Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tackling a new supply list

Have you ever seen the supply list for your grade and thought, "Who decided we needed that and what the heck am I going to do with it?" Well I just had that moment.

Forgive me because I'm about to go on an "at my old school..." rant (anyone else thinking of Phoebe on The Magic School Bus???)

At my old school... We were responsible for creating our school supply list at the end of each year for the upcoming year. We would sit down and discuss what we really needed, what we didn't want, etc. Also, being a Title I low income school, our supply list had to be very short, and cost effective. So we got used to making do with less and being creative about how we use certain products.

I don't know if the teachers at my new school created this list or not. I'm assuming they did, why would an administrator make the supply lists for individual grade levels? That doesn't seem very effective. But when I asked a new teammate to email me a copy of the list she said something about not having it electronically, and it might take a few days for her to get her hands on it so she could scan it in or something. All that made it seem like they DIDN'T make their own supply list. Very confusing. Do you get to make your own supply list or does someone else make it for you? Am I completely off the mark here?

Anywhoo - I finally got the list and I'm starting to panic.

Why do they need that?

What am I going to be expected to do with that?

Where am I going to put those??

What am I going to do without ______?

These are the thoughts racing through my brain.

So here's the list. Pretty basic, but don't worry. I plan to go into excruciatingly boring detail about each one just for you.

OK. I know what you're thinking. "What's wrong with this?" Lets break it down, shall we?

Pencils - pretty standard. I like that they requested pre-sharpened, but I have serious doubts as to whether or now they will arrive at school that way...

Wide ruled filler paper - UUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH. What the heck do they use loose leaf paper for???? I haven't used this stuff even ONCE in all my years of teaching!! I actually had some donated by a well-meaning relative my very first year and it took me forever to get rid of it. I finally just dumped it in the recycling bin. Horrible, I know. I guess I can put it in the scrap paper bin for art during indoor recess.... What a waste.

4 Composition Books - FOUR?? Why FOUR?? I don't use these. Ever. I use a binder for word study, and we write on blank 5-page books for writing workshop, so what the heck am I going to do with these? Plus I'm planning on 28 students. That's 112 composition books! That takes up a lot of space! I was considering changing my homework routine this year and maybe I would use one composition book for each student for homework. Maybe. I was trying to go paper-less for homework. (More on that when I get it all figured out). But FOUR??? MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYBE I could use one as a math notebook, and another as a reading response journal but still. I really don't want 112 composition books sitting around my room. Any ideas?

4 Plastic 2-Pocket Folders - I don't use these either. I can guess what they want them for... Many years ago we (my old school team) had these on our list as well. Each folder was for unfinished and/or important papers for a specific subject. But what I realized is that the folders just became little recycling bins. They encouraged kids to stuff more and more paper into their desks while completely forgetting to re-visit them. Then I switched to just one folder. The "To-Do" folder. Which was where kids put any work that needed more time for completion. But again, this folder just seemed to be a black hole of unfinished work that was never seen or heard from again. So I did away with that folder too. And I noticed that without the option of saving work for later, I had  A LOT less unfinished assignments and lost work. If it's not an option to finish it later, you're more likely to get it done on time. There may be one or two students who need a "To-Do" folder, but that doesn't warrant asking for 112 of them. Right? Anyone?

1 Box of 16 Crayons - Who are we kidding? No one buys boxes of 16 crayons anymore. The smallest size I have ever seen was 24. Most kids bring in the box of 50 or 100 that gets shoved into the desk, disintegrates, and then you have 23 different versions of the color yellow-green floating around in there. Here comes Phoebe again... At my old school, we didn't even put crayons on the supply list. We bought the crayons ahead of time with grade-level money. Which is how I could get these table caddies set up ahead of time:

1 Large White Eraser - What's wrong with the pink erasers? I'm sure little Johnny will bring his transformers eraser whether or not "white" is specified.

1 Pencil Box - This is pretty much the only thing on this list that I would consider a "must-have," and strangely enough, it seems to be the item that is most frequently forgotten. Where do parents expect them to keep all these little odds-and-ends? If nothing else.... please bring a pencil box!

12 glue sticks - I stopped using these last year and switched to glue bottles after giving them the clog-free treatment. Which I have to say I like a lot better than glue sticks. I'm probably the only teacher out there who prefers liquid glue, but I swear I'm not crazy. I specifically trained my kids how to use the glue and I didn't have any problems. Glue sticks however are my kryptonite. The caps are always disappearing, they dry out, sometimes they don't work at all... To each  his own I suppose.

