My Back to School School Supplies

Back to School: 4 Ways to Get Ready and Save Money

Now is the time. I start back to school. So does my son. Lots of you will soon too. How do we get totally ready?

Start by making a list. But sometimes I don’t know everything that is out there. So, I headed down to my local Staples store in Albany, and my son and I did some shopping.

1.   Help Your Child Get Ready

For quite some time, I’ve had my son look at his list and shop for what he needs. I do this for several reasons:

  • I want him to know how much things cost and
  • One day he’ll be in college and doing his own preparations.

You can see a pic of his basket below. I also encouraged him to buy extras to last through December. I get stressed and don’t have time to run back to the store, so we stock extras in a supply drawer in the house.

My son's back to school basket at Staples

My son’s Back to School Shopping Basket. I had him use the list and gave him a budget. He used his calculator and purchased what he needed for the day. I find that since I’ve been doing this, he takes better care of everything he has.

I also plan ahead for encouraging him. I found these lunch notes that I’m keeping in my kitchen. I know the first few weeks will be busy, so I’m going ahead and writing funny/inspirational thoughts on them so I can grab and put them in his lunch.

Lunch box notes for my son

Lunch notes I found on the Less List display at the entrance of Staples. I’m writing this over the weekend and will have two weeks worth ready to go into lunches. As a busy Mom, you have to plan ahead to encourage your child.

2. Think About Workflow as You Organize your Desk

Getting organized and ready is important. I recently wrote a blog post over at Edutopia about the habits and workflow that I use. So, as I organize my desk, I’m always thinking about flow.

Some of my essential tools are:

  • a labeler,
  • a laminator,
  • colored file folders,
  • different colored pens that write well,
  • highlighters,
  • sharpies, and
  • awesome dry erase markers.

You can see from the pictures of my desk and bins, that I label everything. I also think that it is very helpful to have a bin behind your desk that is like a quick launch toolbar. (see pic) I have everything there that I can grab and go. You’ll need metal vertical files to do this, particularly if you keep your textbooks there like I do.

My command center in my classroom

My quick launch toolbar behind my desk. ARC punch, labeler, and my lesson plans, gradebook, and reward stickers. Everything is there to grab and go.

Organize your desk for workflow, but also consider your health. One of my biggest excitements was when my son found this double walled water bottle. (pic) It is clear (as our school requires) but also won’t have a condensation problem (I work in a computer lab, so water could harm the computer). I also keep idea journals handy that I review each week as I plan my lessons for the next week.

My husband bought me a really comfortable chair a few years ago. Tons of post it notes, pens, and everything right next to my desk.

My desk

My water bottle, journal, and computer are ready to go.

The first day of school, I will take a picture of each class. I’ll print these out and laminate them and put them on the wall. Erin Klein suggested this on our #moreforteachers Twitter Chat and it is a fantastic idea.

3. Look for New Ideas

When I’m planning to get ready for the year, I take time to go through every aisle of Staples. I just don’t know what has come out. For example, I keep my laptop, iPad and iPhone with me all the time. But it is so easy for them to get dirty.

I found the cute screen cleaners on the first aisle in my Staples by the Ink Cartridges. If I had run through the store, I never would have found these. I’ve put these in my school bag.

electronic wipes

This is the cutest thing of electronic cleaner/wipes! I bought this one and now keep it in my bag so I can keep my electronics clean. So, when I have my iPhone in the car and it gets dirty, it is clean right away. I so love this.

I also found this cute little notebook in the Less List display at the entrance of the store. It tears off. I’m using this for planning my week at home. I take these out and use my ARC punch to insert them in my planner in the right place. This is one (of the many) ways that I customize my own planner to the way that suits me. While I do use apps, I like to hand write my list items for the week out of my master list in OmniFocus.

to do list

I found this cute notebook in the Less List Display at the front of my Staples store. I use this to plan the week, but punch it with my ARC punch to put it in my custom planner.

4. Get Help for Student Projects

The biggest thing that public school teachers in the US can do to save on classroom projects is to register your projects at This past week, Staples funded more than 200 classroom projects in Atlanta as part of its recent $10 million pledge to Think It Up™, a new national initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation that seeks to inaugurate a new movement in support of students, teachers and schools, helping to create a culture of excitement about learning everywhere in America. If you are planning classroom projects, register now!

So, it is officially back to school. There’s so much going on! Take time to plan ahead and get #110Ready at Staples. I’ve been excited to share all of these ideas with you as part of their Back to School Council. I hope you’ll share your ideas in the comments, on Facebook, and on Twitter! Get organized and get ready!

My Back to School School Supplies

We bought lots at Staples. Here was our table of goodies when we came home.

[callout]Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)[/callout]

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere