Every teacher says there is nothing as fun and fulfilling as stocking up on new classroom supplies and decor. Locally, they do it at Chicago Teacher Store, the biggest and best educational resource shop in Chicago. Good news: This Bucktown favorite isn’t just for teachers; it’s filled with finds to enhance your own home playroom. Here are seven reasons to the love this shop … even if you’re not a teacher.

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1. A Dreamy Selection of Crafty Materials
You’ll find everything from glitter to glue guns, with many items available in bulk for large-scale craft projects. The giant jars of finger paint are great for toddlers and preschoolers, while every artsy kid will appreciate the selection of crayons in all shades and sizes.

2. Gifts (That are Secretly Educational)
Instead of buying yet another brainless birthday gift from the nearest big box store, go here for toys and games that are fun while also teaching a thing or two. Favorites include The Spelling Spider, a game that prompts kids to spell words correctly to keep a spider on its web; and Multiplication Connect Four, a strategy game that hones math skills. While you’re there, pick up a store gift certificate for the favorite teacher in your life.

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3. Penmanship Practice Books
Parents of middle grade students can usually tell by their kid’s messy handwriting that Chicago Public Schools no longer teach cursive writing. Grab a penmanship workbook or two to ensure that your kid grows out of his chicken scratch writing.

4. Hundreds of Resources to Combat “Summer Loss”
“Summer Loss” refers to the sad fact that many kids lose much of what they’ve learned in the previous school year while wiling away hot summer days. “My students always needed a lot of ‘refreshing’ in the fall; that seemed like a waste of time to me,” explains store owner Belinda Carucci, who for years worked at Chicago Public Schools. “I encourage parents to keep the learning going, even if it’s just with review books.” Store employees, most of whom are current or former teachers, will be more than happy to help you find workbooks, puzzler books, critical thinking cards and other educational materials that will keep kids on track despite the lazy days of summer.

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5. Geography Resources for Traveling Families
Make the most of your next trip by hitting the geography aisle, where you’ll find crossword puzzles, games, books and workbooks highlighting your upcoming vacation destination. You’ll find resources covering states and regions in the U.S. as well as countries all around the world.

6. Stickers & Stamps Galore
Whether you’re looking for shiny sticker stars to reward your potty-training toddler or smelly stickers for your tween, nothing beats selection here. You’ll also find a wide array of stamps — perfect for crafting your own greeting cards and stationery.

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7. On-site Laminating
Two laminating machines offer one of the best deals in the city: $1.50 a linear foot for in-house material and $2 a linear foot for material brought in from somewhere else. You can laminate posters up to 26 inches or even projects with lots of little pieces.

Chicago Teacher Store
1855 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Wicker Park
773-252-8200
Online: chicagoteacherstore.net

Have you shopped Chicago Teacher Store? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below.

— Amy Bizzarri