Classroom Must Haves: Things I Can't "Picture" Myself Teaching Without

Guess what! I've joined the outstanding collaborative blog, Upper Elementary Snapshots! I've admired this blog since its beginning and I'm really excited to contribute. Plus, I'll still be blogging here at The Thinker Builder, too!

The bloggers at Upper Elementary Snapshots are teaming up to share some classroom must-haves. You know, things we can't "picture" ourselves without. (Get it, picture... Upper Elementary Snapshots... clever, huh?)

Plus, be sure to read to the end of the post to see how to collect lots of "Must Have" freebies!

Here are a few of my classroom must-haves:

One-Touch Power Stapler

Sure, the school workroom has some big honkin' staplers, but the year I splurged and bought a power stapler, well, my life changed.

I became a full-fledged stapling ninja. No more jams, no more treks down to the workroom to staple a booklet or a packet. I just pulled out my One-Touch Paper Pro and went to it. (I also may or may not have feigned super-human strength to my class by stapling a dozen pages at once using only my pinkie finger.)

This compact, 15-sheet capacity Paper Pro Stapler you see below has some fun colors! 
*affiliate link

The power stapler... it's a game-changer.

Lawn Boy  by Gary Paulsen

I almost went with Because of Winn Dixie for my choice here. (Love that book, but you probably live under a rock if you don't already know about Winn Dixie.) Lawn Boy, however, you might not know as much about.

Lawn Boy is fuh-nny. Like really funny. It's a departure from Gary Paulsen's nature-driven earlier books, like Hatchet, yet still such an entertaining read aloud, and always a student favorite.
*affiliate link

It's the story of a kid who "inherits" his grandfather's old riding lawnmower and begins mowing his neighbors' lawns, soon finding himself waist-deep in the "beauty of capitalism" (as his hippie stockbroker would say).

I always read Lawn Boy during or after our Economics Unit because it's such a fun way to put the concepts and principles we learn into a context students can relate to and understand.

Reader's Notebook for Informational Text

My reader's notebook resources are lifesavers. I'm not in the classroom this year, but when I was, I used these Response Pages for Informational Text ALL. THE. TIME (as well as my Response Pages for Literature). They are versatile, differentiated, and with a "snappy little notebook" design, kids think it's fun filling them out.

The pages so easily align to the curriculum and Common Core standards I already had to teach, and they include three levels of differentiation so I could meet the needs of all my students.

The resource includes response pages on recording facts and information, interpreting ideas, summarizing and synthesizing, vocabulary, text features, text structures, note-taking, and an entire research-guide component.

Click the image above for details!

Story Starters {Not Your Ordinary Writing Prompts!}

My story starters are a go-to resource to get students writing, and writing a lot. With each story starter I created, my underlying goal was to give the student who reads it the undeniable urge to finish the story. To be unable to walk away. To be inspired enough that he or she simply must write the rest of the story.

Juices flowing, wheels turning, synapses firing, eyes darting all over... I've seen that look in students' eyes after hearing or reading one. Here, see for yourself...

Doesn't that make you want to go write? Yeah, me too!

The laundromat photo in the Freebie includes three completely original, engaging story starters, plus a set of open-ended prompting questions. It comes in multiple formats, and includes fun writing paper too!

You can see my full line of story starter sets, one for each month, right HERE. Each set includes 10 photos and a total of 40 prompts. Or look into the full-year bundle right HERE.

Click the image below to download Freebie from my TeachersPayTeachers store!

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After you've downloaded my Story Starters Freebie above, be sure to visit each of the blogs below to add 12 more FREE RESOURCES to you own collection of things you can't picture yourself teaching without. Afterwards, swing by our collaborative blog, Upper Elementary Snapshots, for lots of great content and ideas you can put into practice in your own classrooms!