Top 10 Items for Your Elementary School Classroom

By Rebecca Field on September 29, 2016

By now you have your classroom running smoothly. Name tags are on the desks. The locker tags are up. All the important papers for the office have been checked off and turned in. Your specials have finally stopped changing and you know which day you have P.E., and which day you have Media. However, you might still be waiting for your science kits to get delivered. Or, maybe, you have no science materials to work with, and you’re finding all of your own ideas from NGSS, Pinterest, Teachers-Pay-Teachers, and, of course, AACT’s website. So what science supplies do you need to keep on hand in your classroom? What should you make sure you have in your closet or cupboards?

Here’s is my list of top 10 science-must-haves for your elementary classroom:

  1. Clorox Wipes
    Or whichever brand you prefer. The big idea is that you have some way of cleaning up messes—and science is messy. I am a neat freak and I can’t stand messes. But that’s OK, just have a way to clean it up.
  2. Paper Towels
    Sometimes the water spills or the egg gets dropped. Your classroom paper towels just don’t cut it! That is if you’re even lucky enough to have a paper towel dispenser in your room. You’ll need Bounty! Or a whole lot of Kleenex!
  3. Measuring Cups and Spoons
    You are probably NOT amazed at how many students don’t know how to cook or measure ANYTHING! I like to have a variety of measuring tools for the students to chose from. This gives them the opportunity to make precise choices. Hopefully, they’ll use what they learn when they cook!
  4. Plastic Spoons
    I can’t tell you how many times that I have used spoons in my classroom for just about everything from stirring to measuring to my own lunch when I forgot my spoon! Spoons are so useful!
  5. Cotton Balls
    They look cool as cloud models. You can grow seeds in them. Add googly eyes and they’re a Gerful (Bloom’s Taxonomy) or a Fuzzy. Cotton Balls are universally useful!
  6. Paper Cups or Ziploc Bags
    You will need to contain your activities or experiments or demos in something. Enter the cup or Ziploc Bag. If you’re making Flubber/Slime/Oobleck, you’ll have an air-tight way of storing it. If you’re mixing substances together you’ll your own “bowl.” A good tip is to ask for parents to donate these at the beginning of the year in any size. We’ll use them all.
  7. Q-Tips
    When you need to apply just a small amount of something, the Q-Tip is your friend. You can paint with it, spread things around, or build with it. Soft and sturdy! What more could you ask for?!
  8. Magnets
    Keep them away from your cell phone and computer! Otherwise, explore. What can you pick up? Can you sort with them? Can you make them an invisible force?
  9. White Glue
    I hit up office supply stores and grocery stores when there’s back-to-school sales. White glue can be used for all of your projects in school. You can make interactive notebooks, slime, and holiday gifts.
  10. Vinegar
    I know. The volcano. But, there are so many other uses. It can pickle an egg, it can dissolve a shell, it can clean a penny. And, if you like pickles, it’s just a yummy smell!

Bonus Items to Have (Because you can never have enough stuff in your cupboards!)

  • Baking Soda
    Yep, the volcano, again. But, it’s so much more. Want to make a rocket? Want to stop a sting or itch? Clean something? Baking soda will be used in your room!
  • Pipettes
    Do you have connections with a pharmacy? A high school teacher? Pipettes have a wide number of uses. This year I have an aeroponics tub in my classroom to go with my vermicomposting bins. All due to the generosity and inspiration of my local university, Saginaw Valley State University. I have to measure small amount of liquids, so I use my pipettes. They can also be used to drop soap into milk.
  • Food Coloring
    I couldn’t believe how often I used food coloring. It makes it so much easier to see reactions. It makes slime more colorful and Rainbow Milk more artsy!
  • Borax
    The first time I tried to find Borax, I actually had to ask for help. The poor clerk and I finally found it on the bottom shelf of the cleaning supplies. I’ve only purchased one box of it, and I’m still using it years later. We use it to make slime and test for acids and bases.

With these items you’ll be able to conduct just about any experiment you’d need for elementary school. Plus, you’ll probably find that a lot of your teaching friends will visit you when they need to borrow something. They’ll know you’re prepared and have all the goodies! Good luck and teach science with a smile!

Rebecca is a 5th grade Gifted and Talented teacher at Kolb Elementary School in Bay City, Michigan. She has been teaching for over 20 years. She has two curious children, Emma and Isaiah. She loves to read, and is addicted to Pinterest. She currently serves on the AACT governing board as Elementary School Ambassador.