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Top 10 Teacher Must Haves

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Recently, I asked teachers what their favorite school supplies are for the classroom. As you can imagine, many teachers had a hard time mentioning just one! I compiled a list of the top 10 teacher must haves. Does your favorite make the list?

Top 10 Teacher Must Haves

1. Flair Pens

Teachers are ALWAYS talking and obsessing over the magical wonder of flair pens and I completely agree. These pens will actually change your life. They come in many different colors including pastels and tropical colors [major heart eyes!!] I love the way the pens write. It makes correcting (or for me, drawing stars) a much more enjoyable task!

2. Sharpies/Chart Paper Markers

Is one of your guilty pleasures creating beautiful anchor charts? Well, sharpies and chart paper markers make the list of top teacher must haves. I really like the thin tip markers by Crayola. These pens have a pointy tip for making writing and detail easy but if you hold the marker at an angle it goes on thicker. Easy to draw with! And of course what would we do without sharpies!

3. Chart Paper

Again with the guilty pleasure! Chart paper is really an essential but not just any chart paper.. my favorite is the post-it sticky kind because it is SO easy to pick up and move ANYWHERE! Sometimes I’ll teach from one of my anchor charts at the carpet and then peel it off the chart and stick it on my whiteboard so students can use it at their tables. AMAZING! This one comes in plain white, dry erase or primary lines.

4. HP Printer and Instant Ink

I am a newbie here myself but I’ve heard great things about using an HP printer so you can get instant ink. If you’re tired of buying loads and loads of ink like me, you must sign up for Instant Ink. The printer knows when you are running low on ink and ships you more BEFORE you run out! I just bought myself a new printer and signed up and already I know it’s worth it. Click here to get a month of ink free!

5. Laminator and Laminating Sheets

Laminating all the things is not only one of my favorite things but is also so worth the time it takes! I have laminated pretty much everything that I prep and it has lasted three years so far and looks like it will continue to last a long time. I like to laminate decor, games, word work, puzzles.. everything! Especially if students are going to be using it because we all know kindergarteners are not the most gentle.

6. Post-its

Post-its made the list because duh, teachers write lists about lists! I love using the larger post its that have lines on them because my lists usually don’t fit all on the standard size. And, these bright colors make every teacher heart happy!

7. Expo markers

I recently got the multicolored large pack of expo markers on super discount on Amazon Prime Day and am obsessed! Now, these are sacred so I never let my students use them.. however the thin tip black expos are what I give students to use on their mini whiteboards. These are good for informal assessments or during word work. Tip: expo markers work on anything laminated. I laminate my word work and students use their markers to complete the work depending on what sight or spelling words we have.

8. Astrobrights

Holy brightness! This pack of Astrobrights paper is aaaamazing! I like to print important flyers on this type of paper because it gets parents attention. How many times do you send home Friday Folders and you never hear back? Well, using bright colors get noticed way more and parents will respond.

9. Lesson Planner

Have you tried an Erin Condren planner? If you have, I’m sure you’re hooked. These teacher planners come with everything you could ever want and they are ADORABLE! I seriously love planning for my kinders and I think most of the enjoyment is because I get to write in my Erin Condren planner. You can even customize!! This is what my planner looks like for this upcoming year!

If you want $10 off your next Erin Condren planner, use my referral code here.

10. Teacher Toolbox

I’m new to teacher toolboxes as of this year but I am SO excited to use it for all the things and stay super organized. I purchased a couple like this off of amazon and made my own labels to fit with my jungle theme. There are also a ton of other label designs on TpT!

Teacher Toolbox

Birthdays in the Classroom: Celebrate in a Unique Way

Often times, birthdays in the classroom are a day where students get to bring in a treat for the class and wear a fancy outfit (or free dress at my school since my students wear uniforms). I try to make birthdays more than just a day where students eat sugary snacks at recess, bounce off the walls until lunch, and then crash before dismissal.

I like to incorporate a celebration about important events that have happened in student’s lives up until this point and something they look forward to now that they have turned a year older.

A Unique Way to Celebrate Birthdays in the Classroom

Birthday Celebration Form

At back to school night, I send many forms home with parents, one of them being my birthday celebration form. On this form, parents fill out an important event or memory that has happened each year that the child has been alive. They also fill out something that they are looking forward to now that they are a year older. Find that and other components for a birthday celebration here.

Parents fill out this form and send it back to me as soon as possible so that when it’s their child’s birthday, I can use it for our class celebration.

Birthday Celebration Procedure

I set aside about five minutes before recess when we celebrate a student’s birthday.

I call students to the rug and they sit on the outside of the carpet. Then, the student whose birthday it is, gets cards that have each month of the year on them. (Each morning during morning circle we sing a months of the year song like this). We sing that song again during this celebration and as we sing each month, the birthday boy or girl puts the month cards down in a circle in the middle.

Once the song is over, I ask the student to find his or her birth month and to stand by it. Then, as I start reading a special moment or event that happened in their first year of life, they walk around the circle as if a year is passing and stop when they reach their birth month once again. I continue to read each event that has happened in the child’s years of living. Then, as I read something they look forward to, they walk around the circle one last time.

Birthday Celebrations

From there, the birthday student collects the month of the year cards as we sing the months of the year song. Once the student is finished picking them up, we sing happy birthday to him or her. Do any of your students like to sing the “cha cha cha, high-ya” version of the birthday song?

I like to finish this celebration with the student choosing quiet friends to go line up for snack. They love having the responsibility and take it very seriously when choosing the students who are sitting the nicest. And, of course everyone is trying to get out to snack ASAP to get their hands on the sugar!

More Than Just Treats

I like this way of celebrating a student’s birthday because it’s a way for students to get to know important events and memories that have happened in each other’s lives. It’s also a way for me to get to know students better.

Many times, as I’m reading what parents have written about their child’s life, other students will make connections out loud. I often read “Student name went to Disneyland for the first time” and I’ll hear.. “I’ve been to Disneyland!” from one of the other students. I love that this celebration brings students together and connects them in a way that they might not connect out on the playground pretending to be zombies or playing tag.

If you want to try this celebration out in your own classroom, you can purchase my birthday set in my TpT store here.

Celebrate Birthdays in this Unique Way

How do you like to celebrate birthdays in your classrooms? Do you have any special celebrations?



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Tips for the First Day of Kindergarten

I love teaching kindergarten because students are at a magical age where they’re curious about everything, constantly soaking up the world around them and they love you unconditionally. I love that I provide their first experience to what school is about. However, teaching kindergarten is an exhausting career and the first day and even first week tends to be extra exhausting. Over my few years of teaching, I’ve figured out some tips to making the first day of kindergarten run smoothly.

1. Go on a classroom and school tour.

At some point in your day (I do this toward the beginning of the day), take your new bunch of babies on a school AND classroom tour. I’m lucky because I have an assistant teacher so we split students in half and while I’m giving a classroom tour, she gives a school tour. Then, we switch kids so all students get to tour both the school and the classroom. If you do not have an assistant you’ll just have to give both tours. You may even want to split your tours into two days.

What to do during your school tour:

1. Make sure you stop by the bathrooms. I have my assistant show students where the bathroom is and she lets students use the bathroom so they can get familiarized. Go over bathroom rules while you’re there.

2. Stop by the office and introduce your kiddos to the secretary AND principal. This is a nice treat for the secretary and principal as kindergarteners really are the cutest at school! (Shh, don’t tell the other grades.)

3. Show students where they will be eating snack and lunch. Go over snack and lunch rules during this time but also remind students of the rules right before snack and right before lunch. I found a TpT freebie about lunchtime manners that I like to read the first week before lunch.

4. Let students explore where they’ll be playing. My assistant walks students by the school play structure and also where our outside toys are at the back door of our classroom.

What to do during your classroom tour:

1. Show students where their seats are. In my classroom, I have spots for them to sit at our carpet and seats at a table. They already know their rug spots because I give the classroom tour after we’ve done circle time. It’s a good idea to practice transitioning from their rug square to their tables.

2. Point out where your daily schedule is and how you’ll tell them what the schedule is each day. Also tell them what subjects you’ll be covering in kindergarten.

3. Explain any behavior management systems. I like to only briefly discuss my whole class and table point systems because they’ll catch on as you use them. What I focus on during this part of the tour is our clip chart. I have students sit around the clip chart and explain how it works. I point out where their clips are and that each student has their own clip. Then, I give examples and have students practice moving their clips up and down. Important: when you pick a volunteer to ask to move their clip down for an example reason, make sure you preface the scenario with… “this is pretend” or “I know this would never happen..” so the student who is moving their clip down does not feel bad and is not traumatized on their first day of school. And, of course give an example of clip up behavior and have them move their clip back up.

4. Show different sections in your room. I like to show the different center stations and what types of things they might find there. I also show where our free play toys are and show them the options there. Last, I show them our library. I show this last because I have them practice taking a book from the library and find a spot to sit. We read in the library until the second group comes back from their school tour.

2. Start routines right away.

It’s important to get into your routines right away so students begin to learn the schedule and your expectations from the get go. I do circle time as the very first thing in the morning on the first day of school because that’s what we do every single morning of kindergarten. During the first week, I model all the jobs and then as the second week begins, I start having volunteers come up to practice the circle jobs.

I also start my behavior management systems right away and show them my expectations through positive reinforcement of students who are showing behavior that I am looking for. We do an activity about bucket fillers and we practice writing bucket fillers to a new friend in our class. All these routines start day one so students can get used to them and be successful right away.

3. Take a first day of kindergarten picture.

Your students are coming to you as tiny little peanuts and by the time the end of the year rolls around.. they will have blossomed into these humans who have grown and changed so much. I made a “First Day of Kindergarten” frame and a “Last Day of Kindergarten” frame in order to capture this growth. Tip: At the end of the year, I put together a memory book for my students as a keepsake and use these two pictures as the cover. Don’t forget to take a picture of yourself in the frame, this is your first day of kindergarten too!

Create your own frame with these supplies! (Affiliate Link)

4. Plan enough but not too much.

Every year, I forget just how long it takes kindergarteners at the beginning of the year than at the end to do things. Make sure you give yourself extra time for transitions especially. Kindergarteners are a little bit like lost sheep and it will take double the time for everything you ask them to do. If you find that you’ve given yourself too much transition time (highly unlikely) ask a get to know you question. Or you could play a game like Simon Says or go over school and classroom rules.

5. Repeat, repeat, repeat. (And repeat right before.)

I remember my second year teaching, I went over dismissal rules and how we need to give a high five so that I know who is leaving and can watch who they are leaving with. Well, despite tip number 4, I did not give myself enough time before dismissal to repeat dismissal rules. And, as we walked out in our best line that first day of kinders could do, I turned to look as we reached outside and saw all students start running in different directions toward their parents. This gave my teacher heart the biggest scare ever as I tried to see who went with who. It was a huge disaster! Now, I make sure I repeat the rules and procedures right before they happen. I also tell parents to stand at our kindergarten tables so this does not happen again. This is just one instance where I wish I took the extra time to repeat, repeat, repeat. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Kindergarteners need extra repetition to get things stuck in their brains. Make sure you repeat everything: rules, procedures, directions, expectations, etc!


These five tips will help you have a successful first day of kindergarten. What tips would you add to this list?