I must admit that I am always super excited when it’s time to buy more supplies for my preschool. When I was an Assistant Director, I had six classrooms that I was in charge of buying supplies for. That was school shopping heaven to me! Now that I just have my one classroom, my budget has weaned down substantially. There are certainly supplies that I feel are the best use of our money, so I wanted to highlight them for anyone who is buying for a preschool center, child care center, in home preschool, homeschool preschool, or Sunday School program. This is by no means an extensive list, but it is a bunch of my personal favorites. The first three areas I am going to share about are art, science, and math. To see the rest of the series you can click here: sensory play and fine motor activities, movement and music, and manipulatives and puzzles.
Please be sure to provide proper supervision with these materials.
Crayons: I love the twistables because they stay the same size, so I don’t have to worry as much about them getting too small and becoming a choking hazard. There is some training required in helping them twist it to a good height though.
Paint brushes: It’s great to have the chubby ones for new painters and skinnier ones as they become more proficient in painting.
Markers: Go for washable!
Scissors: We have the kind that won’t cut hair and also the kind that work really well. I save the ones that cut really well for the four year olds and older three year olds who have proven themselves trustworthy.
Liquid Watercolor: This is a food coloring substitute, and it is amazing!!! It is washable, and I almost couldn’t imagine life without it. You can find it at Discount School Supply.
Glue bottles and glue sticks: Some projects need liquid glue, but I am also a huge fan of glue sticks since it is easiest for a preschooler to use.
Play dough: We make a homemade recipe so that we can add peppermint to it, and it lasts longer than store bought too.
Shimmer: Okay, so this would be a splurge item. I just love adding glitter to our art supplies, so it’s worth it to us! I purchase “Make it Glitter” at Discount school supply and add it to paint and discovery bottles.
Paper: Get an assortment of colors. I usually buy this in bulk at Costco. I like to get tissue paper at the dollar store.
Pom poms: These are great for so many projects! I buy big bags through Discount School Supply or with a coupon at Hobby Lobby.
Chenille stems (pipe cleaners): I think that almost any project could use these in some sort of form. They’re great for science too as you will see below.
Googly eyes: I find these at my local dollar store, and there are fancy ones too with eye lashes and colored eyes (although I wish I could get those ones at the dollar store too).
Natural items: I rotate items such as sea shells, rocks, pine cones, leaves, etc. We have our own class greenhouse, so I do a lot with plants, vegetables, and observing growth. However, anyone can do something as simple as planting grass seed as pictured in the upper left corner.
Tools: These are just items to use to explore what they are observing such as a magnifying glass, tweezers, insect cages, butterfly tents, etc.
Photos of nature: Books are a great source for these. I love finding books at the library with actual photographs of what we are studying. My husband and I also love to photograph, and since we live in Colorado, we have lots of opportunities to take pictures of weather, animals, and other natural occurrences such as leaves changing color. National Geographic has some great magazines for children that offer beautiful pictures as well.
Class pet: Pets are wonderful source of learning for children. I have had classes with fish and guinea pigs, as well as an occasional visit from a class member’s friend from home. I have not had much luck with my last two class fish, so we’ve stuck with class plants for now.
Magnets: We are addicted to magnets…floating magnets, using chenille stems as magnets, magnetic white boards, magnetic letters, etc. I keep magnetic strips around so that I can make more magnets even. The floating magnets pictured in the above collage is from Discount School Supply.
Counting Bears: These have been my all time favorite math activity. Oh yeah, my classes have loved them too! They are available at any school supply store and amazon.
Number correspondence activities: Many of these can be homemade, or there are tons of printables online for them. The fish one pictured above is from obseussed.com.
Learning mats: Scholastic has put out a bunch of great learning mats. We have another one that is patterns too. These types of materials can be replicated and teacher made/homemade by laminating a math activity of your choice. I usually make ones for whatever unit we are studying.
Sorting activities: Many materials can be used to teach sorting, whether it’s by color, shape, or size. I used some buttons above that I bought from Oriental Trading Company. I chose these particular ones because they are not a choking hazard.
Patterns: Typically, lots of sorting objects can be used to make patterns too. We love to make patterns out of our snacks, finger puppets, and of course…counting bears!
Shapes: There are some fantastic ways to explore shapes. Pattern blocks and boards supply hours of fun in our class, and we also love shape puzzles. The self correcting puzzle above is from Discount School Supply.
Counting activities: The most successful way that we have learned to count is through our abacus. We count by 1s and by 10s. This is my “go to” object to see how high each child is counting. I must also admit that we spend lots of time counting to Jack Hartmann’s “Count to 100” song as well.
I hope you find these supplies and activities to be a source of inspiration for educating the little one(s) in your life. I am looking forward to sharing more activities in the rest of my “Preschool Supplies for Back to School” series.
This post has been featured on Discover and Explore through TeachPreschool.org: