Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who Needs Oprah?!!

Every December, I get together with a group of girlfriends for a "My Favorite Things" Party.  It's a form of Oprah's favorite things without the Oprah.  We set a limit of $25 and bring a basket of our favorite things.  Then, we number each bag.  One by one we pick a number, and that's the basket you get.  As you open your gift bag/basket, the maker of the basket explains each item and tells why it's their favorite thing.  Let me tell ya, you find out a lot about your friends at this kind of party!

So, having just been to the party a couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking about what some of my favorite things are in my classroom.  What are the things that make me smile, make life a little bit easier, or just fit a need perfectly?  I went around my classroom yesterday and took some pictures of my favorite things.  You won't find any raindrops and roses here, but a bunch of stuff I like.  I don't claim they will change your life, but they make me happy!

If possible, I've linked to where I purchased the items.
So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite (school) things!

Collapsing Baskets

I love these baskets.  They are from the dollar store, which is a good thing considering how many I have bought over the years!  What I love about them is that they are collapsible.  The ones I'm not using stack neatly on a shelf saving so much space.  For a dollar, they are pretty sturdy.   And, they come in bright primary colors.  Sadly, I only ever see them right before school starts.  I'm sort of addicted because I always buy more even if I don't need them.

Giant Fun Paperclips
These are another dollar store find.  These clips are huge.  Here's a picture with a pencil for some perspective.
These are great for marking your place in those big teacher's guides they give us.  I also use them in workbooks to keep my place.  The tops are made of some sort of soft-ish rubber.  That's the part that sticks right out of the top of the book.  My favorite is the one that says, "World's Best Grandpa" because it always makes my friends laugh.  I just tell them,"Yes, I am the worlds greatest grandpa!"

Subject Binder Clips
I saw these in Lakeshore Learning and bought both sets.  These aren't all that come in the sets.  One set is all school subjects while the other set is task oriented stuff like make copies.  I don't see them on the Lakeshore site, but you really don't need to buy these.  They are super easy to make.  In the past, I've made them to hold my state testing materials.  I made them hot pink so I could easily see it when it was in a file folder.  Just print out what you want them to say on three small slips of paper and tape it on.  

My Stolen Music Stand!
Okay, I admit it.  This is a sort of stolen item.  I asked the custodian if there were any spare music stands in the building one day a few years back, and he brought me one.  It was black, dirty, and ugly.  The crafty me took it home, spray painted it a kicky blue, and ta da!  It was only after the fact that I found out it wasn't an extra, however since I had painted it blue the music teachers could no longer use it and I got to keep it!
This is truly one of my favorite things!  I'm not much of a sitter in the classroom so this makes a great place to rest my materials as I'm teaching.  It raises and lowers, so it's perfect for my friends.  We  use it as a podium for author's celebrations. It's also easy to move around, nice and light weight.  I'm so glad I painted it blue!

Thank You Cards
I ordered these cards from Vistaprint.com after seeing them on another teacher blog.  If you don't know Vistaprint, go visit.  They offer lots of free printable items where you only have to pay shipping.  These are postcards with envelopes.  As a teacher, you know we write tons of thank you notes.  These are perfect!  You can design the front to say anything you want, so they don't have to be thank you cards.  You could use them as "good job" post cards for your friends or anything else you can think of.

Poly Folders
I use these for absolutely everything.  I will throw papers I need to grade with a pen in one for easy transporting.  I like that I can see right through them and see exactly what's inside.  I sometimes keep work of different subjects in separate folders.  And, much like my MacGyver-Like Storage Solution  these are easily hole-punched on the accordion side and slipped into a binder for extra storage.  I order mine from School Specialty Catalog with my school order every year, but I know you can always get them at Staples.

A Lovely Pencil Holder
What can I say?  I like pretty!  This cup sits on my desk to hold all my pens, markers, scissors, etc.  And, it's HUGE!  It holds a ton as you can see.  Perhaps the best part, besides the fact that it is pretty, is this. . .

I'll take pretty for $3.99 any day!

Magazine Storage Boxes
I wrote about these and linked to them in this post.  They are from Ikea.  At first, I was worried they wouldn't be sturdy enough to last, but no problems so far.  One of the things I did was to put a strip of book tape on the bottom of each box for extra support.    My friends use them to store their reading books, and I have a set behind my meeting table for my guided reading groups.  Can you tell they got to select the name of their group? :-)  I love these because they are colorful, pretty durable, and super cheap.

Mr. Sketch Scented Markers

Oh my golly!  Do I love these!  They write nicely. The colors are bright and they smell yummy.  It's all I can do to not sniff them as I write with them.  Trust me, if my friends weren't sitting in front of me, I would be sniffing away.  Thank goodness they are non-toxic!  Also, when I come home with multicolored hands from writing anchor charts, it washes off.  Amazon has them, but you can get them almost everywhere around my area.

Picture Book Stand

Hold on to your shorts, because you won't believe the deal I got on this.  I went in to my local Goodwill, and there it was.  Just waiting for me.  In perfect condition.  I didn't even look at the price.  I just grabbed the clerk and had him haul it to the register for me.  It was a whopping $6.99!  Wait!  It gets better!  It was half off, so I only paid $3.50 for it!  I still get happy just thinking about it!  The funny thing was the Goodwill clerks had no idea what it was.  I had to explain that it was used to store big books.  I then had to explain what big books were.  Sometimes I forget that I don't live in a world where everyone is a teacher. ;-)  By the time I was explaining my plan to  use it for picture books, they had lost interest. 

So, those are just a few of my favorite things.  There are so many more I could add, but I'm sure you get the idea.  If you have a blog, I hope you do a favorite things post.  If you do, leave a comment on this post so we can check it out.  I would love to hear what your favorite things are.

Tomorrow, I have a post about a fun review game that can be used for any subject.  See you then!

(By the way, I usually post at night Eastern time,
so when I say tomorrow don't look for the new post too early!)


  1. Wow! What a great post!! I love so many of the items you spotlighted...I'm going to have to get those awesome clips from Lakeshore! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Teaching First

  2. I love your music stand...I might have to keep my eyes open for one!!!!

  3. Nancy:
    Here's another reason why I like your site... Apparently we have similar tastes... See:


    And, I have clear poly folders and colored ones because I often categorize by color.
    Too funny!

    Always fun to visit your blog...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  4. Hi Nancy, I just found your blog though pinterest. I am a school librarian and beginning my own blog for many of the same reasons that you blog. I love your photos of your authentic work with students. Which photostream site do you use to upload your photos to? I have pictures floating on my phone, work camera, personal camera and not sure where to dump them for ease of retrieval and posting. Thanks! Leslie