Don’t Waste Your Money on School Supplies!

Don’t waste your money on bad school supplies by purchasing the wrong items, cheapo brands, or overpriced stuff. Here are a few tips:

1. Ticonderoga. When it comes to pencils, it’s the only name you need to know, and this year they come in neon colors, too! Don’t be one of those kids who spends all your time re-sharpening your Chinese-made pencil until it’s just a nub. Also, don’t buy pencils with “wraps.”

office depot ad

2. Stay out of Dollar Tree and Wal-mart, or at least avoid their generic brands and store labels. They’re junk and you’ll have to replace them sooner rather than later. Office Depot brand is also junk, especially when it comes to glue sticks. Imagine sitting down at lunch this December, looking up at your wonderful Cafeteria Elf on the wall above Verna’s window, and then watching in horror as all the pieces start falling off. First a mitten. Then a leg. Ugh! Save your elf the trauma of losing a leg or an eye; buy a good brand like RoseArt, Elmer’s, or Avery. There’s nothing wrong with shopping at Office Depot, just don’t buy their store brand.

3. Get the right calculator: TI-30XIIS. It’s the required calculator at all D6 schools through the 8th grade, so buy it once and use it for four or five years. If you can’t afford one, we have loaners. If you don’t have one because you abused the one you bought last year, well, I guess you’re out of luck.

fm notebooks4. Buy three spiral notebooks. These are critical. The picture at right (from Fred Meyer) shows you what to buy. And look how cheap they are!

5. Make sure your ruler has inches and centimeters. Make sure it’s actually the right size. Two years ago one of our students discovered her Chinese-made ruler was inaccurate by 5%. That meant her “foot” was really only 11.4″. She flunked a few math assignments before we figured it out.

6. Keep it simple. Buy inexpensive earbuds (for use with computers), a basic protractor (no gizmos necessary), and ordinary backpacks and binders.

7. Crackle crackle, sniff sniff. We discourage using disposable water bottles because they quickly become a noise problem in class. Get a reusable BPA-free bottle instead.  Deodorant doesn’t seem important, but the closer we are to being teenagers, the more we tend to smell a bit ripe following fitness, PE, and recess.

8. We’re trying to save you money. We understand that paying for all this stuff can be a burden, so we’ve dropped computer paper, wet wipes, plastic bags, paper towels, and hand sanitizer from the list (studies show hand sanitizer is actually harmful to your immune system anyway). We’ve also decreased the number of some items including glue sticks, notebook paper, and Expo pens. If you’re still short, let us know before you shop and we’ll try to help. If you watch the newspaper ads for deals, you can get all this stuff pretty darned cheap.

The CPE School Supply list is posted in many stores, but you can also print it by clicking here. Whether in Lewis or Hadley, it’ll be the same. Please have everything with you on the first day of class. You can put your name on your crayons, colored pencils, folder, binder, backpack, earbuds, scissors, and ruler, but wait until you come to school before labeling anything else. Have fun school supply shopping!

 

 

Don’t Waste Your Cash on School Supplies

Don’t waste your money on bad school supplies by purchasing the wrong items, cheapo brands, or overpriced stuff. Here are a few tips:

1. Ticonderoga. When it comes to pencils, it’s the only name you need to know. Don’t be one of those kids who spends all your time re-sharpening your Chinese-made pencil until it’s just a nub. Also, don’t buy pencils with “wraps.”

office depot ad

2. Stay out of Dollar Tree and Wal-mart, or at least avoid their generic brands and store labels. They’re junk and you’ll have to replace them later. Office Depot brand is also junk, especially when it comes to glue sticks. Imagine sitting down at lunch this December, looking up at your wonderful Cafeteria Elf on the wall above Verna’s window, and then watching in horror as all the pieces start falling off. First a mitten. Then a leg. Ugh! Save your elf the trauma of losing a leg or an eye; buy a good brand like RoseArt, Elmer’s, or Avery. There’s nothing wrong with shopping at Office Depot (check out the great deals from their ad this week); just don’t buy their store brand.

