School Supplies - What Teachers Really Want!

Are you ready for Back-to-School Shopping?
I was clicking around some sites yesterday searching for a supply of film canisters (which, by the way, are hard to find) and happened upon a blog post.

The site I found was all about supplies teachers might need. 
Most of the items were just things teachers would buy for their own use- like razor blades, rubber bands, and glue guns.
But looking over the list I couldn't help but think about my last visit to the Dollar Tree.

Before you go shopping for school supplies- think about what you really need and what is really needed in the classroom. Those cute Trapper Keepers with the all-around zippers might be what your kids are screaming for, but they don't fit in most desks! Check this blog post for more!


Mind you, I love the Dollar Tree.
But not for school supplies.

I watched a mom, with list in hand, picking out things for her child. I wanted to pull her aside and tell her some things, but some people don't take to strangers very well.
So, I decided to write a blog post about it.

Subtitle: Why You Should Buy School Supplies at Wal-Mart. (or Target)

Before I start, let me just tell you that I have seen so many things come in with school supplies at the beginning of the year. This post is from the teacher's point of view and is just suggestions of things that we need to see- even if your little sweet ones really, really want those glitter covered sparkly mechanical pencils that have poms poms tied to the eraser......


Pencils
School Supplies: Teachers really, really want the good pencils, the nice yellow ones and pre-sharpened if at all possible. Not the pencils covered with glitter..... check this blog post for more ideas!

Let's talk about the $1 pencils. They are colorful and have funny things written on them, or Spiderman. But when you sharpen them you will find that the colorful covering is paper and it will fray and peel off.

Teachers really want you to buy the YELLOW pencils. 
And, if you could, please sharpen them at home and send them ready to go.
It's an extra expense, but get the good yellow pencils. The store brands won't sharpen. (I have also discovered that the black Ticonderoga pencils are the best ones ever. The erasers last longer than the pencils!)


Composition Notebooks
School Supplies: If composition notebooks are on your list, get the plain ones, with lined pages, and no characters on the front. Check this blog post to find out why!
If this is on your school supply list, wait for a sale. Wal-mart and Target have these for 50 cents all the time. Walgreens has them for 25 cents sometimes. Staples had them for 10 cents!!!Those places have them with colorful covers.
At the Dollar Tree they are always black and they cost $1.
One more hint: The composition notebook with the Frozen characters on the cover outlined in glitter are probably the ones that your daughter will beg for- don't fall for this. Get the solid color, no glitter version. Think about it- in three months your child will be in love with a new character and her teacher will be so glad when everything is not covered with glitter.....
but the real reason to get the plain ones is this: Not every child is going to come in with the fancy ones covered with My Little Pony and the matching bookmarks. It really is better if the notebooks are mostly the same.
(Same thing with pocket folders- get the solid colored ones with the metal fasteners and pockets.) 


Colored Pencils
School Supplies: If colored pencils are on your list get the good ones! A box of 24 is a spectacular purchase! Check this blog post for more ideas!
Oh my.
I love colored pencils.
In my third grade classroom we used these all the time- for graphs, maps, small diagrams, note-taking, coloring. I have so many it takes two plastic school boxes to hold them. I don't let kids use my personal stash, unless they need the gold or silver colors.

You can buy a set at the dollar store. They are pretty worthless. The coloring part will not stay sharp. It's waxy and won't color the same. The box only has 12 colors and it's $1.
Again, watch for a sale. You can get a box of 12 at WM for 77 cents. That's the good brand- Rose-Art and for a little more you can get Crayola. And for about another $2 you can get the box of 24 which is the ideal set to have. It has more colors, like pink and gray!

Crayons!
School Supplies: Get the size box that is on your list! And get the good crayons- they color better! More ideas about supplies on this blog post!
Same as colored pencils. The dollar store box is worthless. The crayons are just different.
I watched that mom at the DS the other day loading up on $1 crayons.
The good Crayolas were 25 cents that day at WM.

Off topic: When you were little did any of you ever have the box with 96 crayons and the little sharpener in the back of the box? Just makes you want to color to have all those choices and those neat little rows. I immediately organized my big box by color. (I was OCD even when little). 

Anyway, my point about the BIG BOX is this: DON'T buy it.
When teachers ask for a box of 24, please get a box of 24. We don't have room for the giant boxes. The giant boxes only cause conflicts because when we color everyone does not have the macaroni and cheese color and they all wait to borrow it from the one kid that does.
Get the box of 24 on sale for 25 cents if that is the size the teacher has requested.
If your child wants the larger box, go ahead and get one- just get the smaller box to send to school. That's a win-win!



Mechanical pencils......
School Supplies: For elementary school, please don't get these! They are such great toys, but that's about it! More supply ideas on this blog post!
No.
They take them apart. 
They drop the lead. 
The lead gets squashed by their feet and ground into the floor.
Just regular old yellow pencils.

