Teach By Design
Dec 14, 2021

Our Favorite Things 2021

We have 28 new things you’re just going to LOVE! From wireless chargers, to custom stamps with your face on them, here are the little things that will bring big joy to your day. It’s our Favorite Things for 2021!

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The Idea Box

Some days you just don’t have it in you to come up with a creative activity. Don’t stress! The Idea Box has you covered. There are 30 wooden tokens in each box with one idea on both sides – that’s 60 ideas you don’t have to create all on your own. You could use any of their boxes and modify them to fit your space. The boxes we think you’ll love are:

  • The Wiggle Box
  • The Teacher Box
  • The Quiet Time Box
  • The Senses Box
  • The Story Box

Spiky Finger Ring Fidget

This particular fidget is a favorite of ours because it’s quiet. It doesn’t pop or click. It isn’t sticky and it won’t fall apart into a million little pieces. You wear it like a ring. The metal is coiled just tightly enough to apply pressure as you move the ring up and down. Some of us might even have one sitting standby on our desk (just in case) right now.

Mr. Monroe and Nala

Josh Monroe is a 5th grade teacher who just so happens to have more than a million TikTok followers. In every post, he highlights the thoughtful ways teachers support students in their classrooms every day. We love his point-of-view posts the most where he shows what it’s like to engage in conversation from his students’ perspectives. (The one about bullying is particularly poignant).

Wooden Roller Foot Massager

One day, kindergarten teacher Maria Manore Gavin decided to count her steps to see how much distance she covered in a week doing her job. She nearly walked a half marathon in just five days at school. You’re on your feet a lot. When students leave and you finally sit down, why not treat your tootsies to a massage. This wooden roller foot massager is small enough to fit under your desk or even in a drawer so it’s out of sight until you need it. It’s such a nice way to add a little self-care to the end of your workday.

Read Like a Rockstar – Naomi O’Brien

Naomi O’Brien has a bit of a fan club around here. Not only does she have excellent resources for early elementary instruction, some of her best work comes in her approach to talking with young students about race and racism. Naomi and her teaching partner, LaNeesha Tabb, knew they weren’t going to find much out there to help them introduce this topic to their younger learners, so they created their own. They developed a lesson plan, a series of ebooks, and they did it all in a way that still meets common core standards. She knows her students can handle these important conversations and we love her for sharing her strategies with all of us.

Crayola Skin Tone Crayons

In 2019, Crayola asked Victor Casale, a cosmetic chemist, to help them create a new set of crayons that would better represent the diversity of skin tones from around the world. The Colors of the World Skin Tone set launched in May 2020 and this year, The Toy Association named them its 2021 Creative Toy of the Year. You can even snag these colors as markers or colored pencils!

Burt’s Bees Honey Pot Gift Set

With the winter weather and ALL the hand washing, our lips and hands need all the balm they can get. Burt’s Bees has lots of gift sets to choose from. We love this one because it includes their iconic lip balm to replace the one you always lose, some hand cream to moisturize your knuckles after another yet another round of sanitizer, and some foot cream to soothe your toes at the end of the day.

Customizable Teacher Stamps

Folks, check this out! These stamps are such a great idea. If there’s one thing you’re going to do this year it’s grade some assignments. Stop drawing stars and smiley faces and get to stamping! This Etsy shop will make you a stamp with your face and a custom message on it. Tell your students you love their effort and their assignment gets your stamp of approval. The options are endless.

Portland Gear Face Masks

Is it fair to say everyone has a face mask style or brand they love? Well, we love our face masks from Portland Gear. Marcus Harvey is a University of Oregon grad who started the Pacific Northwest apparel company when he saw how many people wanted to show off their love of Portland in the clothes they wear. They added face masks to their inventory in the last year and these things are great. They’re super soft on the inside. They have adjustable straps around the ear and a nose wire to create a perfect fit for your perfect face.

F in Exams

Do you ever come across an answer on a quiz that’s so funny you do a spit take with your latte? You’re not alone. F in Exams is a compilation of some of the funniest wrong answers to test questions you’ve ever seen. For example, when asked “What is a fibula?” one student responded with “A little lie.” We love this book because it’s full of little laughs to pick you up throughout the day.

Target Drive-up Pickup

One of our favorite innovations over the last year is the way businesses committed to all the new contactless delivery options. When Target announced their drive-up delivery option, there was a collective gasp heard round the world. Truly it changed everything. Skip the crowd. Skip the lines. Skip the searching through aisles and shelves. You just get on the Target app and order whatever’s in the store. They’ll bag it all up and bring it to you while you wait in the comfort of your own car. You can stay in your house clothes and no one ever has to know!

Custom Fields Numeric Type

Custom fields give you a way to collect the referral details you couldn’t get from using just the required fields. Now, along with a custom drop-down list, now you can set up a custom field for entering numeric values. It’s not a straight-up open field – you can’t enter letters – but, you can enter any number you want…or even set up minimum and maximum values to limit things a bit. We know you’re going to have tons of ideas for how to use this feature – tracking minutes out of class, the amount of time spent in a break area, the number of students involved in an incident. The possibilities are endless.

Wireless Charger

We all set our phones on a table throughout the day. Why not turn such a mundane action into more battery life. We LOVE a wireless charger. Set it on the corner of your desk and give your battery a boost. When you get a phone call, pick it up and start walking…because you can…because you’re untethered! You could even get a few for your classroom and set up a wireless charging station for your students.

Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books is a reading program that encourages students to read good books and have fun competing with their grade-level peers. Students form teams and commit to reading a set of 10, 20, or 30 books. When the battles begin, two teams meet up to answer a series of questions about the books and the team with the most points at the end wins. If the competitive side of Battle of the Books isn’t for you, the book list is always full of excellent titles your students are sure to love.

Storyline Online

Storyline Online is exactly what its name suggests – it’s an online home to listen to some great children’s books as read by some of your favorite famous people. Listen to Viola Davis read Rent Party Jazz or Lily Tomlin reading Hey That’s My Monster. The production value for these videos is top-notch because the whole site is run by the Screen Actors Guild. Every video comes with an activity guide outlining the common core standards for the lesson as well as what to do before and after students listen to the story. Bookmark this site ASAP!

Chemical Kim

Science is awesome and so is Chemical Kim! She is a full-time professor at Florida Southwestern State College and a motivational science education speaker. She’s on a mission to use science to “motivate students to investigate their world through experimentation.” Her posts are joyful and sure to add just the right amount of creativity to any science lesson you’ve got planned.

Teacher Discounts

There are perks to being a teacher. Discounts are one of the perks! Did you know you can get 20% off a Ring doorbell? Adidas will take 30% off when you purchase a new pair of kicks. Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and more all have discounts available to make technology more accessible to you and your students. Check out all of these deals and so many more. Get your free stuff!

Habit Tracking Calendar

You’ve got goals. I’ve got goals. We’ve all got goals we’re working on. For example, I’d like to drink more water during the day. Some of us can just set a goal and start working toward it. Some of us need a little more help than that. A habit tracker is one way to not only keep track of how you’re doing at meeting the goal you’ve set, it also gives you a clear picture of all the work you’ve put into achieving your goal along the way. We love data around here and a habit tracker is one way to keep track of your own personal data every day.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer might just become a perpetual favorite thing from now until forever. We haven’t stopped finding brands and formulas we love. We’re a sucker for some good packaging around here, so maybe that’s why these power mist sanitizers from Touchland ended up on our list this year. They come in a slimline canister and in a variety of scents (unscented, too, for those of us who prefer it). Keep yourself germ free with one of these gems!

Lapdesk w/ USB light

If there’s one thing we’ve learned working from our homes, it’s that sometimes sitting in a comfortable chair is the best place to get your work done. Whenever you find yourself away from your desk or you’d just prefer to sit somewhere else, a lapdesk provides the perfect surface to accommodate any location. Our training team lead, Jessica Daily, uses this exact lapdesk all the time so you know it’s good!

PBISApps Self-Guided Courses

Why limit trainings to happening in hotel conference rooms when you can attend from the comfort of your own home at a time when it’s convenient for you? Available on our website 24/7, these online training modules offer the same fidelity and effectiveness as our in-person trainings while letting you move through them a ta pace that works with your schedule. Our current modules are geared toward school-level SWIS Suite roles, but stay tuned! We will be adding more self-guided modules to our training library soon!

The New PBISApps.org

Everyone needs a refresh, even websites. In May this year, we launched a new version of our website with a more modern, innovative, and interactive feel. The content on the site is more discoverable, which just means when you find a resource you’re looking for, we’ll suggest a few others to explore when you have a little time. Have you tried the search function? It’s the best! We’re always working on details to add to the overall site, so let us know what you'd like to see.

Vaccine Card Protector

Our one gripe about our vaccine cards is how it doesn’t seem to fit neatly in a wallet. We want to keep it from getting folded or torn and we want to be sure it doesn’t get wet and smear the ink. Enter the vaccine card protector. These protectors range from the very basic plastic covers to more stylish leather covers. If we need something to protect this piece of paper, it may as well look cute, too.

Blackforager – Alexis Nikole

You know those accounts on social media that show up on your discovery page and you’re not sure how they ended up there, but now they’re one of your favorite accounts in your feed? Alexis Nikole – aka Blackforager – is one of these accounts. Alexis is a forager out of Columbus, OH. She’s obsessed with finding local vegetation she can use to make delicious food in her kitchen. She is equal parts environmental scientist, chef, and comedian. I mean, check out her post about hackberries and tell me you didn’t laugh.

UltimateGuitar App

Some of us picked up a musical hobby over the last year and UltimateGuitar was there to teach us how. The app is essentially an enormous library of song tabs for some of your favorite songs ready to be played by any skill level. If you don’t know how to play and you’re looking to learn, there are free courses available in the app to teach you what you need to know. There’s a paid version with premium features and an ad-free experience, or sign up for free. Whether you’re a guitar hero or you’ve always wanted to learn, we think UltimateGuitar will be just the thing to keep your music alive.

The Literacy Playground for Kids & Families!

The National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) partners with literacy experts from universities like our very own University of Oregon to increase student access to evidence-based approaches addressing literacy-related disabilities. The Literacy Playground is an incredible kid zone where students can find books to read or have read to them. There are even games they can play to develop their literacy skills. Everything on the site is free to use and rooted in research. It’s all a win-win.

Aesthetic Office Supply Storage

A good office supply is like gold. You won’t catch us loaning out our good pens and we’d hate to misplace those sharp scissors that glide through paper like butter. Why not keep your favorite office supplies organized in something that looks good and makes finding what you’re looking for super efficient? We liked this one from Easthill because it’s big enough to hold every supply you have and it comes in a bunch of bold, beautiful colors.

TeaDrop Sampler

Tea is nice. Tea in the afternoon feels special. Sometimes we’re rushing around and don’t have a full five minutes to brew a proper cup. Tea Drops is the answer.Its founders wanted to create an environmentally friendly, convenient, and high quality tea. They take organic tea leaves, grind them up, and press them into fun shapes you drop into your favorite cup full of hot water. Stir it around and enjoy! Grab a sampler and find your favorite flavor!

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Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.