3. Get the right calculator: TI-30XIIS. It’s the required calculator at all D6 schools through the 8th grade, so buy it once and use it for four or five years.

fm notebooks4. Buy three spiral notebooks. These are critical. The picture at right (from Fred Meyer) shows you what to buy. And look how cheap they are!

5. Make sure your ruler has inches and centimeters. Make sure it’s actually the right size. Last year one of our students discovered her Chinese-made ruler was inaccurate by 5%. That meant her “foot” was really only 11.4″. She flunked a few math assignments before we figured it out.

The official CPE supply list can be found here (I’ll update it soon), while a supply list specific to Room 15 can be found here (use this one). Have fun collecting all your supplies and try to have them with you on the first day of school. See you then!

 

 

Don’t Waste Your Money on School Supplies!

Imagine your surgeon performing a procedure on you using broken scalpels. Imagine an auto mechanic trying to fix your Ferrari using nothing but a hammer. The right tools for the job are important there and in the classroom. Your child’s academic success is partly determined by the tools he or she brings to school.

In consideration of the economy we tried to trim down the 4th and 5th grade shopping list, but we advise you not to waste your money on the cheap stuff. Generic-brands will only need to be replaced shortly after the school year begins, costing you more money in the long run. The official CPE supply list can be found here, while a supply list specific to Room 15 can be found here (use this one). Be sure to consider the following tips to help make your school supply shopping more effective and less-expensive:

Pencils: It sounds silly, but I STRONGLY encourage purchasing Ticonderoga pencils. In twenty years in the classroom I have witnessed the use of approximately fifteen thousand pencils, and I can tell you there’s a huge difference between brands. Pencils made in China and those typically sold by Wal-mart and Dollar Tree are horrific. Also avoid mechanical pencils and pencils with graphic “wraps” (if you look closely you can tell when a pencil has been wrapped in plastic; the plastic decals may look cool, but they’re a disaster in the pencil sharpener). The supply list calls for two dozen pencils. If they’re Ticonderoga, you can half that, but if they’re Office Works or some other cheapo brand, you’ll need four dozen. As of July 28th, Fred Meyer had a two dozen box of Ticonderoga for just $2.99.

Glue Sticks: We use a lot of glue in Room 15, so this is a biggie. Good brands: Avery, Elmer’s, Roseart. Stay away from Office Works, Staples, Scholastic, Office Deport, and all generic brands. (While Staples and Depot are good places to shop for name brand products, their store brands are a waste of money.)

Calculators: Texas Instruments TI-30XIIS, which sells for between $9 and $15, is the official calculator for all District 6 students from 4th through 8th grade. Buy it once and use it until high school. Classwork and state test practice is aligned with this specific calculator, so no other brands or models will do.

Rulers: Avoid those with gimmicks. Inexpensive wood or plastic ones are best, but make sure it shows both inches and centimeters. The same goes for protractors.

Spiral Notebooks: Avoid the kind that have book binding, perforated pages, or a “wireless” label. Instead, buy the 70 page theme books that are typically on sale about now for ten for a buck. Kids who struggle with hand-writing should use wide-ruled, while those who have already developed a sense for neatness can get college-ruled (this same rule-of-thumb applies to your paper purchase).

Three-ring binders: I’m not a big fan of using binders, but we find if we do a good job of teaching kids binder organization while at CPE, they’re more successful in middle school. Thus, a good binder is important. Instead of getting one with lots of silly features, go for toughness. Kids tend to abuse their binders, so you want one that can take a lickin’. (You might also want to suggest your child pays for any replacement binder on their own . . . maybe then they’ll take better care of it.)

Dividers: Students will use these to set-up their binders. They should have tabs on them, but students should wait to write on their tabs until getting specific instructions in class.

