25 Unexpected but Totally Genius Items to Add to Your School Supplies List

Totally brilliant school supplies you need to ask for!

Pencils, glue sticks, and scissors are a given, but have you ever thought about the odd (but genius) items you could add to your school supplies list? We’ve researched some great teacher hacks you can use in your classroom to make the days flow a little more smoothly.

Here are 25 things you might not have considered putting on your list—but totally should.

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1. Plastic Shoe Box

Have students bring a plastic shoebox for the school year. They can keep their gym shoes at school but any odors will be trapped inside. Encourage students to decorate their own so that they’re easy to distinguish from each other. 

2. Socks

Having some spare socks in your drawer can come in handy if students have a need, but there’s another good reason to keep some in your classroom. Use them on dry-erase boards to clean the surface in minutes!  

3. Disinfectant Wipes

school supplies list

Oh, disinfectant wipes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! These are so helpful at getting rid of germs in the classroom, especially during cold and flu outbreaks. Just use one at the end of the day on your desk, doorknobs, and light switches and call it a night! 

4. Earbuds

Does your class use headphones on a regular basis? If so, there’s a better option than lugging out a big box every time you need them. Have students bring earbuds instead. They are easy to store, affordable, and much more space-efficient! 

5. Sandwich Bags

There are so many great uses for sandwich bags in the classroom. You can easily store small manipulatives, lost earrings, and pieces of broken eyeglasses. Even craft items can be kept safe and easy to find!  

6. Duct Tape

Do we even have to explain why having duct tape is a good idea? It can be used on everything. From temporarily repairing shoes and textbooks to creating art, every classroom should have a roll. Grab some duct tape in bright colors and patterns just for fun! 

7. Pack of Plastic Plates

While plastic isn’t environmentally-friendly, you can recycle these and let’s face it … plastic plates can be a lifesaver. They work as impromptu dry-erase boards, can double as a make-shift canvas, and of course be used for classroom parties to serve food!  

8. Non-Perishable Snacks

snacks school supplies list

At the beginning of the school year, and again in January, have students bring in some non-perishable snacks. Make sure they leave anything with peanuts at home and find out if there are any other known allergies in the class.

9. Water Bottle

water bottle school supplies list

If your school allows it, have students keep water bottles at their desks. Let them fill them up at the beginning of the day to cut down on trips to the water fountain. Everyone will stay hydrated without leaving their seats! 

10. Sidewalk Chalk

Want a new way to grab your students’ attention? Here’s an easy way to get creative—use sidewalk chalk on the board to add eye-catching colorful quotes or displays!

11. Food Coloring

Whether you’re making homemade playdough or doing an in-class science experiment, food coloring is the perfect way to add in different colors and even work on color wheels. A little goes a long way, so these will last you a while. Just keep them away from fabrics!

12. Playing Cards

Using games to teach math lessons? You’ll love having playing cards for those activities! Keep an extra pack or two on hand in case some cards get bent or go missing.

13. White T-Shirt

It doesn’t matter which grade you teach, your teadchers will love creating personalized shirts at the beginning of the year. Ask them to bring a plain white t-shirt for a cool back-to-school activity and then have them present their design to the class as a fun icebreaker. 

14. Can of Tennis Balls

Tennis balls can make your classroom a quieter, more peaceful place. Just cut two balls in half and put them on the legs of students’ chairs. When they push their chairs around, the noise will be muffled. The balls keep the floor from getting scuffed up, too. Genius!

15. Deodorant

This one is totally up to you, but if you teach middle school or high school, you might want to add deodorant to the supplies list. We all can get a little ripe after a long day, but things can get especially stinky after phys ed. Just saying! 

16. Trolley Dolly

Who wants to lug all their stuff from their car to the classroom (and back!) every day? Make your life a little easier with a Trolly Dolly. Load up your needed papers and supplies, roll it down the hallway, and you’re all set for another successful day! 

17. Picnic Time Portable Seat

Do you find your back hurting when it’s time to hit the gym for a pep rally? Make those bleacher seats a little more bearable with one of these portable picnic seats! 

18. Stress Ball

This probably needs no explanation, but we’ll go ahead and suggest keeping a stress ball within arm’s reach. You know, for those moments when you really need to squeeze out some frustration. Buy a couple (or 30) just in case!

19. Colored Hanging File Folders

Do you use different colored papers for handouts? Have a multicolored stack of construction paper you sift through every time you do a craft project? Use hanging folders to keep everything separated and color-coordinated!

20. Painter’s Tape

It can be hard to keep lines straight when you’re writing on a whiteboard or chalkboard. Give your students a little guidance with painter’s tape. Combine with the item below for another great hack! 

21. Hot Glue

No, we’re not suggesting you hand out the hot glue guns to the classroom! You can, however, apply the glue to easy-to-remove painter’s tape to hang posters and other decorations in your classroom. You can then move those items around easily without damaging the walls. 

22. Cardboard Magazine Holders

Throughout the year, a lot of clutter can accumulate on desks. That’s why you should add cardboard magazine holders to your school supplies list. You’ll tame the madness and make everything easy to access. 

23. Pompoms

We all know that using these cute little puffs can add texture and fun to an art project, but did you know they have a more practical use? Use that hot glue gun of yours to stick pompoms to the end of your dry-erase markers and you’ve got a handy eraser!

24. Straw Dispenser

Want an easy way to store dozens of pencils and make them accessible to students? Try a straw dispenser. Look for a clear model so you can easily see when you’re in need of a refill.

25. Hair Conditioner

Conditioner may seem like an odd thing to add to your school supplies list, but there are many benefits. For example, using it to clean your paintbrushes can make them last longer! 

Know of any other great teacher hacks? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers DEALS group on Facebook.

Plus, check out  Classroom Cleaning Supplies.

25 Unexpected but Totally Genius Items to Add to Your School Supplies List

Posted by Jeanne Croteau

Jeanne is a mother of six (including toddler twins!), writer, homeschooler, and social sciences professor. She loves cooking, reading, and dancing in her kitchen.

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