Monday, July 21, 2014

Teaching Gadgets

There are a few tools that I have collected over the years that have made my job a million times easier. Now is the perfect time to share my list of awesome tools because you still have time to splurge on a couple of these before school starts.  Some might be fairly obvious, but if I use it every day, then it warrants a spot on the list.  There is a pretty large range of prices as well, so even if you don't have room in your budget for a new color laser printer (my summer splurge!) you should still be able to find something on this list that you can add to your stash.



1. The one tool that I can't teach without is my 3 Hole Punch.  I don't know a teacher who doesn't have a 3 hole punch, and for obvious reasons of course.  BUT all 3 hole punches are not created equal.  This high capacity punch is a monster, and completely amazing! It can cut through 45 sheets of paper at one time, and of course, the nice little drawer to catch all of the punched pieces.  Time is a precious commodity to any teacher, and being able to punch all of the pages that you would need for an entire class at one time is incredibly valuable!


2. My favorite fun tool is my binding machine.  I make class books all the time, I also use it to bind my own planners, put together portfolios and memory books, and make gifts for other teachers (personalized notebooks, planners, etc.).  I have a Zutter Bind-It-All, which I originally got for my personal scrapbooking projects, but it has proven far more useful in the classroom.  There are so many pros to this machine - it is compact so I can easily take it to and from school with me, it will bind any size project, the blades can cut through chipboard and plexiglass, and it uses wire bindings so projects look really professional.  The supplies aren't exactly cheap, but I buy my bindings at Hobby Lobby, so I can always use a 40% off coupon.  


3. One of the most convenient tools I own is my personal laminator.  It doesn't make sense for me to use this to laminate everything that I need for the classroom, but for little projects it is so nice to have.  I have a Xyron Creative Station. This machine does cold lamination, and while I can definitely see how a heat laminator would be nice to have, I also don't have to wait for this one to heat up before laminating.  The best thing about the Creative Station is that it has removable cartridges.  When I'm done laminating I can take out the laminating film and easily switch to an adhesive cartridge to make my own stickers, or I can use the adhesive magnet cartridge to make my own magnets.  The versatility of this machine is what makes it perfect for the classroom. 


4. The one tech tool that makes my list is the iPad. I know that many classrooms have sets of iPads for the students to use, but it is so helpful to have one dedicated for teacher use. I don't have iPads for my students, but I do use my personal iPad for school.  It is so much easier to send a quick email, check the weather before recess, find a you tube video to share with a small group, and take notes during a meeting on an iPad.  I always have mine with me, and I love that I am able to work on projects anywhere. I can read documents, look up articles, and collaborate with colleagues, all while I wait for an appointment to start or right from my comfy couch at home.  


5. Ok, I lied, there is one more tech tool on my list, a color laser printer.  There is just no way that I could possibly print everything I need for my classroom at school, but with my Brother Laser Printer, I might have a little too much fun printing stuff at home.  I actually just bought a new model because my 6 year old printer bit the dust, and I am so excited to hook up the new one.  In the long run, the laser printer is much cheaper than an inkjet, because you can print so many more pages with one set of toner cartridges.  The reason that I had to have one of these was so that I wouldn't have to worry about smudging the ink after it printed - and because I love to print full color documents and decorations for the classroom.  This printer is so fast, which is great because I happen to be very impatient!


6. The tool that saves my sanity is my miniature paper cutter. I am honestly terrified of the giant guillotine cutters.  When I was in third grade I watched my student teacher cut off the tip of her finger with one and have refused to use them ever since.  This little paper cutter may take longer, but at least I know that my edges will be straight and my fingers will remain intact! 


7. The biggest time saving tool in my collection is my circle punch.  I own three different circle punches, all in different sizes because I use them so often.  Cutting out circles by hand takes forever, and they never look like perfect circles, but punches take care of all of that! I use my circle punches to create game pieces, cut out circles for lessons and activities, make garlands for bulletin boards, and to make tags for artwork or parent gifts.  My favorite punch is the Fiskars Squeeze Punch because it is so easy to use, it was actually recognized by the arthritis foundation.  


8. The most surprising tool on my list is my sewing machine.  I've always loved to sew, and thank goodness too, because this machine has saved me a ton of money! I've used my sewing machine to make pillows and curtains for my classroom.  I've also sewn play mats, garlands, dramatic play costumes, and even tote bags for myself and my students.  Last year I made a class mascot for my room, and I've taken my machine to school to make scarves with my students.  Sewing is not hard, and many stores that sell sewing machines also offer introductory classes to help you learn how to use your machine.  You can really do a lot if you only know how to sew a straight line!


9. Another crafting tool that has migrated to my classroom is my hot glue gun.  I can make anything stick together with my hot glue gun.  Whether I'm fixing something that has broken (which happens a lot in a preschool room), or making something completely new, this is my go-to adhesive.  I firmly believe that you can make just about anything for your classroom with a hot glue gun!


10. The last tool on my list is an adhesive runner.  I hate glue. hate it.  I can't stand glue sticks because half the time the glue dries before I can stick the papers together, and the other half of the time I end up sharing them with my students, who get the glue all over their hands, and all over the outside of the glue stick.  School glue drives me crazy because no matter how hard I try, it always leaves wrinkles in the paper after it dries.  My solution is my adhesive runner. This thing is great because I don't have to use a ton of adhesive to know that it will stick.  My hands are never going to get sticky while using it, and I don't have to wait for it to dry.  I've used this for everything from classroom projects to wedding invitations.  I started out using the little one-use runners, but I went through so many of them that I finally broke down and bought the Glue Glider Pro, so that I just buy refills (again, thank goodness for Hobby Lobby Coupons). 


I love every single one of these products, and own each of them.  I do think that I may have a problem though - is it normal to ask for cardstock, adhesive refills, cutting blades, and hot glue sticks for your birthday?! I would love to know what gadgets have been lifesavers in your classroom, let me know in the comments!




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