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Buy It Or Skip It? 15 Teacher Must-Haves For The Classroom (And What’s NOT Worth The Hype!)

As we head into the new school year, teachers everywhere are stocking up on all of their favorite teacher must-haves for the classroom. If you’re anything like me, you’ve made some amazing purchases for your classroom over the years, and some not so great ones. In this blog post, I’m sharing 15 must-haves for the classroom along with 15 things that are NOT worth the hype.

This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here.

teacher must-haves for the classroom

15 Teacher Must-Haves For The Classroom

Let’s first start on a positive note with 15 teacher must-haves for the classroom that are totally worth buying. These are all items that I have either personally used and loved or teachers in my Saddle Up For 2nd Grade Teachers Facebook Community have recommended.

There’s no way I could rank them all, so these are in no particular order. You can find most of these must-haves for the classroom in my Amazon store under my Classroom Favorites tab or under my Back to School Must-Haves tab

  1. Giant anchor chart paper with an adhesive strip across the top – This makes moving anchor charts around and sticking them to the wall easy peasy. 
  2. Anchor chart tablets – These are ruled, so you can use them for writing letters, numbers, math problems, or sentences. 
  3. Mr. Sketch markers – Just trust me on this one. These are THE BEST markers for making anchor charts!
  4. A comfortable teacher chair – The last thing you need is to sit on a hard, uncomfortable chair when grading papers, lesson planning, or reading to your class. Your back will thank you.
  5. U-shaped table – This is my favorite kind of table to use for my small group lessons. It allows me to easily work with each student without having to stand and walk around the entire time. I think this is definitely one of the must-haves for the classroom that every teacher needs.
  6. Table caddies – These are perfect for storing supplies for math stations, reading groups, art, etc. 
  7. Dry erase sleeves – I can’t express how much I love these! Dry erase sleeves allow you to skip the lamination and prep less copies. Just slide any activity into the sleeve to write on with a dry erase marker. When you’re done, erase the sleeve for the next group of students or slide the activity out and store it for another day. 
  8. Pocket charts – Every teacher needs a pocket chart for calendar activities, name tags for small groups, pocket chart sorting activities, and more!
  9. Desk essentials – I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a GOOD pair of scissors, a stapler (I love the spring-powered kind), a handy staple remover (I love this magnetic one!), and a good pencil sharpener!  These are must-haves for the classroom that you do NOT want to skimp on.
  10. Sturdy Sterilite storage drawers – I know Target has a ton of cheap storage solutions, but when it comes to storing math centers, supplies, and lesson plans for the week, trust me, you want the STURDY Sterilite storage drawers. 
  11. Class set of clipboards/whiteboards – I use these almost daily! Whether it’s for a mini lesson, a small group activity, or playing a math game, a class set of clipboards and whiteboards is a MUST!
  12. Wireless doorbell – I know some teachers could skip this one, but I personally LOVE my wireless doorbell and it is one of my absolute must-haves for the classroom. It makes transitioning (especially during math stations!) a breeze. 
  13. Glue dots/sticky clips – If you’ve ever been personally victimized by sticky putty or double-sided tape, you NEED to try glue dots and sticky clips. I use glue dots to hang items that aren’t going to move, like my posters and name tags. Sticky clips are great for hanging task cards around the room or seasonal items that you change throughout the year. 
  14. Sticky notes – This wouldn’t be a teacher must-haves for the classroom top 15 list without sticky notes, and I don’t think this one needs a ton of explanation. There are a million ways to use them, both for yourself and in your teaching!
  15. Classroom Organization Labels – Not only are classroom organization labels bright and fun, but they are practical and make it easy to keep your classroom neat and tidy while allowing your students to easily find what they need. This is my favorite bundle of classroom labels, which comes with a set for school supplies, math manipulatives, and word work supplies.
classroom organization labels are teacher must-haves for the classroom

15 Classroom Supplies You Can SKIP

Now for the list of 15 classroom supplies that are not worth the hype, that you can skip and save your money on. Of course, if you have any of these items and love them, you do you, teacher friend! In fact, I have some of these items and love them, too!

These are just items from mine and other teachers’ experiences in our Saddle Up For 2nd Grade Teachers community that we could live without. Everyone has their personal preferences, and that’s why it’s so fun to see everyone’s unique classrooms!

  1. Chair pockets – I’ve had these before, and I found it was hard for students to access things from behind them. Plus, students were always knocking them off when walking around the room. 
  2. Light boxes – Are they cute lit up with fun phrases? Yes. Are they a must-have necessity? No.
  3. Pre-made anchor charts – These are oftentimes boring and don’t include everything you want them to. The magic of anchor charts is completing them together as a class and putting your own spin on them!
  4. Crayon sharpener – Let’s be honest, the only thing these are good for is breaking crayons or getting tiny crayons stuck inside. Instead of investing in this, just invest in extra crayons. 
  5. Magnetic bookshelves – These claim to be sturdy, but if you’re anything like me and overstock them with books, they fall off easily. Plus, they do take precious space on your whiteboard or cabinets, so if you have a smaller classroom, you may want to skip these. 
  6. Mechanical pencils – Every kid feels cool using a mechanical pencil, but as a teacher, I just see endless hassles with losing lead and constantly refilling the lead. Regular pencils are where it’s at in the primary grades. 
  7. Themed borders and posters – When I started out, I thought ALL of my borders and posters had to match my classroom theme. WRONG! Instead, choose borders and posters that go with everything (like basic brights or black and white) and keep them up year after year, even if your theme changes. 
  8. Magnetic borders Speaking of borders, magnetic borders are NOT where it’s at. Oftentimes, the places we want to stick borders aren’t magnetic anyway! And do you really need a border around your whiteboard to distract your students? No!
  9. Student mailboxes – This can take up a ton of space and isn’t a total necessity. Check out how I use a crate for student mailboxes to control the paper chaos.  
  10.  Bean bag chairs – Not only are these a pain to refill with the beans, but only so many students can use them at a time, which leads to arguments and constantly policing the bean bag chair. No thank you!
  11.  Letter boards – These used to be the THING when I started teaching. However, they take a long time to change, and teachers just don’t have that kind of time! Plus, does anyone really read them? 
  12. Yoga balls – I’m all for flexible seating, but I prefer my students on the ground, not bouncing up and down in the air. No matter how great your classroom management is, there are always those kids. The yoga balls I’ve used in my classroom have a stand to sit them on, which helps a ton!
  13. Mini erasers – I know I might catch some heat for this one, and don’t get me wrong, I love a good mini eraser as much as the next teacher and have a stash of them myself, but do you really need them for every season and in every pattern? No! You never seem to use them as much as you think you will either. I’d say stock up on a few fun sets to keep on hand, but don’t buy them every time you see them at Target!
  14. Random activities and decor from Target Dollar Spot – Now, for another unpopular opinion… Target Dollar Spot items. Whether it’s the random activities like puzzles or flash cards or the random decor for every season and holiday, you just don’t need to clutter your classroom with it all. If it brings you joy and you know you’ll use it, go for it. Otherwise, this one’s a skip from me!
  15. Prize box – Ya’ll, I ditched my prize box years ago, and I never looked back! Instead of using knick-knacks and trinkets to motivate students, try these Classroom Management Reward Puzzles instead and motivate them with unique activities and little to no-expense prizes that they actually enjoy!
Classroom reward puzzles- must-haves for the classroom

What Are Your Teacher Must-Haves For The Classroom?

There you have it… my list of 15 teacher must-haves for the classroom and 15 classroom supplies that you can skip and save your money, space, and energy on!

Looking for more recommendations for must-haves for the classroom to use for back to school and math stations? Check out these blog posts and resources:

Let me know in the comments below what you would add to this “buy it or skip it” list!

teacher must-haves for the classroom math stations
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