The Essential Learning Materials Every Classroom Must Have!

Kids actively learning in class

Are you setting up a new classroom, or moving towards hands-on learning instead of traditional, worksheet style of teaching? It can get overwhelming looking at all the different resources out there. So I want to simplify it for you! Here are the must have hands-on learning materials that every Elementary classroom needs. Each of these materials can be used in sooooo many ways with so many subjects.

1. Dice

Dice can be used for reading games (get my roll and read phonics games free here), math games, really ANY kind of games! You can use it during group work to divide tasks or questions to different students.

Look at the example on the left. Students roll the dice and answer the question about their book. You could use the same “roll the dice” method to answer questions in any subject and any topic.

Click the button below for a free blank template you can edit!

Have your students create their own board games to play, that is a great way to finish up a unit and incorporates a lot of critical thinking skills.

2. Deck of Playing Cards

Playing cards are another essential material that can be used in so many ways in the classroom. Use playing cards to group students: they draw a card and all the hearts get together, all the spades get together etc. Use playing cards like flashcards. The student flips over a card and counts that many objects to match. Flip over two cards and add them together or subtract the smallest card from the biggest.

Use playing cards to make fractions and have students decide which fraction is bigger.

3. Letter Tiles

When I saw “letter tiles” I mean any kind of moveable letters. You can print letters, cut them apart and laminate them like the picture on the left. You can also buy Scrabble letter tiles, foam letters, letter stickers etc. Use the letter cards as examples and have little learners practice making these letters out of anything. My post Simple and Fun Ideas for Teaching Letters can give you some great ideas!

If you students already know their letters you can use letter tiles to practice spelling words. Here are 8 Activities You Can do with Scrabble Tiles.

Students can combine spelling with math by adding up the numbers written at the bottom of the Scrabble tiles like this example from TheKFiles

4. Plastic Sleeves/ Page Pockets

There are so many times I want to use a worksheet or template in a center but I either don’t have time to laminate it or I just want to use it one day and laminating isn’t really necessary. That’s when these handy dandy plastic sleeves come in soooooo handy. Print off a worksheet, slip it in the sleeve and let students build on it, stick playdough to it and even write on it using dry erase markers. This is such a time-saving material that you NEED in your classroom!

5. Flat Counters/ Bingo Chips

Bingo chips are a cheap manipulative that can be used for multiple activities! Bingo is a fun way to review so many topics. My students love reviewing vocabulary using bingo.

I would use free bingo card generators like this one and type in 24 vocabulary words. Then I either show a picture or say a definition and students have to find the matching word on their bingo card and cover it.

Other ways to use counters/ chips:

Making patterns like the picture at the left.

Counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing in math. A concrete, visual way to introduce foundational math skills.

Counters also make great game pieces for student created board games or other board games you print.

With these 5 basic classroom essentials you’ll have what you need for hours of hands-on activities for any subject!

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