As a preschool teacher, there are some items you might find that are absolutely necessary to teaching. Today I’m sharing eight surprising things that will seriously make your preschool teaching life a whole lot easier.
My teaching career has given me the opportunity to teach a wide range of levels. I started with middle school art, then moved to fourth grade, then fifth, and then third. When I had my first kiddo, William, I decided to stay at home with him but still wanted to be in the teaching game. I knew I would miss teaching so much! So, I became an adjunct college instructor. When William turned two I was invited to participate in a preschool co-op with some like-minded stay at home mom friends and I juggled teaching college three days a week and teaching preschool two days a week. It was then, and now owning my own preschool has reiterated this thought, when I learned that teaching preschool is entirely different from anything else I’d ever done. Ever.
And through my experience in teaching preschool I have come to find some products that I absolutely cannot teach without. These are not your typical classroom supplies. These are things you buy to make your life teaching little people easier and happier.
1. Tyvek Wristbands
I had to start off with my favorite. Tyvek wristbands. These little gems are tear-proof, water-proof and stretch-proof. I love them for giving quick reminders to parents, such as snacks or special days in preschool. If it’s John’s turn to bring snacks for preschool, I’ll write a note “Snacks 8-6” in permanent marker on a Tyvek wristband, place it around his wrist and Mom and Dad will naturally find it! If I need t remind parents of holiday parties or field trips, I’ll use these wristbands for the same purpose. They are also great for dividing groups, especially for designating chaperon groups for preschool field trips, since we don’t have matching T-shirts.
2. Dough Scraper
I use a dough scraper for preschool nearly every day, and certainly every time we use playdough. It is the perfect tool for scraping bits of playdough off the table. It serves the same purpose for when we make messes with slime and for when we are cooking in preschool.
3. Cement Mixing Tub
In preschool we are all about sensory bins and water play. I have been through several different kinds of tubs that can be used for sensory or water play, and nothing compares to a cement mixing or utillity tub. They are deep and really heavy duty. This means the plastic won’t become brittle through outdoor use, and they won’t crack from little children getting over zealous in their sensory play. They are also large enough for up to six preschoolers to work at one time.
4. Food Trays
I cannot say enough about how useful food trays are when teaching preschool! They are perfect, of course, for serving food, or assembling food, or eating snacks on. But, even better than those three perks, is that they are awesome for containing messing art projects. Whenever we use glitter, sand or sand in process art, we put our project on a food tray to help contain the mess. I also use them to define spaces for table games when it is important to prevent dice from rolling of the table, or keeping math counters in our working space. The best part, though, is that food trays are dishwasher safe!
5. Laundry Baskets
No, you’re not reading that wrong. I have a set of four laundry baskets I use specifically for preschool. In my in-home preschool, I don’t have enough space for cubbies, so I have set out a laundry basket for the children to keep their shoes while we are inside. We use another for coats and backpacks. Also, since I don’t have a designated room in my house for my preschool classroom, I have to haul out my preschool materials everyday. This is made super quick and easy if I just place everything for the week in a laundry basket. I also have another for storing and toting playground balls.
6. Dish Tubs
Again, since I have to tote out all my preschool materials each morning, I organize my circle time materials in a dish tub. I have my lesson plans in that tub, as well as our weather and name cards and picture books I plan to read that day, and I also keep our circle time mats rolled up in this tub. At the end of preschool, this tub gets placed in the laundry basket to be stored for tomorrow.
7. Tri-fold Display Boards
You’ve probably seen my post about circle time for the mobile classroom, or read some of my posts about math concept boards. For each of those posts I refer to a tri-fold display board. They are a great solution to my lack of bulletin board space. They also happen to make great puppet theaters. Just a note on quality…don’t skimp on it! The heavy duty ones last so much longer you won’t regret spending a little more.
8. Contact Paper
The final thing I can’t live without when teaching preschool is clear contact paper. I use it for arts and crafts, and for a ton of learning activities. It doesn’t leave a residue (usually…still use with caution), so I use it frequently for large games we play on the floor.
Is there anything else you would add? I know there are a ton of valuable supplies for teaching preschool, but this is my must-have list for preschool teaching success! They are not your typical supplies like crayons and construction paper, but they are used just as much, if not more.
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I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction