When you see the back to school displays in the stores, you know that summer is half way over. Or you realize that retailers are an overzealous lot. Stores are filled with big yellow displays full of pencils, pens, pads, protractors, small refrigerators and computers. Almost anything in a store can be considered a back-to-school supply, especially when you take college kids into account.
I love this time of the year! It’s so exciting and even if your student isn’t too thrilled with the thought of inking Shakespearean quotes into their composition notebooks, or pondering the Pythagorean Theorem in their Trapper Keepers, they still want you to buy them all the cool stuff for school.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for school supply shopping. Back then, there weren’t a lot of displays to poke through, or eye-catching bins right as you walk in the door to trip over, but I still loved walking down the office supply aisle at Zayre (that’s an old name for you) or Kmart, being so careful to pick out the coolest pen (Papermate, blue) or pencil (Huskies), college-ruled paper, and the biggest, fanciest Trapper Keeper that was made. Even then, I had an obsession with keeping things organized.
Now, when I walk into a store with my 15 year old, I am absolutely astounded at what is available for kids to take to school. And frankly, I am smitten with the fact that schools send around to the retailers what they require for the kids to have on the first day. That’s such a brilliant idea. Granted, I usually have to take out a small loan on the house every July just to outfit him for school, between clothes, shoes, accessories and of course supplies, but I’m just as excited about it as he is!
Locker mirrors and organizers, book jackets in bright colors and patterns (I used brown paper bags from the grocery store…not fair), backpacks with shoulder pads…the list just goes on. I think this time however, I’m going to pick up some cool supplies for myself as well! Happy shopping!
Even though it’s a school holiday today, I thought that I would talk about the top five things that a teacher might need in their classroom, besides the mental strength to deal with children of all ages. Especially nowadays, teachers have to supply a lot of their own classroom materials, and that can get pricey.
Obviously, there are more than five things that a teacher needs for the classroom, but I’m going to showcase the most important, can’t-do-without items. Obviously maps, reference books, and other school supplies are essential, but a teacher can’t do without:
5) Grade Book/Lesson Planner: Whether its an old-fashioned write-in type, or a program on your computer, teachers MUST have a grade book and lesson planner.
4) Stickers: For immediate rewards and gratification, stickers are a must have. Children love stickers, and what better way to show them right away that they are accomplishing goals and doing a good job?
3) Awards: For long-term goals and achievements, award certificates are priceless. Its something that a student can keep with them through the years, and is tangible evidence of their accomplishments.
2) Basic Supplies: Pens, pencils, markers, crayons, highlighters, paper…need I say more?
1) A Sense of Humor: Let’s face it: if you can’t laugh away a stressful situation or day, then why bother? Being stressed in the classroom, or bringing it home to the family isn’t healthy for anyone.
It’s that time of the year when parents everywhere are rushing around to craft and hobby stores, looking for presentation boards and round foam balls they can turn into planets. Or they’re making papier mache volcanos, or getting zapped by static electricity experiments. It’s Science Fair time!
When I was a kid, I loved science. Hated Science Fair time though. One morning, getting ready for school, I remembered that our projects were due THAT MORNING. My parents were not the type to help us kids with our projects, so it was up to me to get it done.
I found an old cigar box, ran outside to the backyard and looked around for something, anything that I could use. My eyes fell on an air plant, which I promptly snatched out of the tree, and ran back inside. Now, these were the days long before Google, so I grabbed our Encyclopedia Brittanica and wrote out a paragraph on air plants on a rumpled piece of paper. I glued the air plant to the inside flap of the cigar box and voila! had myself a project. Surprisingly enough, I got an F.
One of my colleagues was telling me this morning about her kids and their science projects and I am literally amazed at the attention to detail and thought they put into it. Her son did one project where he measured the growth of a plant and how it was affected by yelling and rock music as opposed to one who heard jazz and kind words. Guess which one grew better?
