing!! I’ve gone through 2 sharpeners already and its not even Christmas yet. I should have broken down and purchased a quality sharpeners from the beginning of the year.

    33. My must have is definitely a pencil sharpener, my first electric one broke this year (mysteriously). Also, my new favorite must have is a note pad on my desk that I got from the Target dollarspot that has a to do’s for every day of the week so I never forget things!

    34. Pencil sharpening can be an issue! Having a good sharpener is key. I also added collecting 3 key supplies at the end of each week from my students: a pencil, eraser, and red pen. If they have these three supplies, they have lunch with me the following week. We have very few lost pencils now!

    35. I would love this sharpener. My current pencil sharpeners consist of an on the wall hand crank and a sparatic electric sharpener purchased the beginning of the year, that will run by its self or not at all. Sometimes we can keep it plugged in and other times we have to unplug it because it doesn’t shut off. I unplug it every night bc I’m afraid it may start when no one is there and could be a hazard.

    36. I would also add highlighters to my list of must haves. We use highlighters to find vocabulary words, sight words, and finding evidence in text (usually Weekly Readers). The kids think they are so fun to use.
      I would love a new pencil sharpener. The one we have eats our pencils.

    37. A positive attitude. It’s free and can quickly change the atmosphere of the classroom when things don’t go as planned. Just relax and roll with it. Being positive is contagious!

    38. Ahhhhhhhhh! You must be talking to me because I need a pencil sharpener and the one you posted a picture of is the exact one I’ve been researching. 🙂 how funny. Hope I win! Best of luck to all. God bless

    39. Always on the lookout for a reliable classroom pencil sharpener! I’d love to receive this one! Will have to add it to my Christmas wish list if I’m not a winner here : )

    40. I love this article, many of these items are on my Christmas list. I am getting ready to take over my first classroom and I love reading all the advice from your blogs. Would love to win this sharpener, it would be a blessing as I shared many experiences in my student teaching. I never thought that we needed a procedure/rule for sharpening pencils until I saw how out of hand it can get without. Happy Holidays!

    41. One of my must haves is also the personal laminator. I have laminated 100’s of things that I would have ordinarily have thrown away. I am in search of the perfect pencil sharpener so I hope I win. Fingers crossed.

    42. Everything on your list is on mine, too! I would also add my teacher binder that I print out every year and keep all my important information in. It’s a lifesaver!

    43. Hiii. I would love a pencil sharpener. I am a new teacher and the students broke our last functioning one! Yikes! LOL We always need white board markers and sharpies. They seem to dissappear in my classroom.

    44. I have three terrible pencil sharpeners, they eat pencils and barely sharpen them!!! This makes my students so frustrated. We have 5 hand held ones, kids can use, but these cause disruption too. My neighbor has the pencil sharpened you show, I sneak in her room suring recess. She is so kind, but I am pretty sure she’d love a break from that sound!!! Fingers crossed you contact me Monday!

    45. I love your blog! As a third year teacher, you’ve opened my eyes to SO MUCH and my students have truly benefitted from the new view!

      I think all of your ideas are perfect 🙂

    46. I honestly can’t live without disinfectant wipes. They really keep my room and all nooks and crannies germ free. I have a routine and class chart for cleaning. I even have a frequency schedule that changes w the season.

    47. One of My most important must haves would be my portable Bluetooth speakers. They Connect to my iPad and I set them strategically around the room. This lets me play music and allows all the kids to hear it without it being super loud or super quiet in one spot of the room. The kids love it! …and so do I 🙂

    48. My must haves in my classroom is my old three hole punch. I have had it for about 18 years. I also, love my plastic organizer tool box that I organize all my supplies in. This keeps me organized and I can find supplies fast. I could really use a good sharpener !

    49. I have just started in a new room this year after moving here from Australia. I have had to rely on a colleague to lend me one of these sharpeners as there was nothing there when I took over for another. I am only on long term sub rates, so there is no way I can justify buying one out of my own pocket at the moment.

    50. My must have for my classroom is magnets! I’m constantly hanging charts, hanging up samples of projects, student work, etc!

      I would love a new pencil sharpener as the crank one in my classroom is on its last leg.
      Thanks for all your great tips and ideas.

    51. A must have in my classroom is my document camera. I got it last year. I honestly don’t know what I did without it before. I use it several times a day. A great pencil sharpener is also a must have. Right now, my students are using an old manual one fastened to a wooden cabinet because our electric one finally gave out. I would love to win a new one!!

    52. I would also love a decent pencil sharpener for my classroom. One thing I can’t live without in my classroom that was not on your list is cloth aprons (I fashioned them after a carpenter’s tool belt). I sewed a bunch in holiday fabrics and other kid fabrics. I wear them and then as I walk around the room giving children feedback or teaching, I always have a pen, highlighter, markers, and expo pens right there with me!

    53. My biggest must have is a solid bathroom break procedure plan. We’re in the portables, so every bathroom break takes forever, and kids are always asking and interrupting me. I laminated two copies of my class list, as well as a bright piece of cardstock, and stuck a strip of stick on Velcro down them. Then I cut out the names on one copy of the list and stuck them to the second list: presto! Bathroom passes. The kids are in charge of sticking them to the “line” on the carsstock so one kid goes at a time and I don’t have to keep track of it beyond receiving a pass when someone leaves.

    54. A good heavy dirty pencil sharpener is a must! this is my first year teaching, so with how much money I had to put into myour classroom I got a pencil sharpener. It is not a heavy duty one and boy do I wish I would have spent the money for the higher quality. Dang it! Lesson learned!! Also, for myself I must have a teachers apron. I feel lost without my apron, it holds everything I need. they areally also so cute.

    55. This my second year teaching and never knew the pencil struggle would be so real!! I teach 3rd grade in an urban school district and try to give my students ever resource I can. Your list of must haves is great! I would include student clipboards, post-it notes, and lot she of math manipulatives as possible!!

    56. A good classroom library is a must for me. I spend a big chunk of time at the beginning of the year organizing it and it pays off in that the kids can always just pull out a book and read!! Pencil sharpeners that are quick and quiet-ish are a bonus too!!!

    57. I have been working for the same district ten years and every year I have asked for an electric pencil sharpener. I have had no luck getting one. I have bought some on my own, but they end up breaking. A pencil sharpener would be great to have. It would make my life much easier!

    58. We use our laminator daily! Our current electric pencil sharpener tends to chew up pencils more than sharpen them, so winning a new one would be wonderful! Most of the time, the students prefer to use a hand sharpener, rather than chance losing their pencil in the electric one.

    59. Thanks for sharing and offering this giveaway! My most important must-have would be our scheduled classroom movement breaks throughout the day. Students have several options to choose for a break such as taking a walk, using exercise equipment (stretch bands, a weighted ball, jump rope etc.), doing yoga/stretches on a mat, using exercise cards, etc. I have a small class of 7 (special ed) so it makes breaks more manageable in terms of taking turns with the equipment and supervising them as they move around. It has made a huge difference in my classroom!

    60. A pencil sharpener is a must. Another thing I splurged on this year that made a huge different was Bluetooth speakers for my laptop. Made a HUGE difference in being able to hear.

    61. My upper elementary classroom Must Have is an extensive classroom library organized by genre. Every year I have parents and students who say I am the one that got everyone doing more independent reading. I still have students from previous years who come back to borrow books they didn’t get to read while they were in my class.

    62. My must haves are definitely white boards for math lessons and also exit tickets. I have found as new teacher they really help me reflect on how a lesson went and what we may need to revisit the next day.

    63. I must have a good pencil sharpener! I really hate the sound of students sharpening their pencil so I need a good one that is efficient to cut down on the endless grinding of the sharpener.

    64. I would agree that all of the items on your list are essential, but I would rate the clipboard as most important for me. I use mine to monitor behavior, jot down student discussion points that I need to repeat and to also keep a list of HOT questions that I may use during whole or small group discussion. It is the lifeline of my class. I also have a laminator in my classroom. Its usefulness has been priceless! Fingers crossed. C’mon new sharpener. Thanks in advance.

    65. I absolutely love your ideas. Thank you for sharing. One of my favorite go to tools is using wide ribbons as bulletin board borders. Aside from the available varieties, I find they hold up extremely well, won’t rip when taken down, and are easier to store than paper borders. What I haven’t had the opportunity to implement and can’t wait to use are mini instant cameras. I believe they provide clear visual documentation of student process and progress.

    66. A personal paper cutter. I wish I had one in my own classroom so I didn’t have to always go searching the staff work areas for an available one every time I need to cut a stack of paper.

    67. My must-have is post-it notes. There are great for reminders to myself, to jot tips for students in writing workshop and to stick in guided reading books with questions for them to answer. This limits their word choice so they have to give a really well thought out answer and they love using post-its.

    68. I work in a title one school. Having an efficient pencil sharpener will be a great assets to my classroom where I supply more pencils than I could count. My student would appreciate this so much.

    69. In my classroom, my must have is the morning journal routine, which at the beginning of the week, I provide my students with a writing prompt. The students have to construct a response to the prompt using a 5-paragraph format. Another must have is 3 pre-sharpened pencils, which students must bring to class each morning and are only allowed to sharpen 2 in the morning. After the morning, the students are not allowed to use the electric pencil sharpener. I have 4 handheld sharpeners students are allowed to use, which helps to reserve the electric pencil sharpener. Another must have, is tight transitions and routines.

    70. My 2 must haves are a 3 hole puncher because everyday I’m adding my lessons and worksheets into my binders. I finally realized that I can’t rely on the sharpener that the school gives me. With working with second graders I feel like getting a new cheap school sharpener once a month. I started borrowing your exact one from a co teacher at least once a day. So the second must have is an amazing pencil sharpener.

    71. The no prep sub plans sound amazing! I also hate morning work, so I’m really interested in that too!

      I love a high quality pencil sharpener! Those can never be replaced!

    72. My must haves for my classroom is an awesome classroom library with lots of choice and lots of levels for the many diverse learners in my classroom, another must have is comfy seating for various book nooks in my classroom. Students are more motivated to read when they can get comfortable and cozy. I would love the opportunity to win a pencil sharpener. That would be so helpful in my Title One classroom. Thank you for considering me!

    73. I am a 2nd year teacher who just recently “killed” my cheap pencil sharpener which I thought was a major problem, until another teacher loaned me hers (the same as pictured above). I now understand just how much a quality sharpener makes life easier! Talk about a blessing in disguise. I would love to have a new one! Thanks for your constant new teacher help/encouragement!

    74. I always love your posts because they are right on target for elementary! Some of my must haves are sheet protectors, dry erase boards, clipboards for learners, great pencil sharpener, an easy positive behavior management system, and a manageable morning routine.

    75. Hi! I have all of those things on the list except: number 1, I usually use this time for students to do their independent reading and for students to spend time on our online reading program. I only have a few of your resources from reusable resources, I love them. And of course what teacher doesn’t need a hefty pencil sharpener? I have 44 students (departmentalized) and I have purchased two of the pencil sharpeners you have listed as the picture and well…they just get tired:) Thank you for all of your great posts and awesome resources!

    76. Thank you! Such a great list, now I have a great classroom Christmas list! Also, in my room, sheet protectors are a must!!! I use them in small groups for graphic organizers. Therefore, I do not have to make a copy for every student to throw away when we finish it. We simply use dry erase markers and erase before switching centers. This was even more useful when we were departmentalized. I also use them when I do not have a chance to get to the laminator for anchor charts or center directions. They have so many great uses!

    77. As a second year teacher, the most important must haves in my classroom are routines and extra pencils! Routines have saved my life this year; last year, I was definitely not ready! Having the routines has helped me have better classroom management and keeps the class less chaotic. Extra pencils are also a must have! My students seem to lose theirs all the time. I’m still attempting to come up with a system where I don’t need to have millions of back up pencils. This blog is so helpful! Thank you!

    78. Every classroom needs an abundance of expo markers and dry erase boards. They can be used for review games, independent practice, and partner work. Love them!

    79. My must have is comfy seating somewhere in the room. My students who get distracted easily often just need somewhere to go for a couple of minutes to regroup. A beanbag or extra office chair works wonders!

    80. I couldn’t agree more with 1,2,3, and 7. I am currently struggling with the morning work concept. I am so excited to try your method of practicing writing skills, starting Monday!
      One essential in my classroom this year is chart paper! I love it. I use it for group assignments, and whole group discussions frequently. The kids love displaying their ideas and thoughts and being able to use markers etc. Having readily available resources is an absolute must! This year I am teaching Science and I’ve struggled to come up with ideas for these resources this year. However, I believe I am going to try the A-Z worksheet and have each student keep them in their folders where they can take them out at any moment should something pop up that I have to tend to. All of your articles and resources have been so helpful! Thank you so much for all you do!

    81. I love my personal laminator (I actually have 3). I also use a staple gun to hang up stuff on the concrete school walls. My husband has used his concrete drill to hang more permanent items.

    82. A must have in my 8th grade classroom is a constant supply of glue…we use an interactive notebook and the glue seems to disappear after I refill the basket with glue. So I stock up on glue to have ready for the whole year!

    83. We never have enough white board erasers and no money to order them either. And I have a dryer that devours socks weekly. I had a bucket full of socks with no match. So now those socks are white board erasers. I take them home every 2 weeks and wash and then they’re not so nasty. ????

    84. I feel like there are so many things in my classroom that I can’t live without, but the most important for me is individual white boards and dry erase markers for each of my students! I use them so often as a means of formative assessment! Great blog post!

    85. I agree, a pencil sharpener is my go-to resource. Mine is limping along. I really need to get a new one but have been putting it off because it’s expensive. I also think dice is anotje rbreta go to because it has so many engaging uses.

    86. The pencil sharpner is a most used item in my classroom. When I moved to the 2nd Grade this year, the classroom had the worst pencil sharpner. It didn’t sharpen the pencisl, just chewed them up, my students always want to sharpen pencils. I assigned students to sharpen pencils first thing in the morning so that no one will have to sharpen pencils during the day. That strategy doesn’t always work and it takes such a long time to get the pencils sharpen.

    87. My most important must have as a first year teacher is having everything color coded by subject. This includes my students folders and materials to the bins that I store my prep and lesson materials in. I even color code the resources I find on Pinterest and online as I print them out by marking the subject color with a marker. It makes it easier to stay organized every single day. I do not leave my room until everything is color coded and in the correct bin.

    88. My classroom must-have is definitely Class Dojo. I can reward points for positive classroom behavior, or take away points as needed. It helps with classroom management and the kids really enjoy checking their score!

    89. I really agree with your list of must haves. This year I added chair pocket ( seat sacks) to my must have list. The school I work in have mostly tables and having a place to keep a book and papers is incredibly helpful for organization.

    90. My two must haves include a really sturdy 3 hole punch, the one I have is amazing! It is about 20 years old and I guard it like a hawk! It can hole punch up to about 20 pages at a time-I’d be lost without it. My second is a decent stapler…this are really hard to come by as they take a real beating, it is also hard to find the type the open all the way as well, as they are not as common, I also love my long armed stapler that I’ve had for many, many years!

    91. We use dry erase boards and dry erase markers every day in my 3rd grade classroom. Definitely a must have! This is such a great list of must-haves for the classroom. As a first year teacher, I’m always looking for new things to add to my classroom. I am definitely in need of a good pencil sharpener. Thanks for the opportunity to win one!

    92. My students have personal whiteboards, and I, like you, am always replenishing my supply or markers. Dry erase markers and sticky notes are my “addictions” at the office supply store. The pencil sharpener shown here is the one I have – and LOVE – in my room. It is 3 years old now, and I’m dreading the day when it breaks and has to be replaced. The other 2 electric sharpeners I had are my backups – and they do not work very well at all. I recently purchased a personal laminator when it was on sale for $10. (However I still have to buy the pouches to use in it.)

    93. Thank you for sharing. I have about three students they are constantly sharpening pencils. This year I stated they need to have 5 pencils sharpened every morning. My must have is having three student assistants every week. I just state, that the reading center needs to cleaned up and they know what to do. No more individual jobs. I use to waste time saying attendance person , and the students who shout at the person, do your job, … . Now I just state assistants I need to have the hot lunch count and out of the three is ready to go.

    94. Kalena,
      One of my team members has this pencil sharpener….I go to her room to sharpen pencils. I love it!!! Just not in my personal budget. Thanks for offering to purchase two of them to two lucky winners.
      Happy Holidays to you!

      1. Tara

        I love the clipboard idea! That would help me out in so many ways!

        So far I am on my 3rd pencil sharpener this year because I buy the cheap ones! My students don’t even use it. The nicer sharpeners are just too expensive for my budget unfortunately.

      2. My classroom must-have is pocket charts for turning in work. I bought three ten pocket organizers and numbered them with each student’s assigned number. With one glance I can see who has turned in each assignment, and who hasn’t, so I can hold them accountable. 5th graders are notorious for not turning in work! In the past I sometimes would have stacks of papers to correct and not know until the next week who had missing work. This system has saved me this year!
        Thank you for the chance to win the sharpener!! I love your ideas and am thankful to have found your blog! Happy holidays!

      3. I must have my OWN space. I don’t really like the idea of having co-teachers or others district personnel walking in and out of my room at any given time.

      4. I love the idea of a clipboard job! I tend to leave my clipboard around the classroom and seem to always be looking for it. An extra set of eyes on it would be wonderful! Also, the pencil sharpening tips are great ideas that I am going to try to implement into my classroom!

        Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

        -A fourth grade teacher from New Jersey

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