1 Pair of Scissors - This is something else we pre-purchased for our classes. Which is why they are all exactly the same in the picture of my table caddies above. Which prevents problems in my opinion. Oh well. I will just have them put their Hello Kitty scissors in their Power Rangers pencil boxes with their Lalaloopsy erasers and 500 composition books and 315 folders in their desks. Oh and the crayons. Don't forget the crayon box with the crayon "sharpener" on the side. That too.

Sandwich and Gallon size Ziploc Bags - I know I'm just being picky here but I prefer quart-sized... OK, OK, I'm just looking for something to complain about. The Ziploc bags are fine.

So what about you? Do you get to choose the items on your list? What do you do with the stuff your teammates may want but you don't? Am I just being paranoid by worrying about the composition books and loose-leaf paper? Feel free to rescue me from torturing myself.


  1. K Mo,
    I can so relate! At my school each grade level creates their own list, but I am often the odd man (person) when it comes to creating a list. For example, we have paper towels on our list. Sounds good, but when you consider that I will have 26 students that is 26 rolls of paper towels. Plus many families purchase the three roll pack. Where will I store all of these rolls?!?

    So here is what I do: at my school supplies don't usually show up until the second week of school. So as soon as I have my class list, I send home a letter with my supply list. I graciously accept all supplies that have already been purchased. I explain that we now have enough paper towels for the year, thank you so much, but we could use more whatever. But it always bothers me that parents are spending their money and their time on items we don't all need.

  2. I laughed the whole time as I read this!! Yes I hate those lists! My school makes ours and to be honest I've never seen this list! I guess the children get them mailed mid summer. But its super annoying when children are coming in with a million composition books, binders, crayons, markers, colored pencils, index cards and the whole darn Walmart or Target. Most times I just send home what they dont need and tell them to keep it to help with their homework. Especially those mechanical pencils! (which I am banning from my room this year. I had enough of the fights about whose lead belongs to who..really?!! How about we just throw it out the window and then no one will have lead) whoosh!!! Thanks for that! Thats why I love Bloggy world! only a teacher would understand!

    On that note...Dont forget to join my Erin Condren Giveaway!
    Sending Tons of Teacher Love Your Way,


    Second Grade Serenade

    1. My favorite is when they run out of lead and come to me asking if they can have some of mine. Then when I tell them no, they tell me there's some in my desk drawer. Sheesh. :)

      Teach On.

  3. I was chuckling the entire time I was reading your rant because I had the same one a few nights ago. I moved buildings last year and had the same feeling you did. We have a PTA deal where kids can purchase their supplies through the PTA and the organization gets a portion of the proceeds. Well, I finally got a look at the list for next year and I had the same reaction as you! We have hand sanitizer on our list. Really??? It's called soap and water. I think sanitizer is way over used and have not had it as a choice in my classroom for almost 5 years and everything has worked out. What am I going to do with 22 bottles of it? We also have 4 notebooks and I am a binder person. The poor parents are spending over $75 on stuff the kids don't really need. I also have a class set of scissors and the gluestick overload drives me crazy. ANNNNDDDDDD there isn't a toolbox on the list. So, I end up buying them for my kids. I'm told I can add to the list, but really, I can't do it to the parents. So, in the end, I spend my own money :( Good luck with your list! I'm going to try and figure out what to do with 4 yellow folders...


    Leaping into Teaching

  4. Perhaps you teach on a new team that has a plan for all of those supplies. I remember when I began teaching elementary school, I had a teammate who was...well, we'll say a Type-A personality. She had her prized list and knew exactly what she wanted to do with those white erasers. I came from Middle School where kids kept their supplies in lockers and big, huge binders.

    Fast forward to Elementary School. It's sooooooo different! I am departmentalized and honestly after 7 years of being in an elementary lists still don't make sense to me. I teach in a Title 1 school, so I'm lucky to get about 1/2 of them. Plus, we have a huge foster child population - they come and go, often without a pencil or a folder. I need those paper towels, but I never get enough tissue. I bargain with teachers, "I'll trade you two bottles of sanitizer for a box of tissue and a pack of pencils?"

    Our list is made by the district - it stinks! But again, I buy most of the scissors, glue and huge erasers.


  5. We have the same. exact. second grade supply list. Being that we're in the same district, I have to believe that list comes from SOMEWHERE and just gets put out. I'm so annoyed that we are going to end up with things we don't need and are going to have to pay out of pocket for stuff that we do.

