A Back To School List From a School-based Occupational Therapist (PDF included)

This past week my wife and I were browsing through our local Target. I am a school-based occupational therapist

and my wife is a now a 4th-grade teacher. Neither of us work in the school district we, or this target, reside in. 

So given the fact that we both work in education, you can imagine our excitement when we found this setup at Target (pictured) and realized that each teacher at the nearby schools had a handout for needed school materials.

Literally, each teacher, from each school had a handout in those little slots noting what students in their class would need. 

And while yes, I know, schools should be providing all the materials (hence, a FREE and appropriate public education) the reality is that teachers (and OTs) need help sometimes.

So yeah, I thought that was super cool. But it also got me thinking... 

What if OTs got to make a back to school list for parents to have? 

What would I put on my list of supplies Target puts out as Mr. Davies' list of occupational therapy supplies for your child.

So, I posted this picture to Instagram and asked @Target if I could put a list of OT supplies together for them including many items children could use to succeed in schools. 

I can assure you, @Target did not respond... But some of you did! A few of you raised your hands, using emojis of course. 

So then I started making a list and here it is. Keep in mind, this is not for any 1 age group...

Mr. Davies' List of OT materials to help kids succeed in school

  1. Three different types of pencils 

  2. Small or broken crayons

  3. A fidget (not a toy)

  4. Accordion file folder

  5. Something appropriate to chew

  6. Stickers

  7. Stylus

  8. Earplugs

  9. Words of encouragement

  10. Box

  11. Wiggle cushion


See our curated Amazon shopping list with these items

Click Here

(Amazon Affiliate link that supports the OT School House)

Get the list in a PDF handout form below!

Back to school list
Download PDF • 268KB


Some of these, of course, seem obvious to you who are OTs and special education teachers, but others may not. So I'm going to do two things below. 

First, I'm going to explain why each made the list. And then at the bottom of the post, you can download a cheat sheet of this list to do with as you will. So let's get started.

#1 Three Different Types of Pencils

Why 3 different types of pencils? Because you never know which one is going to work for a kid. Some kids do great with a small pencil, others prefer fat pencils. Who am I to judge. As adults we all have our preference, so why shouldn't our students. I am a believer in the idea that we all gravitate to what works for us. Hence, let your student have options and see what works for them.

Here are 3 pencils you may want to try out. (Click on the picture to view on Amazon)

Little pencils for little hands
Twist'n write Pencil

Fun Emoji pencils

#2 Small or Broken Crayons

Now, I love the look and smell of a brand new box of crayons as much as the next person. But sometimes we just have to break 'em. 

Crayons that are broken into small pieces, or just small in general, help children on the verge of developing in-hand manipulation skills and functional a pencil grasp. So the next time you see broken crayons about to be thrown out, grab those suckers and let the kids go crazy with them. 

Break some regular crayons or check out these tiny crayons.

Flip Crayons (Bulk)

Avengers Flip Crayons

#3 A Fidget (not a toy)

A toy is something a child actively engages with. It not only entices their hands but also their mind. A fidget, on the other hand, keeps the hand or hands busy with minimal exertion from the mind. Sometimes a fidget can even soothe the mind without even consciously trying to do so. Think of that coin in your pocket that you sometimes mindlessly flip in your pocket or the pen you click aimlessly at your morning meeting. 

If your student may need a fidget, check out these "fidgets" on Amazon. 

Infinity Cube

Fidget Cube

#4 Accordion File Folder

This is one for the kids who have some difficulty organizing their papers and homework. If you know a student who's binder really does look like the dog chewed it up, this may be something worth trying out. Find one that fits into the student's backpack and can be opened without having to take it out. Then, work with your student to label each section in a way that makes sense to the child.

Here's one from Amazon:

Accordion Folder