I’m getting ready to teach a new class next year and now is the time to be putting in my order for supplies. The major suppliers (Mercurius, Paper, Scissors, Stone) usually offer discounts if you order early enough in the year, so it pays to stop what you’re currently doing and try to look to the future a bit. Here’s what I usually think about when putting together my order. I’ll also mention what I’m planning on ordering for my group of fifth graders next year.
Since so much of the students’ time is spent drawing, it makes sense to really think it through. The younger grades can get complicated as they’ll transition between crayons and pencils. My fifth graders will be drawing exclusively with colored pencils — the Lyra Giants. Last time around I switched to Lyra Rembrandts in sixth grade, but I just love the pigment and durability of the Giants so I’m considering sticking with them right through eighth grade.
I have always ordered boxes of single colors when it comes to purchasing for a whole class. This allowed me to replace the colors that needed replacing sooner than the others (red!) and I didn’t always like the color selection in the tin sets (who needs a white pencil? where’s the purple?). It’s not always easy to do it this way, though. For example, next year I’ll have 15 students, plus myself. I’ll need 16 sets of pencils and the individual colors come 12 in a box. I guess we’ll have a lot of left over pencils to be distributed over the course of the year.
Main Lesson Books
Every year I debate with myself about this choice. Here are the options:
- small or large
- portrait or landscape
- stapled or spiraled
- with onion skin or without
- traditional Mercurius books or RAAND books
I go through some of my preferences in this post. I’m reconsidering some of my choices, though. I’ll still stick with spiral-bound so we can bind our pages together at the end of the year if we want. I still don’t care for onion skin and would rather use loose blotter sheets if necessary. I also definitely prefer portrait orientation. I took a look, though, at the Mercurius books and I actually like the thicker, leather-like embossed cover and the slightly larger size. I still really like the RAAND books, so I’m thinking that I’ll end up getting whichever is more affordable.
Knowing how many to get and what colors is a little bit of a trick, though, because it is most helpful if you have your block rotation completely written so you can make sure you rotate books. We always needed a week at the beginning of the next block to finish up the work in the book of the previous block, so we always needed to switch books from block to block.
It’s also good to have this figured out so you know which blocks can share a book. For example, in fifth grade I know that all of my Ancient Civilizations will be going in one book. Greek History and Mythology will share a book. One book will have Math and another book will have Form Drawing/Free-hand Geometry. These books will then carry over into sixth grade. Botany will have its own book which will then carry over into sixth grade for Mineralogy.
Luckily my new school does a school-wide paper order, so I don’t have to think about that. But I do need to think about paint. In the past I have always used six Stockmar colors from fifth grade on — lemon yellow, golden yellow, carmine, red violet, ultra-marine blue, and prussian blue. I’ve noticed this year, though, that the Stockmar set does not include red violet but instead includes crimson (which is an orange-y red.) I’m not sure what I think of this. I’m inclined to stick with my tried and true — I really do like the red violet — but I think I’ll wait to see what the painting teacher in Sacramento suggests. Either way I will likely order the larger bottles of pigment so they’ll last awhile and I won’t feel too stingy with the good stuff.
This year I’ll need to order fountain pens, which though I search far and wide for a better, less-expensive option, I think I’ll be sticking with the standard Greenfield fountain pens. They’re serviceable enough and under $10 wholesale, which isn’t too bad.
I’ve always preferred blue ink for main lesson books. In eighth grade last time around I allowed my students to use black ink if they chose and in the end I regretted it. I think I’ll be a stickler this time — fountain pen, blue ink, in cursive — right through eighth grade.
I’ll also look to buy some clay to have on hand in the classroom. Last time around I always realized I needed it so late I had to rush out to the art store and buy it. It’ll be nice to have it on hand so we can use it whenever the mood strikes.
Other years things like flutes and recorders need to be ordered, but we’re good for this year. I’ll see about doing a separate post on the various instruments and when they are introduced.