It's back-to-school season again! Sites are a buzz with tons of products to buy, buy, BUY!
And sure they're all fun, but what do you really need? Are you a new teacher with a limited budget? What will you use year after year? While new props can be exciting and fun, the reality is you probably won't use most of the suggested items consistently across multiple ages of students. Here is my top 5 list of things (in no particular order) that I use in my classroom every year.
1) Scarves or Ribbon Wands - The perfect props for young students. They can be used to increase motor development, creativity, free play and they can visually demonstrate musicality. For your older students, they make great props or teaching aids for certain skill development exercises. You don't need both. Personally, I think scarves are more versatile. Plus, the wand won't accidentally break or be used as a weapon. So, make a choice and just purchase 1.
Favorite Scarves: Novelty Place Dance & Juggling Scarves
Favorite Ribbons: NICHNAOO 4 Meter Dance Ribbons
2) Gaffers tape - These are more useful than poly dots, in my opinion. Mainly because, students can't pick them up as easily. I like how you can write on them or change up the color monthly to provide a tiny bit of excitement to your younger classes. I also use them for formations during recital season so I don't have to remember where all of my young ones stand. Finally, they help students transition from classroom to stage by bringing a sense of directional familiarity.
Favorite Brand: 1/2 inch Gaffer Power (This lasts me a couple years)
1 inch Gaffer Power (The better deal)
3) Children's books - I'm a big fan of literacy and books come in handy for so many situations! They are a great way to build or introduce new dance vocabulary. You can use them to inspire your dancers while they wait for class. They help students connect their feelings through a relatable story (This is especially helpful with a book on recital preparations). Books also make great stimulation breaks for individuals or as a whole class. I use them in the middle of my lesson to bring the energy level down and maintain engagement on those wild and crazy days.
You don't need to purchase many books. A select few will work wonders. Besides, kids love reading the same thing over-and-over. Take a look at our free children's book list for some great options.
4) Resistance bands - These are great classroom tools for the obvious reason; strengthening. However, they can be used in so many ways. My youngest students love when I use them to make obstacle courses. Ponds, Rivers, Limbo ropes, balance beams...your imagination is your limit!
Favorite brand: Therapist's Choice - Color: Blue
5) Cleaning supplies - Even though you may have a water only policy, there's always a spill or mirror to cleanup. That is why I always have 409, Windex (or other cleaners of your choosing), a roll of paper towels and one absorbent bath towel on hand.
Looking for a more extensive classroom list? Is your budget a bit larger? Check out our previous blog, Back-to-School Classroom Checklist, for other useful classroom tools.