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What Teachers Need Most in 2018 (in Every Grade Level and Subject)

Back-to-school season is here! For teachers, it’s time to start setting up classrooms, creating bulletin boards, and planning the first lessons of the year. Meanwhile, the DonorsChoose.org team is getting ready to ship tens of thousands of boxes across the country full of the supplies teachers need most.
What are those boxes full of, exactly? We took a look at our data to figure out what materials teachers are requesting in every grade level and in every subject. There are plenty of familiar tools (books) and a few surprises (ukuleles). Read on to see what our data revealed!
The One Thing Teachers Need at Every Grade Level
One resource jumped out immediately every way we looked at the data: Teachers need books. It was such a common request that we left it out of the charts below to leave room for other interesting items. Popular books this year include The Hate U Give, Wonder, and The One and Only Ivan.
Most Needed Resources, by Grade Level
Grades PreK – 2
Along with some items to create the ideal classroom, like flexible seating and organizational tools, the most popular items at the younger grades focus on learning through play.
1
Activity Kits & Manipulatives
2
Flexible Seating
3
Art Supplies
4
Book Bins, Cubbies, & Organizers
5
Puppets & Toys
 
Grades 3-5
Play is still important as kids get older! And so are classroom essentials, like pens, paper, and markers.
1
Book Bins, Cubbies, & Organizers
2
Classroom Basics (Pens, paper, markers, etc)
3
Flexible Seating
4
Activity Kits & Manipulatives
5
Puppets & Toys
 
Grades 6-8
Technology starts to play a bigger role as students hit middle school, but analog teaching tools still rule: The most popular single item in this age bracket is a big pack of #2 pencils.
1
Classroom Basics (Pens, paper, markers, etc)
2
Book Bins, Cubbies, & Organizers
3
Flexible Seating
4
Listening Devices & Headphones
5
Computers, Laptops, & Accessories
 
Grades 9-12
As the lessons get more complicated, so do the supplies. From building a school garden to elaborate art projects, high school teachers are challenging their students to learn in every subject.
1
Classroom Basics (Pens, paper, markers, etc)
2
Plants, Seeds & Gardening Supplies
3
Computers, Laptops, & Accessories
4
Art Supplies
5
Book Bins, Cubbies, & Organizers
 
Most Needed Resources, by Subject
Literacy & Language
Omitting books from the list left us with plenty of book accessories! Teachers use wobble stools and floor cushions to give kids a comfortable place to read, and headphones for various literacy activities.
1
Book Bins, Cubbies, & Organizers
2
Classroom Basics
3
Activity Kits & Manipulatives
4
Flexible Seating
5
Listening Devices & Headphones
 
Math & Science
Math manipulatives are always essential, especially in the younger grades. But it was a surprise to see art supplies make the list here, and it’s even more evidence that teachers are integrating art into STEM in new and creative ways.
1
Activity Kits & Manipulatives
2
Computers & Tablets
3
Classroom Basics
4
Art Supplies
5
Puppets & Toys
 
History & Civics
Along with perennial favorites like Time for Kids, plenty of teachers are using new technology like virtual reality to bring history to life.
1
Classroom Basics
2
Computers & Tablets
3
Art Supplies
4
Listening Devices & Headphones
5
Activity Kits & Manipulatives
 
Music & The Arts
Meet our most popular instrument: The Ukelele! Art teachers are getting creative as well, adding technology like die cut machines to their classrooms along with basics like crayons and paint.
1
Paints & Brushes
2
Classroom Basics
3
Musical Instruments
4
Construction Paper
5
Crayons, Colored Pencils & Markers
Teachers, were you inspired by any of these ideas from your colleagues?
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