Storage for Word Work
Let’s start off with word work materials. If you teach in a primary classroom, you know there are a lot of materials associated with our word work supplies. It’s easy for our materials and word work centers to get out of control, ultimately cluttering our classroom. I have six word work bins in my classroom. This means that six students can choose to go to word work at one time during any given Daily 5 round. All of the word work bins contain the same thing inside. Every week or two, I switch out the materials in the bins that the students will use to practice their words. The students simply grab any of the six word work bins and find a spot in the room to work. My word work bins are numbered to make management simple. If a student has a problem or is missing material from their word work bin, they simply tell me the problem, along with the number on bin. This helps me track which bin needed the new materials, so that after school, I do not need to sift through six bins to find the one I need. I use the large Sterilite clip bins for our word work centers. I have had the bins in the picture above for about four years now, and they are still in great condition! The bins are sturdy and large enough to fit 8.5 by 11 inch pieces of paper and construction paper. You can get a pack of six bins HERE. Below is a picture of my word work bins.
Having six word work bins also means that I have to have six copies of whatever word work supplies my students will work with during the week. A few years ago, I dedicated a cabinet in my classroom strictly for word work supplies. I spent a great deal of time sorting all of my materials, and organizing them into separate bins that I can easily and quickly access. I believe strongly that taking time in the beginning to get organized, saves us a lot of time in the end! You can see a photograph of my word work cabinet below. I use the medium Sterilite bins to store the supplies for our word work bins. You can click this link to check out the Medium Sterilite Bins for my word work supplies. Inside the bins, are six sets of each word work supply. So, this means I have six baggies of crayons, six baggies of colored pencils, six sets of letter stamps, and so on. Storing them in separate baggies within the storage bins make it easy and quick to change out my word work centers at the end of each week. It’s a little costly to get multiple copies of all of the supplies, but it’s really nice to be able to throw the same word work center into all six of my bins because students do not get “bored” with the supplies, and management is simplified.
Grab these word work labels for free by clicking HERE or on the picture below:
Storage For Math Manipulatives
My math manipulative storage is similar to my word work storage. In the picture below, you’ll see that I have used the Medium Sterilite Bins once again, this time for math manipulatives. I have clearly labeled the front of each storage bin with the material inside, making it easy for myself, volunteers, and subs to find what they need for small group math. (The labels for my math manipulative bins can be found in my shop by clicking here.)
At one time, I have approximately six students at my small group math table. Therefore, each math manipulative bin contains six little baggies of materials. Again, this makes it much easier and faster to pass out supplies at the small group table. Small group time goes by quickly, and in my classroom, we do not have time to waste on passing things out. We have a lot of learning to do, and every minute counts!
Storage for Small Group Supplies
Keep bins of extra school supplies at your small group table. Eliminating the need for your students to bring items back to the table will result in faster transitions and more time to teach. I find that I use crayons, scissors, glue sticks, and sticky notes the most in my small groups. I also keep sharpened pencils and dry erase markers/markers back at my table. There is never any need for a child to bring their own supplies back to the table, unless we are completing or working on something special that day.
Storage for Teacher Read Aloud Books
I organize my teacher read aloud books into labeled book bins. I also keep an extra bin that subs can easily pull books from if they would need a “filler” read aloud during their day. This eliminates the substitute pulling a book to read off of your shelf, only to hear your students tell him or her, “We already read that!” Keep a few extra books that you have not read to your class yet in a separate “substitute read aloud bin.” (Neon Book Bins) My main teacher read aloud topics include: Back to School, Teacher Favorites, Holidays, Phonics, Nonfiction, and Poetry & Skills. In the Poetry and Skills bin, I have books that feature math topics, grammar skills, and books I use for our poetry unit.
Storage for Library Books
Eight years ago, I bought all of my library baskets for $1 each. Really! I got them at the Dollar Store and by cleaning and wiping them down twice a year (winter break and the end of the year), they have held up really well. Many people have asked me where my baskets come from, so I wanted to finally link them for you. Since eight years ago is a long time in “dollar store” life, they don’t sell the exact same colors as I had found long ago. However, I did find very similar ones on the Dollar Tree’s website here. The catch is that you have to get them in bulk, but since you get 48 baskets for $48, this is an amazing deal you could split with a friend!
Don’t forget about the school’s library books! Your students will need to have a space prepared ahead of time for the library books they return to school every week. Having a set place in your classroom for your students’ library books will also make your librarian happy, happy, happy! She will know exactly where to go and where to look if she needs anything specific from your students. We use a simple milk crate that sits on our back counter. It’s the perfect size for picture books, and it allows me to place a sign on the front so that students and the librarian can’t miss it!
Storage for Lost and Found Items
Keeping a designated spot in the classroom for lost items is essential for a tidy classroom. Teach your students to always, always, always check the Lost & Found bin before they are allowed to tell you or a friend, “I can’t find my glue stick!” I use a colorful garbage can for our Lost & Found bin. The taller trash can makes it easy to “hide” the clutter and mess from my “organized teacher eyes.”