How to Share Classroom Supplies During COVID Pandemic

Sharing classroom supplies is a regular occurrence in elementary classrooms, but how will a global pandemic change this practice? Here are some suggestions for how to share classroom supplies safely during COVID-19 and physical distancing.

Children's hands on globe with text, "How to Safely Share Classroom Supplies During the Covid Pandemic."

Classrooms are going to look and function very differently for the foreseeable future. The COVID-19 pandemic has put children and adults alike at risk, and the research about transmission from surfaces is contradictory.

What we DO know, is that until there is a vaccine, it just makes sense to take all the precautions that we can to reduce the risk of spread from person to person. This means some potentially significant changes in your classroom.

What Can Reasonably Be Shared?

Many of the traditionally shared classroom supplies such as scissors, colored pencils, glue sticks, and other office-type supplies can be purchased in enough quantities so that each student has a personal amount.

I do understand that some communities and schools do not have the financial means to purchase these things for every child, so considering the must-haves, reaching out to local businesses, or asking for donations might be some strategies to consider.

Other classroom tools such as manipulatives pose greater sharing difficulty because most classrooms do not have these in massive quantities. There are some ways to get around these hurdles.

5 Ways To Share Classroom Supplies:

Business As {Almost} Usual

One way that you can continue to share some of your classroom manipulatives between students is through thorough disinfection between uses. Regulations about the products you can use in your classroom will vary from district to district, and maybe even from school to school. It is essential to check with your administrator and custodial staff to find out the specific details for your building.

Also, keep in mind proper disinfection protocols for hard and soft surfaces.

One of the challenges with this strategy will be how limited you are with using these supplies if they have to be cleaned after every student uses them.

Add Digital Tools to Your Rotation

To stretch your supply and help out with availability, you might want to use both your current classroom tools AND some digital formats at the same time. This will engage more students at one time and mean that you can make do with fewer hands-on materials.

This is especially handy with math manipulatives.

Digital Classroom Manipulatives

Individual Manipulative Kits

If you have enough supply, preparing individual student manipulative kits is a great idea! These basic personal supplies could contain:

  • base ten blocks
  • counters
  • pattern blocks
  • linking cubes
  • dice
  • any other regularly-used manipulative that you have in enough quantity to divide in this way

Personal kits can be stored in plastic containers from the dollar store, or even in large Ziploc bags with each student's name clearly labeled.

Go 100% Digital

If you have enough technology in your classroom, digital tools are a fabulous way to reduce the risk of contamination. A keyboard or device touchscreen is far more easily cleaned each day (or multiple times per day!) than hundreds of little pieces.

I have been working on creating digital versions of the math and literacy manipulatives that I have used most often during my teaching career. You can take a look at these here:

Use Printable Versions

One final idea for using classroom manipulatives safely is to give each student a set of printable paper alternatives. While not the most environmentally-friendly option, we are dealing with different times and need to do what we must to support our students.

I have created printable math manipulatives for your math lessons AND printable letter tiles for your word work and spelling activities. You can grab both of these FREE right here! Click on the images to access your copies:

I hope these tips for sharing classroom supplies during the COVID pandemic are useful! Drop me a comment below and share what your strategies are for making sure your classroom is safe this year!

You might also be interested in the information I've shared in this blog post:

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it with friends and colleagues on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest:


  1. Thanks a bunch for the freebies. These will definitely be used a lot.

  2. What’s your ideas on stations/centers? I’m struggling to come up with a good idea without making 20 of every stations

    1. Hi Madison!
      It really depends on the center. I created the printable manipulatives above so many can still be used with those. If you have something specific in mind, email me at questions {at} and we can chat!



Connect with me!! I love reading your comments and will respond as soon as I can!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.