Here is my personal list of simple pleasures and necessary items that keep me sane in the classroom throughout the day.
1. Nice Hand Lotion- Sometimes when things are really chaotic and I have a million things to do I like to take 5 seconds to myself and put on some nice smelling lotion. It's especially good if things aren't smelling to good in the classroom.
2. A Mini Fridge- I finally broke down and got one this year. I like to stock it with seltzer water and baby carrots.
3. Seltzer water- Keeps you hydrated and the bubbles feel nice for when you just need a sensory experience.
4. Baby carrots- Teachers often end up staying two or three hours after school ends. I find that baby carrots keep me going if I'm hungry for an after school snack.
5. Visine Natural Tears- A MUST!!! The children have pink eye often. Even when you send them to the nurse, a lot of times they are sent back to class because their parents are not going to pick them up. I got it several times my first year and the doctor always said just to use a natural tears eye drop. I use the natural tears if my eyes are irritated or even the least bit red and I haven't gotten pink eye since.
6. Aloe Vera Hand Sanitizer- I don't like to use too much of this, but sometimes things are just too gross to handle and with no sink in the room this is the only way to feel clean. Aloe vera keeps your hands from drying out.
7. A Spray Bottle (or two)- I have a big one that I fill with water and about a teaspoon of Ivory Dish soap and a teaspoon of baking soda. I use it to clean the tables daily. I find that it cleans marker, pencil, and crayon marks and has no chemical smell. Also, it's safe for the kids to touch so I often spray the tables and the kids love using paper towels to scrub them. I have a second smaller spray bottle just for water. You can use it for science experiments and if it's really hot in the room the kids love it when you mist them. It's important to keep it really clean since bacteria can grow especially if you're going to mist the kids.
8. Disinfectant spray- So many nasty things come up that soap and water won't cut it. I keep a real disinfectant spray in the closet. I have used it to clean up vomit, blood, and urine in the room (the janitors do not always come for such biological hazards).
9. Rubber or latex Gloves- When cleaning up vomit, blood, or urine one must use rubber or latex gloves. Ask the school nurse for a little bundle of them at the beginning of the year.
10. Vaseline and Q-tips- These go together for me. Each year I buy a little tub of vaseline and some Q-tips for those cracked and bloody lips the children often have. I dip a Q-tip in the vaseline and hand it to the child to put on their lips. I find that it's sanitary and works really well. Plus, sometimes kids need a little extra TLC and ask for it even if they don't need it and it's really inexpensive so I don't mind.
11. A First Aid Kit- The nurse will get really mad at you if you send kids to him/her with a paper cut. Always keep bandaids of all sizes in the room. I buy them at the dollar store. I find that one of those mini bandaids can really comfort a kid is crying because they have a "cut" you can't even see with a microscope. Alcohol wipes are also good for when you get a paper cut and can't wash your hands.
12. Baby Wipes- The cuts down on kids leaving the room. Especially if you are doing a project with glue, they can wipe their hands in the room. Sometimes I have the kids wipe the tables and chairs with them too if there is a lot of glue or if a kid is naughty and draws on the table.
13. Hand Soap- Our teachers bathroom never has any so I bring my own.
14. Saltines- When the kids are losing steam or if someone has a stomachache, I give them a saltine and it makes everything better. Plus, a lot of times, the kids complain of a stomachache because they haven't eaten breakfast. A saltine won't provide nutrition, but it will tide them over until lunch.
15. A metal canister- A veteran teacher gave me a large metal cookie canister after she saw me removing all of the contents of my closet and disinfecting everything because I had found mouse droppings. I didn't know that keeping candy in the closet would bring the mice. I keep all edible items (including my saltines) in the canister or the fridge or microwave and I haven't had a problem since.
16. Plain Hand Lotion- Eucerin or Vaseline have nice hypo-allergenic lotions that the kids can use if they have dry skin. When kids complain of bug bites, I also let them put a dab on their bites. It comforts them and has a placebo effect on the itching.
17. A microwave- They're very inexpensive these days. Without a teacher's lounge (I know many schools have this issue), it makes it convenient to heat up your lunch. It's also helpful for science projects where you have to heat water or if you want a cup of tea during the day. I once made pizza bagels with the children and we melted the cheese in the microwave. They loved it!
18. Plants- Having something natural and alive in the room really helps calm the mood. Plus, the kids love watering them.
19. An Extra Umbrella- When your holed up in a building all day, sometimes the weather changes and you're not prepared. I always keep and extra umbrella around just in case.