An apple sits on top of school books

School Supplies Every Teacher Should Keep On-Hand

Students obviously need to bring school supplies to class, but don’t forget that you, as a teacher, need to as well! Whether it’s supplies for forgetful students or tools for educational activities, here’s a list of things your classroom should never be without.

Pens and Pencils

If you had a dime for every time a student forget to bring a writing utensil (even in high school!), you would never have to work another day in your life. Keep a stash of cheap pens and pencils on-hand for those forgetful students, but you probably want to attach a flower or a feather to them so students remember to give them back.


In addition to writing utensils, you also should keep some notebook and printer paper on-hand. Lined paper will come in handy for pop quizzes, and printer paper is great for arts and crafts days for younger students.


Schools are infamous for being breeding grounds for colds and other diseases, and most students are not responsible enough to bring their own pack of tissues. So, you should always have two or three boxes spread around the classroom for sneezy kids to use.

Hand Sanitizer

While hand-washing is the ideal way to prevent disease, it’s not always a realistic option for 20 or more children. Bottles of hand sanitizer provide a good, cheap alternative and may help your class stay healthy.


Everyone knows those little erasers on the end of pencils are almost completely worthless, but having the option of using a big, pink eraser can prevent a lot of frustration in your students (and you).

Art Supplies

If you have a little extra classtime or want your students to express their creativity, you will have nearly endless arts and crafts options with some markers, colored pencils, watercolors, scissors, and construction paper in the classroom.


Elementary school teachers should keep a variety of allergy-friendly snacks on-hand, like low-fat granola bars, gluten-free cookies, and dried fruit in case one child forgets to bring something for snack time (or in case you get hungry during snack time; you never know).


Nothing motivates a group of young kids quite like prizes. They don’t even have to be expensive prizes! Pick up some bouncy balls, miniature stuffed animals, or decorative pencils, and you’ll never have to worry about your students not doing their daily activities again.

Board Games

There will be days when you don’t really want to do “lesson plan” stuff for an entire day, but you still want your students to learn. Give yourself a break and have the kids play educational games like (Junior) Trivial Pursuit, Scattergories, or (Junior) Scrabble.

Maps and Other Visual Aids

Up-to-date, colorful maps, posters, and other visual aids can pique an interest in geography and other subjects in some of your students. You can also incorporate the maps into activities, such as having students place pins (supervised, of course) to show where they’ve been in the U.S. and the world!

Last Updated: August 03, 2015