5 Valuable Tips For Organizing Supplies In The Classroom
It’s time to take control of your classroom and turn it into a true oasis for learning! If you can, ditch your desks and opt for tables–then keep reading for 5 valuable tips for organizing supplies in your classroom.
Why Choose Tables Over Desks
Going in deep here—tables are the OBVIOUS choice! Why?…
Desks are always sliding all over the room. They NEVER stay in place. As you likely know, when you’re in a room of 15-25 desks and chairs, this can quickly become a tripping hazard and make it impossible to walk in your own classroom.
On top of that, kids always have their heads or arms stuck into the attached desk cubby searching for something so particular but can NEVER find it.
As a result, you’re redirecting kids all day trying to gain their focus. You’ll also inevitably have to stick your hand inside to help find the “missing treasure” only to be met with a mysterious slimy substance covering your hand when it emerges from the dark abyss…no thank you!
Tables are SO much better!!! No more items lost in Neverland, and you have fewer pieces of furniture to chase across the room when they slide.
Two main reservations that come up about making this big switch from desks to tables are:
- How do you keep the kids from talking? AND
- What do you do with all their stuff?
Well…the answer to question #1 is…. you’re a teacher..not a magician! Kids WILL keep talking no matter how you seat them.
But the answer to question #2 can be solved in 5 easy steps:
5 Ways to Organize Supplies In Your Classroom When Students Sit at Tables
1. Use Table Crates
Each table is assigned its own table crate. Students keep items that they use repeatedly throughout the day and/or week in their crate.
The table crates may include:
- take-home folders
- math books
- science books
- an expandable file (ESSENTIAL!)
The expandable file is to help the students further organize their materials. So, all of the journals and/or morning work booklets are kept together in the expandable file where they can easily be found and easily accessed when needed.
Buying Table Crates
You can find these crates from lots of different places in lots of different colors, especially in the summer when college students are getting their dorm rooms set up.
For the purpose of using these at tables for an entire year (and hopefully many more!), CHEAPER IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER. You may not have a lot of money to spend on things like crates and bins, but paying double the first time will save you time and money in the end.
2. Utilize Take Home Folders
Provide each student with a sturdy folder at the beginning of the school year which will be their “take-home folder”.
*This does not have to be provided by you, but could instead be asked for on a supply list sent to parents at the beginning of the year.
Label the pockets of the folder to help keep the lines of communication open with families and students: Leave At Home (LEFT), Bright Right Back (RIGHT). Then, when you pass back papers or when you all pack up your things at the end of each day, you take time to talk about which side of the folder each paper belongs on.
3. Include Table Baskets
Each table has its own table basket. Caddies with three compartments seem to hold up the longest and help students stay more organized (which is NOT naturally the forte of little children!).
To assist even more in this organization, use these FREE table baskets and table signs to label your caddies.
With the three compartments, these table baskets can be organized simply:
- Learning tools
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Provide each student with TWO sharpened primary-sized pencils labeled with their name.
*TEACHER TIP: Print out several sets of labels with students’ names on them. These can be used for SO MANY different things throughout the school year!
Each student has a 24-pack of crayons. Label these with their name and tape the bottom of the box shut to avoid “crayon catastrophes” as the weeks go on.
Each basket has two sets of learning tools so that they can be shared by the students sitting side by side.
*More information about how and when to use learning tools in our classroom will be coming in a future blog post!
These Phonics Learning Tools are the perfect addition to your table baskets! This set includes large-sized posters and small individual student reference cards:
- 26 alphabet cards
- 26 consonant blend cards
- 11 digraph cards
- 8 short vowel cards & y
- 6 long vowel cards & silent e
- 32 vowel team cards
- 5 r-controlled vowel cards
These phonics cards are an excellent resource for young students to use when reading, writing, and spelling and are perfect for full class, small group instruction, and independent work time.
Don’t forget to get your FREE set of table signs for your classroom!
4. Community Supplies
Store all other supplies that the students need in a cart with multiple drawers.
- Glue sticks
- Extra crayons
- & more!
*You can purchase one of these carts at Michaels or many other stores!
Allow your students to access the supplies in this cart whenever they need them.
Keep the knobs off and add these FREE drawer organizer labels to the fronts of the drawers to encourage students to maintain your organization.
5. Provide Clear Expectations
In all honesty, the only way to get this to go smoothly and ACTUALLY create true classroom organization is by providing CLEAR EXPECTATIONS!
That’s right…no matter how well you think it all through and no matter how beautiful you make it look, if you do not clue those kids in on what you expect, it’s still going to look like a disaster mode!
You need to clue them in on EXACTLY what it is you want them to do with those supplies and how you want them to do it:
- Show them how to use the crates.
- Model how to use the table baskets.
- Act out how to put papers in the take-home folders.
- Read specific social skills stories to help explain the expectations you have.
A great one that applies to classroom organization is this social skills story about Respecting Others’ Property.
Do these things over, and over and over again. It may take a little extra time, and it may seem a little redundant… but in the end you will be so glad you did!
Incorporate these 5 valuable tips to help you organize supplies in your table-based classroom. Along with a dash of your own creativity, your classroom will be the epitome of efficiency! Your students will be more engaged and focused, and you will spend less time hunting for lost supplies. It’s going to be a great year!!
Let me know if you have any questions about anything you see here. Don’t forget to pin this post to refer to it later!
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Thank you for being here! I love sharing ideas with other teachers! If you are looking to enhance your teaching and build a positive classroom community, you have come to the right place!