YELLOW.
Moms and dads, those sparkly pencils covered with glitter with ribbons tied around the eraser are truly beautiful.
But the glitter falls off onto their papers and desks. The ribbon unravels. 
Plain yellow pencils- pre-sharpened- are so much better. I promise.

Now, mind you, I did allow a mechanical pencil for one very special occasion.
In my third grade class this was called : THE DAY WE START WRITING IN CURSIVE!
On that day I gave out MAGIC pencils. We used them only for writing in cursive. I told the kids the pencils had mystical powers and would make their o and a travel in the correct direction and join nicely with no loops......
Again, get those mechanicals for use at home, but at school, I promise, they are only trouble!



BINDERS
School Supplies: If a binder is on your list, pay attention to its description.. Get the size listed and check to see if it has insertable pockets, three rings, and is easy for your child to snap open! More supply ideas on this blog post!
Oh the choices are so delicious. Target has gorgeous binders with soft pretty colors and I LOVE them.
I even bought one  and then found it had no inside pocket or insert-able plastic cover. The $1 store might have the right binder with pockets and maybe even the insert covering.
Get the size that is listed on the supply list. I promise , that size is on the list for a reason. It's all about space!

Anyway, whatever you do with binders here's the ONE THING no teacher, ever wants, likes, needs......
IT"S CALLED A TRAPPER KEEPER
OR
ZIPPERED BINDER!
This was a good idea for about 15 minutes and may still work for upper level kids. But in my elementary classroom this monstrous thing would not even fit in desks- it took fifteen minutes to unzip- things do not fit inside it the way we needed- the zippers got stuck-ughghghghghgh!


Well, okay, I am sure my word count is getting quite high in this post so I will leave you with this advice if you are out school supply shopping:

Get exactly what is on the list. Don't get a larger notebook cause it's on sale. There is probably a reason the teacher wants a small one.
Shop the sales. You will save more money that way than being fooled by the $1 store.
If you can afford it, buy a few extra folders and notebooks and pencils. Send them in a separate bag on the first day with a note letting the teacher know the stuff is for a child that didn't have what they needed. It happens.

Do you any more hints we all need to know about?

6

Five Random Things to Think About!

Also Known as 
Five for Friday!

If you read my post from earlier this week you know that your blog title is important.
So I played with this one a little.....read that silly post {HERE}. It was fun!

Also, very fun is:




My fav Friday thing to do (well I also love going to the Dairy Queen every Friday.....)
Thanks Doodle Bugs!

This Five for Friday is going to be all questions!
Yep, things to ponder....


Do you use a clip chart in your classroom?

I created a science themed clip chart, printed it, laminated, attached it to foam board, and it's ready to hang.
I just don't know how to use it!
I only see kids for an hour. Clipping up or down in that short time span is likely, but I'm not sure how to handle the consequences.

I decided to read more about it and I found some great links to sites that say Don't Use a Clip Chart and some that say Do!

Photobucket
I know you guys know A Teeny Tiny Teacher! I really like the system Kristin uses. She does not use a clip chart! Click on her button to see the post.

The Teaching Thief
Amanda uses a Clip Chart and this link has a graph she uses with her students to help them set goals based on their clip ups or clip downs. Click on her button to see her plan.

So, do you use a clip chart?
I'm still undecided- even though I have a spectacular clip chart created! 



Have you started working on the new school year yet??

I have been to school a little every day and worked on a few things. Yesterday I replaced the tennis balls on all the stool legs in my lab. I went with felt fabric attached with a rubber band. We shall see how it goes!

This is not my classroom, but it is what my stool legs look like now:
I used 7 different colors of felt- a different color for each lab table. I like color coding things....

While I was looking for ideas for the stool legs I did find this:
Made me laugh!

What do you use on your chair legs to prevent scuffs and noise?


What is THE best thing you did for yourself this summer?

For me it's this:

I have reached an age where the clock is ticking, friends. The hubs and I have to slow down and soak up the days we have left. We spend far too much time trying to reach the next milestone and we need to enjoy the journey more.
So, next weekend we are taking a road trip. The plan is to go to Chattanooga and then south into Georgia. The hubs is a Civil War Nut  Enthusiast so we are going to Chickamauga first. It's the site of a famous battle. After that we have about 4 Georgia state parks picked out to hike in and visit waterfalls. Just enjoy being out and doing nothing.
And, yes, it will be the weekend before school starts.
The school will still be there when I return.


Do you have a pet?
If not then you will enjoy
Cat Facts of the Week!

Fact 1:
You can spend lots of money on cat toys.
But it is not necessary.

Cats will play with a dish towel for lots longer than those feathered mice.

Fact 2:
Even a baby cat knows there is something great to eat inside the refrigerator.
They also know that if they sit in front of the fridge for long enough and meow with a pitiful squeak that some human will indeed open  the door and give them something.

Mind you, there is a FULL bowl of food sitting 12 inches away.....



Where are you in your Education Adventure?