Her daughter did a project where she was able to generate current through pencil led! How amazing is that? That’s like total MacGyver stuff! My son, he’s more like his father and I. English and languages are his strong suit. He never pulled an air plant stunt though.
Now, I love science fairs. I get so excited by all the ideas and displays, and I learn something new. Still, running around trying to find all the supplies can be a daunting task! And helping with the projects when sometimes I feel my son is smarter than me can be a bit humiliating. How do you get involved with your child’s projects? Are you a volcano expert, or strictly a solar system kind of person?
Continuing on the vein of back to school, it’s amazing the changes that have occurred since I was in school. Even in tools that are used IN school. Teachers used to use chalk, now its dry erase markers. No more chalk fights, no more eraser fights, and no more staying behind to clean the chalk board or erasers if you cut up in class while leading an eraser fight. That was character-building stuff! There was nothing like having to stay after class while your friends go out and play, and you have to watch from the windows as you meticulously cleaned the chalkboard and erasers. I didn’t instigate that many fights after that punishment.
Another thing I’ve noticed when we’re all talking about walking uphill both ways in five feet of snow (in Florida, no less) is that our teachers used pointer sticks. You remember them, long sticks about 2-3 feet in length, could be used as a punishment tool when slammed on your desktop as you sat chatting with your neighbor? Yeah, those days are done. Now it’s a laser pointer. Laser pointers are nice, but the lack of fright factor is lost with them.
Planning books have gone away, being replaced by Mac Books. I can definitely see this one, since teacher planner books get lost easier and hacked into a lot easier. A mischievous student can’t easily make away with a Mac Book to put a crimp into a lesson plan. That translates into at least a misdemeanor these days as opposed to an afternoon or two cleaning chalkboards. Another thing that technology is enhancing is the fact that a student is no longer shaking in his or her boots while reading from a tattered, many-times-erased composition sheet. No, now its PowerPoints and flashdrives. Composition books are still used, but for presentations, it’s all technology-based. One of my co-workers said her daughter has been using PowerPoint in school since the third grade! I hesitate to think what school will be like for my grandchildren…
In honor of kids everywhere headed back to school, or just starting school this year, I wanted to do a retrospective of one of the cheeriest items in a school supply kit- the lunch box. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Trapper-Keeper, but my lunch box not only could express my individuality (which wasn’t necessarily a GOOD thing in 1980) but also hold all the deliciousness that my mom could stuff into it. And I never knew what she was going to pack in there, but I never feared that it wouldn’t be scrumptious.
School lunch boxes were also a way to bond. You know you had something in common without having to speak first, a test-the-waters exploration of friendship, if you will. If they had a Yoda lunch box, you know you would get along because you had a Luke Skywalker lunch box. Now, I was not a girly-girl growing up. I had two older brothers, and a father that liked to bring me to his construction sites, so my lunch boxes always trended to Science Fiction, superheroes, or cartoons. Again, back in 1980, this did NOT make me popular, but hey, I knew what I liked.
Now, there are some really cool lunch boxes, ones that are soft-sided and have scroll-ey, flowery things on them for the girls, and ones with multiple compartments with their own Gladware…I confess I like them for me as well, because they are just so much fun! I don’t mind eating leftover’s so much when I have my pretty little lunch box.
I was on the phone the other day with a teacher, and she was asking about one of our products that we carry.
She was getting her classroom ready for the coming year, and needed some supplies from us. So we were talking and laughing about being in school during the late 70’s and through the 80’s, and what our favorite time was. Hint: it was not 7th grade. We loved elementary school recess. Oh wow, all the fun games that kids nowadays would probably think were lame, but that we just had so much fun with! Who doesn’t remember being beaned in the back by a dodge ball? Or being beaned in the head by a tether ball? Oh. Wait, that was probably just me. Well, injuries aside, I loved other things as well, like the parachute game, and Red Rover, jumping rope and bean bag tosses…not too fond of the three-legged race, though. That was a bummer. Come to think of it, maybe I liked 8th grade better. I was more athletic then and less likely to be injured by a flying bean bag…