Monday, August 26, 2013

Supplies for Students

In most schools, students supply their own classroom materials like paper, pens and notebooks.  But what about things like staplers and three-hole punches?  What if they forget their pencil?

I personally don't have a lot of supplies available on hand for students.  I do have a heavy-duty three-hole punch, a stapler, and an electronic pencil sharpener for every day use.  There's sets of markers, colored pencils, crayons, rulers and glue for when we do crafts or posters in class.  I even have a class set of highlighters since that's a surprisingly uncommon thing for students to have, even if you ask them to buy one and bring it to class.  As we use them, the students become familiar with what's there for them to use and where it all is.

Whatever you do or don't make available for your students, try to keep it all in the same place.  Let them know that this is the area where their supplies are, and keep that area distinct from your desk space.  There's a whole filing cabinet by the door that has these supplies for them - all drawers clearly labeled.  My desk is off limits to them - I have my own stapler, three-hole punch, etc for my use and they have their own in the student area for theirs.  This keeps students from thinking they can come up to your desk and take things off.  While a few missing paper clips aren't a big deal, there's that separation of space that makes sure they don't take anything they really shouldn't.
Student area for supplies - all in one spot!
One thing I do supply that I know a lot of teachers don't are pens and pencils.  Not a lot, and certainly not enough for each student in each class.  I have a set of 12 pens and/or pencils that's available for all students to use whenever they forget theirs or need a different color pen.  I tell the kids that these are the ONLY pens/pencils I'm providing for the WHOLE year.  Their responsibility is to use them as needed, then return them.  Once all 12 disappear, that's it.  And yes, I warn them, they do have a tendency to disappear throughout the year.

To make it more obvious that students are actually borrowing one of "my" pens or pencils is I've taped spoons to the end.  This makes it visually more obvious to you that they're borrowing them, just in case they need a reminder to return it later.  It also makes it obvious for them - they're more likely to remember to return it since it's clearly not theirs.

Each year, I ask my brother to decorate the spoons for me.  He's been a good sport so far about it.  This year's theme appears to be the Watchmen, along with some Kick-Ass and Superman.  Last year was the Avengers and Mass Effect.

One thing I recommend if you decide to tape spoons (or forks or fake flowers or whatever) to the end of pencils: cut off the erasers!  If you leave them on, students will bend (and eventually end up breaking) the spoons to use the erasers.  I just cut them off, then save them in case a student needs them during a quiz or writing assignment.  When they complain, just remind them you're nice enough to have pencils for them!

What classroom supplies do you have available for student use?

- Frau Leonard


  1. This is a great idea! Love the superhero spoons.

    1. Luckily my brother's easily bribed into helping - the ones he draws are much nicer than the spoons I drew my first year. I believe they all had a smiley face with a squiggly line...