Every school year we have a huge gathering of every teacher in the school system. Our superintendent talks and we have a motivational speaker and  I am sure you have something similar.
So, every year the super will ask new teachers to stand.  We all clap and then they sit down. Then he will ask teachers with 1-5 years experience to stand. We clap and they sit down.  He continues this until he reaches the 30 year mark.
When would you stand up?

For me it's the 30+.
Shocking, I know.

Just this week I had a retired teacher say these words to me,"Don't you just love the days when you are getting your classroom ready for a new year?" She went on to explain that those were always her favorite days. Getting ready for a new year was fresh, and sparkling, and you started with the same enthusiasm you had in the very beginning.  It was a joyful time with goals, and plans, and new ideas running through your head. Every year brought something new. What other job can do that?

Indeed.
We are so lucky to be educators.

Have a great weekend, friends!


11

How to Be the Perfect Blogger

Well, I was clicking around  last night....just following links and stumbled upon a blog post that was all about ways to write the perfect blog post.

Well, I read about a third of it and then dashed off to create a poster....
cause I like to make posters.



So, stick around and see what you think!

According to the article I read (and you can find it right {HERE}) there are
SEVEN ESSENTIALS.

ESSENTIAL THING #1:

Friends, you must have the perfect title. Only 2 out of 10 people will keep reading after they read your title, unless it is perfect.
People tend to skim and they will see the first three words and the last three words and then move on- unless you catch their attention.

So, I'm guessing this title is a no-no:

"Tried It Tuesday! A Combo Pack and a Powerpoint Tip"

Well, that is one of my titles and that page has had 5000 views.....


Anyway... the point of this suggestion is to craft a title like you teach your students to craft the opening sentence of something they are writing.


I guess that's why this title:
"Some Truth and Some Spaghetti!" 

has had 7500 views.....course this photo probably helped .....




ESSENTIAL THING #2

 You should begin a post with a story or personal anecdote. I guess that makes people find common ground and keep reading cause they want to hear more. 

So, I found this post.

It's called "Missing a Regular Classroom".
It's all about how I miss reading to kids cause I don't do that very much in the science lab. I included a lot of comments about books I love:


It's a poignant post that makes me cry. Not many views, though.

Then I tried to find another  post that was more personal and at least started with a story. A favorite is from a year ago where the whole post was the story of moving my classroom.




That little cart carried my stuff from my old third grade room to my new giant science lab. It took about 10,000 trips. It's a great post {HERE} but has less than 100 views. Wonder what that means??


ESSENTIAL THING #3
Your first paragraph should have fewer letters per line. Maybe include a photo on the side. The article says this tricks your brain and makes you read into the post faster. The author even suggests that you trick people by using a bigger font in the beginning- to make shorter lines.

Hmmmm......I make shorter lines
by
doing
this.
Pretty annoying, right!?


ESSENTIAL THING #4
Make Subheadings. Cause people scan and look for the sections they like best.

I have nothing for this. Sorry. No advice. 

Oh wait. I do make subheadings all the time.
And I change their color.
I usually make them red.

ESSENTIAL THING #5

The article says that blog posts of 1500 or less words get more views.
Holy Cow! Does this guy know me?
I bet I never have less than that!
How on earth can you find out how many words you have??

I decided I needed to find out. So, I picked a post that I thought was rather long. I copied the post into a Word Document and found that its word count was 943. It was my Guest Blog Post about STEM:




and I thought it was too long! But 943 is good, right?

So I tried another one!
I picked it because I remember it being lengthy and it has tons of views.
It's a great post about things I have learned over  the years but it only had
720 words.

So I think I'm doing okay on the wordiness essential thing.

My posts look longer because I use a lot of photos.


ESSENTIAL THING #6

Have a featured image at the beginning. Well, jeez I do that all the time!
I start posts with a funny picture! (It's all about grabbing your attention.)



You know you have seen the picture right here on this little blog.
It made you laugh too. Ha!

ESSENTIAL THING #7
Have something people can quote.
Wow, I am failing on that one.
But I do post things that you can PIN!
Isn't that almost the same thing!???

Now I know that is THE SEVEN THINGS, but you are not going to believe this. The guy adds a few more.
We are going to call these BONUS THINGS!


BONUS THING #1
Include links.
Are you kidding me. That's like Blogger 101. Go back and count the links in this post.
Go ahead.
I counted TEN. That includes the photos that are linked to something.

BONUS THING #2
Have some great visual content.
That means photos.
I got this one!


That's my cat, Wookee, sitting in the dishwasher.
Great visual, right?

BONUS THING #3

Include social media buttons.
Teacher friends, I think we are the experts on this one. And if you need any help go watch my video.




BONUS THING #4
This one had something to do with searchable links and it was too technical for me. 

Well, there you have it.

So, I think in the end what counts in a blog post is that you are yourself. People read your stuff cause it's funny or informative or teaches you something.
Or you find a picture you can pin.

So, what do you think? What makes a blog post great?


Hope you are having a great week.

See you for Five for Friday.
With a perfect blog post!
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