  6. I feel your pain with not having a say in your supply list. Last year was my first year in a new district and I have no clue what the teacher who put the list together was thinking!

    I used the notebook paper for spelling practice and scratch paper. The kids made some crazy "inventions" with the notebook paper during inside recess.

    As for the composition books, I used one for a science journal. Since they are hard, they're great for science lessons outside. My kids had an "I wonder..." science question of the week. They predicted the answer, then journaled throughout the science lessons as they changed their thinking and misconceptions.

    I was so happy to make my own supply list this year :)Best of luck with your school year!!

  7. We have a say in our school supply list. Each team revises the list from the previous year. This year we have tons of large manila paper and were bought class sets of rulers so we took those off the list. I am also a bottle glue, no glue stick person. I always trade with my team at the end of the year. This year most of my kids used only 1 out of 4 of the requested glue sticks, but as always we ran out of white glue.

    I am having the same issues you are though because I moved to a new grade level and had nothing to do with making the list. However, I am on a fabulous team and they will help me I am certain.

    We use 6 journals a year (sometimes more). We have homework, math, science, social studies, reader's response, and free time. I use 2 folders for center work (1 reading, 1 math) because they staple and turn in all their work together on Fridays. I use another folder that we label "project". This is not for daily work, but any extended projects that have multiple parts over multiple days. Our other folder was used for home/school communication. It is a school wide thing where we put a behavior chart on one side and graded work/notes on the other.

    The thing that cracks me up about my list right now is the fact that they ask for 1 red pen. I can understand wanting/using one, but really a kid is going to keep up with one red pen all year???? There is a reason we ask for several dozen pencils.

  8. Holy moly, I hear ya. At our school, each team revises the supply list each year, so we alternate b/t sandwich baggies and gallon baggies one year to the next, take things off we don't need anymore, etc. We use the composition books for Science Journal, and we added a 2nd one this year because we are doing Reading Response Journals. I always have a Spelling notebook, and I staple a baggie to the inside cover, where they keep their weekly word sorts (we use Words Their Way). Really you could just use the composition books for whatever you normally use spirals for, they just don't lie flat very well. :/

    We have a Take Home Folder that holds their monthly behavior calendar on the left and notes/graded papers on the right, and it goes home daily. We also have a "Stay at school folder" that holds unfinished work or daily work, but I completely agree about the folder turning into a giant trash folder. :( Still haven't figured out how to rid my classroom of what I call the "desk stuffers."

    Good luck! Maybe ask your team what they use each folder and composition book for--they may have a plan...??? :)

    Teach On.

  9. I am hoping to have my own classroom this fall (also in Northern Virginia) and will have no idea what to do with some of the items on the supply list. I do know that a lot of the schools in my county now like to use interactive notebooks for each subject. I have a lot to learn!

  10. I am a first year teacher that had to make my list, what an overwhelming process! I gave my AP my suggestions and she typed it up. I saw the list today and there is a typo on it! I asked for one bottle of hand sanitizer (required by school) and the list says four! I really hope that parents do not bring in that many bottles!
    Sweet Tea and Second Grade

  11. You're so funny! I can totally relate! One of the things on our list is hand sanitizer. First of all, I have a sink and soap in the room. Plus, on the first day of school I end up with about 5 gallon size (big, anyway) bottles of it along with tons of small bottles. Even if I did want the stuff, do I need 10 bottles? At the end of the day all of it goes on a shelf in the supply room in the office. Bye, bye hand sanitizer!
    First Grade Found Me

  12. I also feel your pain!! ;) I hate wasting school supplies and feel soooo guilty when I see the leftovers at the end of the year! Here are a few suggestions...
    Composition book- (4 REALLY??!) use for an end of the year gift for the kids...use foam letters/designs to decorate and glue (NOT glue stick) haha to attach a note from you to the inside front cover. You can print out a bunch and just fill in the names. It could be their summer writing journal and they can bring it back to you the next year for a treat?! Another idea is use them as gifts for Mother's Day or a buddy (if you have older kids paired with your class) or a family journal. Possibly use as a personal dictionary...let the kids divide it up by letters (math lesson here!) of the alphabet and add spelling words, frequently misspelled words, words wall words, vocab etc...and keep in their desks to refer to.
    Plastic folders- have kids make each other a birthday card on their respective days and 3-hole punch the notes (or use the loose leaf paper!!!!!!!) and tie with ribbon for a bday gift the kids LOVE!
    Crayons- you CAN have too many crayons! On a rainy day have kids peel and sort- melt/mix for art center!
    Just a few thoughts! Have a great year! :)