The best classrooms contain many things to keep students engaged, inspired, and still on task. For classroom teachers who move between study subjects and activities throughout the day, or who have different classes of students rotating in and out of the classroom, keeping everything organized can be a challenge. Supplies can quickly end up a jumbled mess rather than sources of inspiration and learning. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can keep your supplies stored and organized — a help to both teacher and student! (Homeschoolers, you can benefit from these ideas, too!) Read on for 6 ways to store and organize your classroom supplies.
Plastic Stacking Drawers. Plastic stacking drawers are perhaps the most versatile option for organizing your classroom supplies. They come in different sizes, can be stacked in a number of configurations, and hold a lot of stuff! Labeling the individual drawers — markers, paper, paintbrushes, etc. — make it easy to find things and makes clean-up simpler since your students know exactly where things need to go. If your classroom is organized into centers, having a set of drawers in each center — consider color-coding — creates colorful, accessible, storage.
Hanging Shoe Organizers. Hanging shoe organizers are great because they can take advantage of an otherwise wasted space — the back of a door, or any other vertical space. You can choose clear plastic, which is easy to clean, or sturdy cloth, which can be decorated. The individual pockets are great for paints, creative play props, and more. Label them with fabric paint or stickers so that students can easily find what they need and put it back properly. These holders also keep things in plain sight so it’s simple to know what you’re out of! A hanging shoe bag can also be a great place to store cell phones during class.
Magazine Holders. These are so versatile! You can choose sturdy plastic, heavy chipboard, and more. Give each student their own to decorate and then have them keep items like tablets (electronic and non!), headphones, and other key work items in them. The holder can be placed on the student’s desk or carried to a work area, then put back on a central shelf at the end of work time. Or use individual holders to keep projects-in-progress together, hold classroom devices such as iPads, or organize student paperwork. (They also work perfectly well for, well, magazines, too!)
Stacking Mail Sorters or Wire Baskets. They’re not just for your IN and OUT boxes anymore! These trays can help keep different kinds of paper organized — separate by color for construction paper, for instance. They can also be a central place for students to find notes and other items that need to go home with them. Worksheets, spelling lists, and other items that students can help themselves will stay better organized with these trays. Designate one for “no name” papers and have students check the tray regularly if they are missing an assignment they know they turned in.
Caddies. There’s something about portability that helps keep everything under control. Use plastic caddies with compartments to hold art supplies, project supplies, and more. When it’s time to work on something, students can grab a caddy with all the necessary bits and pieces — glue, colored pencils, scissors, and so forth — and take the whole thing to their workspace. When work time is over, the items go back in the caddy and the caddy goes back on the shelf. How easy is that? Picnic table silverware holders — the kind with three cups or baskets around a central handle — can be great for pens, pencils, crayons, and paintbrushes.
Rolling carts with drawers. These take the best potential of plastic drawers and make it portable. You can have a cart for each student, with drawers for each subject. Or you can create rolling stations with the carts — art supplies, handwriting practice supplies, building blocks — so that students can take what they need to where they are going to work or play. You’ll need a place to stash the carts when they’re not in use, but they make use of vertical space that might otherwise be wasted.