Colored-pencils and crayons: A simple box of each is fine, and here the brand is less significant. We use colored-pencils extensively, but mostly just standard colors. Students tend to lose their colored-pencils, so plan on buying another set mid-year. Scissors also tend to disappear quickly, so if you can buy a two-pack, you’re better off in the long run.

Community supplies: Some of what your student buys will be turned in immediately to the teacher so that it can be dispensed appropriately throughout the year. This process protects you, the consumer, from having to replace items too frequently. Pencils, paper, tissue, and glue sticks are all items we’ll “control” in this way. Therefore, students should avoid labeling their supplies until arriving in class.

Optional items: Items each student may find useful (but are not required) include a manual pencil sharpener, a black sharpie, a set of water-color markers, and a four-pack of dry-erase markers. These items will be retained by the student.

Other items: A good backpack (avoid those with wheels), a water bottle (BPA free or stainless steel, but no disposable water bottles, please!), and a deodorant stick for post-fitness/PE use will also help your child have a great fifth grade year!

Finally, one last thing that costs nothing: I encourage you to set your student up with his or her own e-mail account such as through Google (gmail) or Yahoo. You should set it up so that both you and the student have access. This will facilitate a variety of classroom activities, including the building of student webpages/portfolios. These days, more and more academic content is delivered via the Internet. I’ve had great success motivating kids to higher levels of learning, but e-mail and Internet access is the basic requirement.

School Supply Shopping

If you watch the newspaper fliers you’ll find a ton of good deals on schools supplies in our local big boxes–but be careful. Avoid cheapo brands and generics. You’re better off sticking with quality labels such as Ticonderoga. The quality of your child’s tools makes a tremendous difference in class. It also keeps you from having to buy new supplies again in January.

You can also utilize used supplies. There’s nothing wrong with last year’s scissors, ruler, pencils, and many other items (assuming they weren’t the cheapo brands). Be sure, however, to get the official TI calculator (TI-30XIIS). Students will need it through 8th grade, we have many lessons designed for this specific calculator, and it is the only calculator allowed on the state math test.

If you need the official CPE school supply list, click here. If you’d like the Room 15 version identifying all the stuff you don’t need and preferences for the rest, click here. I highly recommend you give ownership of school supply shopping over to your child. Establish a reasonable budget and let them purchase their own supplies (though have them view the tips shown here).

Some spots to cut back: kids only need a dozen pencils–but it’s essential that they’re Ticonderoga. Cheap brands are simply a waste of money (they don’t sharpen and the erasers smudge) and mechanical pencils create problems in class. Besides Ticonderogas are one things still made in America.

Don’t overspend on the three ring binder. It needn’t be a zipper binder or have anything special about it.

Especially important items include the 70-pg theme books (usually available for around 10 cents this time of year), Ticonderogas, tissue, scissors, quality glue sticks (Ross, Elmer’s), a wooden or hard-plastic ruler showing inches and centimeters, and colored pencils.

Helpful extra items include a protractor, a personal manual pencil sharpener, and deodorant.

If you have any questions about supplies, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at mack.lewis@district6.org.

School Supply Shopping

If you watch the newspaper fliers, there are a ton of good deals on schools supplies in our local big boxes–but be careful. Be sure to avoid cheapo brands and generics. Instead, stick with quality labels such as Ticonderoga. The quality of your child’s tools makes a tremendous difference in class. It also keeps you from having to buy new supplies again in January.

You can also utilize used supplies. There’s nothing wrong with last year’s scissors, ruler, pencils, and many other items (assuming they weren’t the cheapo brands). Be sure, however, to get the official TI calculator (TI-30XIIS), as students will need it through 8th grade. We have many lessons designed around this specific calculator and it is the only calculator allowed on the state math test.

If you need the official CPE school supply list: click here. If you’d like the Room 15 version identifying all the stuff you don’t need and preferences for the rest, click here. (Both lists are last year’s, but they’ll do.) I highly recommend you give ownership of school supply shopping over to your child. Establish a reasonable budget and let them purchase their own supplies (though have them view the tips shown here).

