Have you purchased all of the beautiful bins and tubs from Target and Michaels but don’t yet have a plan for how to use them? Or perhaps your classroom has a little bit here, a little bit there and a lot of stuff everywhere.. like my classroom used to be. Well, look no further. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your classroom organized and user-friendly for both you and your students.
My overwhelming advice for ALL of your organizational needs are LABELS! Yes… simple envelope labels. These are great because you can print on them, and massively stick them to everything. As far as my library, I have three different types of books that I organize. The first two sets are my picture books and chapter books that I organize by level. I cluster levels of books together, and sort them in the library in various colored bins so that students know what color of book bins they can look through. For example, my red group can get any books from the red bins, orange from orange, etc. As the year goes on, my students move through the various colored bins, and are always welcome to go back to any color they have had before. This is when those beautiful bins from the Target Dollar Spot or Dollar Tree come in handy. In order to easily keep track of how many books they should have, students have a “book shopping” day each week, in which they are allowed to refresh their books in their book bins during morning announcements. Grab this freebie for your library here. Grab my book shopping template free from my TpT store.
The third set of books that I organize are my seasonal books and items. Again, I stick envelope labels to EVERYTHING in the bin. This way, students can easily put them back in the correct bin when they are finished. I put my seasonal books and centers out and students know that they ALL can access these at certain times of the day, and that they never belong in a desk or book bin. Seasonal books are a huge hit in my classroom library, so I try to stock up on Scholastic dollar deals, points and other various sales and bonus points throughout the year. To snag these labels for your bins and label sheets, follow this link.
Once again, LABELS are going to be your BFF for organization! I have my math and reading centers organized in two different ways, mainly because I cannot yet afford to buy more of the beautiful Michael’s Photo Storage boxes. The most durable and affordable option that I have found for centers are large yellow envelopes. This is how I organize my reading centers. I laminate the directions, staple them to the envelope and then stick a label on the envelope with our unit number and/or the skill that the center reviews.
I use the beautiful Michael’s Bins to organize all of my math centers and I LOVE it! Each unit is a different color. For example, all of the teal photo boxes contain place value centers, all of the pink ones hold addition and subtraction centers, and all of the blue ones hold measurement centers. My math centers are clearly sorted by color and most often are labeled as “measurement center” on the directions, so I do not stick a label to these, though I easily could. On the front of my math centers, I shrink (to 25% or 4 to a page) the directions, print and use packaging tape to attach the directions for the center to the bin. Then, all of the pieces go right inside. I LOVE these bins because they are easy to sort, easy to store and easy for students to meander through when they are looking for a game. I try to keep a few different skills out at time, depending on what the kids need to practice/which centers they like. I put these photo boxes in our “Doing Math Games” bin and allow students to self-select which ones they want to play. I only let them go through the games that are out, and I keep the leftovers in the original plastic storage cases for easy storage and organization. I only use about half the photo boxes to store centers, and the I put the rest of my materials from that unit into the box. For example, I will store anchor charts, manipulatives, master copies, etc. in that box so that it is all in one place.
I also have seasonal centers, and as I mentioned above, I keep those in my seasonal bins. All of my seasonal reading centers are in yellow envelopes, and all of my seasonal math centers are in the Michael’s photo boxes, sorted by color (October=Orange, December=Green, February=Pink).
Another massive space manipulator are my flexible seats. Since I do not have my kids sitting flexibly all day, I like to keep my seats in my cabinets or in various “extra” spaces around the room that are neatly labeled and organized. Check out how I store some of my flexible seats below.
School supplies are the hardest because the size difference between storing 120 Expo Markers and 100 boxes of tissues present their own challenges. I like to store these supplies in my large storage closet in my classroom that is closed, so I don’t have to look at the clutter, and are clearly labeled so the kids and I can quickly find what we are looking for. To see how I manage community school supplies, you can hop on over to my blog post on that topic. Snag these school supply labels in my store to help make your organization easy today!
Finally, I have very few things that I keep master copies/examples of. These are very few and far between and are only things that I cannot easily replicate. For example, I keep one example of all crafts that we make so that I do not have to remake them the following year. I also keep all steps of my writing projects, so that I can easily post them without having to remake them, unless I want to do a shared writing example with my class. I keep these in a book bin behind my desk. I keep important anchor charts that I have laminated with my centers for that topic (ex. money anchor charts in the money center bin). I do NOT keep any paper copies of worksheets or consumable activities. Why? Because how often do you actually look through a file as opposed to just looking through your hard drive or browsing through TpT to update your curiculum to the newest and best materials? In my opinion, having paper copies is a waste of space in my classroom and adds to the clutter. If I have a great resource that I only have a hard copy of (such as something given to me at a PD or training), I scan it to my computer so that I can re-print from it digitally. My master copies and examples are stored on this bookshelf on the bottom shelf organized by unit.
Hopefully you found some helpful ideas and tips from this post. If you have any more insights or questions on this topic, please leave them below. Thanks and have a great day!