Some spots to cut back: if you’re buying Ticonderoga pencils, you can probably get by with just a dozen. If any other brand, we need two dozen. I believe the school’s official list asks for three dozen–which is unnecessary in my class.

Don’t overspend on the three ring binder. It needn’t be a zipper binder or have anything special about it.

Especially important items include the 70-pg theme books (usually available for around 10 cents this time of year), Ticonderogas, tissue, scissors, quality glue sticks (Ross, Elmer’s), a wooden or hard-plastic ruler showing inches and centimeters, and colored pencils.

Helpful extra items  include a protractor, a personal manual pencil sharpener, and deodorant.

If you have any questions about supplies, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at mack.lewis@district6.org.

Homework Policy

Each Monday-Thursday night, Room 15 students are expected to read for twenty t0 thirty minutes from an assigned or independent reading selection (play script, chapter book, or free choice) and complete a homework sheet, usually in math. Students hand-write their list of duties on the back of the math sheet. They’re also required to get a parent’s signature or initials on the sheet, which indicates the parent has seen the work and is aware of the student’s progress. These initials are required for s student to get credit fro their homework reading.

I attempt to adhere to the “ten minutes per year in school” rule of thumb, so homework is designed to take 50 minutes in all. The math sheet is supposed to review concepts covered the same day in class and should take no more twenty to thirty minutes to complete. Note that these math sheets are generally not returned. We often correct them together as a class, and I scan them looking for students who may need additional help, but they’re otherwise viewed as “practice.” They also serve as the student’s “ticket to recess.”

Additionally, certain classroom work might also be assigned as homework over and above the 50 minutes. If a student has been unable to complete an assignment in a reasonable amount of time during the school day, they’re expected to complete it at home.

I won’t assignment regular homework for weekends, but students who have fallen behind may have catch-up work. I also encourage families to utilize a weekend from time to time for trips to museums, forest hikes, and other stimulating activities.

All homework is to be maintained in the student’s binder. Our efforts to maintain reasonably organized binders represents a transition to middle school where “binder management” is of significant importance.

Students are encouraged to do extra credit work. I encourage them to create projects suited to their own interests, to bring completed projects to class, and and to share them. We have a bulletin board dedicated to such projects and I show students how to publish their work on their webpages (in JPEG or PDF formats, for example). I’ve found that kids who create projects on their own are often the most fulfilled academically. Their interests also tend to spread throughout the class.  For example, one year I had a student create a project loosely based on forensics and fingerprints. This was long before the days of CSI and the rest of the class was fascinated.  Soon, many of the students were imitating the first, creating similar projects of their own.

I am always willing to modify the homework to suit the individual needs of families and students–please contact me if you need assistance in this regard. And finally, though I believe homework is  of significant value, I also believe families need the freedom to set it aside when it creates household strife. If a particular assignment is proving difficult to the point of tears (or worse), feel free to set it aside and write me a note. I’ll try to provide the student with some extra coaching and the encouragement necessary to try again either in class or at home the next night.

If you have any questions about my homework policy, please feel free to call.

A Note About Calculators (& more)

If money is tight this year–at it is for many of us–you can bypass purchasing a TI-30X calculator. Although our math instruction is built around this specific model, students are welcome to use ones from our class set. They can also purchase them from the school at anytime during the year (generally for less than at the store). They will be expected to have this model calculator at Scenic next year (and through 8th grade).  For all your other supplies, used items are fine. If you have any questions about school supplies feel free to contact me or simply wait until Wednesday night (Sept 8th) to complete your purchases. We hope to have all our supplies labeled and in use by Thursday so that we can jump into our curriculum immediately.  Thanks!

School Supply Deals

Many of the best school supply deals seemed to have dried up, but Bi-Mart has much of what Room 15 kids will need at decent prices: 70 page spiral notebooks, 8/$1; 1.5″ Trapper Keeper binder, $5.99; Avery Glue Stic 2 packs, 3/$1; Fiskars scissors, $1.29-1.99; Chisel tip dry erase markers, 50 cents off; and Ticonderoga pencils, $1.49 per dozen.

Wherever you buy your supplies, avoid cheapo brands. Instead, stick with quality labels such as Ticonderoga. The quality of your child’s tools makes a tremendous difference in class.

You can also utilize used supplies. There’s nothing wrong with last year’s scissors, ruler, pencils, and many other items (assuming they weren’t the cheapo brands). Be sure, however, to get the official TI calculator (see below), as students will need it through 8th grade. We have many lessons designed around this specific calculator and it is the only calculator allowed on the state math test.

Be sure to read below for more tips about school supplies. If you need the official CPE school supply list: click here. If you’d like the Room 15 version identifying all the stuff you don’t need and preferences for the rest, click here.

Don’t Waste Your Cash on School Supplies

Wasn’t it just yesterday we let out for summer vacation? And yet the big box stores are already hocking school supplies. Here are some good deals and some helpful tips to help you save money on this year’s supplies:

Target (from 8/1/10):  Rose Art colored pencils, $.50; 12-pack Ticonderoga, $2.; recycled Fiskars scissors, $1; rulers, pink erasers, pencil sharpeners, 20 cents.

Office Depot (from 8/1/10): Copy paper, $1; protractors, 5 cents; Scissor two-packs, 99 cents; TI30SXII Calculators, $12.99; 4-pack Expo markers, $3.00; DON’T BUY Office Depot brand rulers (they don’t show metrics), glue sticks (they don’t work at all), or pencils (merely food for the pencil sharpeners).

Staples (from 8/1/10): Avery 5-tab dividers, 59 cents; Avery 3-pack glue sticks, $1

Fred Meyer (from 8/1/10): 2-pack pink erasers, 49 cents; Avery 3-pack glue stick, $1.39; Earth’s Choice 1.5″ binder, $2.49; Jansport backpack, $14.99.  DON’T BUY Office Works pencils, not even for 33 cents a pack.

Fred Meyer (from 7/25/10):
* 24 pack Crayola crayons—25 cents
* Protractors, rulers, Pink Pearl-type erasers, cheapo scissors—33 cents
* Avery 6-pack glue sticks—buy one get one free (Avery is one of the better glue-stick brands, and kids go through glue sticks like crazy)

Staples (coupons in 7/25/10 MMT):
*500-sheet ream of copy paper—1 cent!
*Ticonderoga pencils, 12 pack–$1 (this really is the world’s best pencil, well worth the money)
* TI-30SXIIS calculator–$13.99 (this calculator is required through 8th grade; buy it once and use it for four years!)

Office Depot (from 7/25/10):
* 6-pack notebooks (70 pages)—50 cents
* Acrylic rulers—5 cents (make sure it shows inches and centimeters)
* 500 sheet ream HP office paper—95 cents
* Fiskars scissors—$3.00
* Ticonderoga pencils–buy one get one
* Expo dry erase markers–buy one get one

Target (from 7/25/10):
* TI-30XIIS Calculator–$9.00 (the official D6 calc, and in various colors too!)
* Binder bundle (1.5” binder,  dividers, pocket, ruler)–$2.50 (this is all the binder my students need)
* Elmer’s 6-pack glue sticks–$1.00 (Elmer’s is okay, but avoid all generic store brands)

This year we’ve tried hard to minimize the school supply requirements, but know that your child’s school supplies are his tools for success. Going without leads to failure, and going cheap just means you’ll have to replace later. If financial difficulties prevent you from buying supplies, some assistance is available.

No need to buy wet wipes, hand sanitizer, or paper towels—we have plenty stocked up; no need to buy three dozen pencils. Buy just 2 dozen; better yet, if you’re buying Ticonderoga, buy just 1 dozen!

Student binders need not be fancy, just functional.  If they come with a pocket, it’s helpful, but if not, add a pocket folder. You also need to buy dividers. Middle school is all about binder management, so binder organization in 5th grade is a step in that direction.

If you need the official CPE school supply list: click here. If you’d like the Room 15 version identifying all the stuff you don’t need and preferences for the rest, click here.

School Supply Shopping Tips

Imagine your surgeon performing a procedure on you using broken scalpels. Imagine an auto mechanic trying to fix your Ferrari using nothing but a hammer. The right tools for the job are important there and in the classroom. Your child’s academic success is partly determined by the tools he or she brings to school.

In consideration of the economy we tried to trim down the 4th and 5th grade shopping list, but we advise you not to waste your money on the cheap stuff. Generic-brands will only need to be replaced shortly after the school year begins, costing you more money in the long run. For a printable supply list click here, and if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at mack.lewis@district6.org.

Here are a few more tips to help make your school supply shopping more effective and less-expensive:

Pencils: It sounds silly, but I STRONGLY encourage purchasing Ticonderoga pencils. In sixteen years in the classroom I have witnessed the use of approximately ten thousand pencils, and I can tell you there’s a huge difference between brands. (For example, pencils made in China and those often sold by Wal-mart and Dollar Tree are terrible. The erasers smudge badly and the leads break too frequently). Also avoid mechanical pencils and pencils with graphic “wraps” (if you look closely you can tell when a pencil has been wrapped in plastic; the plastic decals may look cool, but they’re a disaster in the pencil sharpener).

Glue Sticks: Avoid Office Depot brand and other “generic” labels, which don’t stick to anything. Also avoid washable glue. We use a lot of glue in Room 15, so this is a biggie.

Calculators: It need not be fancy, but make sure it’s solar and avoid toy-like versions. Standard-size Sharp or similar brands are best, and you can usually find them for a buck or two.

Rulers: Avoid those with gimmicks. Inexpensive wood or plastic ones are best, but make sure it shows both inches and centimeters.

Spiral Notebooks: Avoid the kind that have book binding or perforated pages. Instead, buy the 70 page theme books that are typically on sale about now for ten for a buck. Kids who struggle with hand-writing should use wide-ruled, while those who have already developed a sense for neatness can get college-ruled (this same rule-of-thumb applies to your paper purchase).

Three-ring binders: Instead of getting one with lots of silly features, go for toughness. Our students carry these back and forth to math class and home, which is hard enough on them. Kids tend to abuse their binders, too, so you want one that can take a lickin’. (You might also want to suggest your child pays for any replacement binder on their own . . . maybe then they’ll take better care of it.)

Dividers: Students will use these to set-up their binders. They should have tabs on them, but students should wait to write on their tabs until getting specific instructions in class.

Colored-pencils and crayons: A simple box of each is fine, and here the brand is less significant. We use colored-pencils extensively, but mostly just standard colors. Students tend to lose their colored-pencils, so plan on buying another set mid-year. Scissors also tend to disappear quickly, so if you can buy a two-pack, you’re better off in the long run.

Community supplies: Much of what your student buys will be turned in immediately to the teacher so that it can be dispensed appropriately throughout the year. This process protects you, the consumer, from having to replace items too frequently. Pencils, paper, boxes or tissue, pencil top erasers, pens, and glue sticks are all items we’ll “control” in this way. Therefore, students should avoid labeling their supplies until arriving in class.

Optional items: Items each student may find useful (but are not required) include a manual pencil sharpener, a protractor, a pink pearl eraser, a black sharpie, a set of water-color markers, and a good water-color paint set. These items will be retained by the student.

Other items: A good backpack (avoid those with wheels), a water bottle (BPA free or stainless steel, but no disposable water bottles, please!), and a great attitude will also help your child have a great fifth grade year!