When I think of my struggles and frustrations from my first few years in the classroom, many of it revolved around all of the materials and resources I was accumulating and where the heck it was all supposed to go. My classroom storage has always been lacking, and there’s so much stuff. I tend to get behind and bogged down during the year and just throw things in places for a quick fix. Then I spend way too much time in the summer trying to organize everything while also vowing to never do it again (narrator: she does it again). I spend so much of my Back to School time organizing and cleaning from the previous year, and don’t spend enough time doing things that I feel like will help me make the next year better.
I’ve learned a few things: I need my classroom storage to be super affordable because I will have excuses and not buy something even if it will make everything so much better; and I need it to be a super easy to use system otherwise I won’t keep up with it once I’m in the middle of things during the year. I tend to look for the most affordable option, and many of these non-traditional storage solutions have been a lifesaver! Hopefully these quick and easy classroom storage tips will help you keep up with your never-ending piles of “stuff” especially during this crazy Back to School season.
Coupon organizers are great storage for task cards. They have dividers so you can sort by skill. Or, you can break apart a large set of task cards into smaller, less overwhelming portions. I use my coupon organizers to store my Fluency Task Cards that students use as a center. There are so many task cards, that I have them broken down into smaller chunks and students grab out one at a time. Coupon organizers are also perfect for fast finisher activities because students can keep them in their desk, or in a small basket.
It seems that nearly every classroom has one of these teacher toolboxes in them at this point. But, if you’ve been a hold out, take another look. These toolboxes are the perfect storage solution for all of those little things that get stored and lost in your desk. They’re an affordable and easy to use option to store all of the little office supplies that get lost in your desk. My building doesn’t provide desks but gives a movable podium with 5 super little shelves in it (which you can’t pull out therefore you can’t see what’s on the shelf). I literally would never find a paperclip or a new strip of staples if I didn’t have this toolbox behind my desk. You can see the specifics on this toolbox itself, and grab my teacher toolbox labels for free, by heading over to my Teacher Toolbox blog post.
I buy these super cheap photo albums at Dollar Tree. I think I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart as well. These plastic photo albums are usually only $1 or so, and are great organizers for items when you want to see what’s included. I hope they never go away as we print fewer and fewer photos because they’re one of my favorite classroom storage solutions!
I use them in my Word Work bins to store weekly spelling lists. I print the lists 4 to a page and then keep 4 albums in my bin (one for each student). The size fits easily inside the album and students can then quickly see both current and past words. Students practice the words in a variety of ways, and I love that the current list, and past lists are at their disposal. You can read my Word Work Ideas blog post for more ideas for a word work center or station in the middle grades.
I also use these photo albums to store my punch out letters that I’ve bought from the teacher store. I took out the front and back cover so I can see exactly which style is in the album. I typically store one letter per page. Because they don’t have quite enough pages, I store some of my lesser used letters (like x and v) together. It took a bit of time to get them in there, but it’s so much easier to find letters now and I actually return them to the right place when I’m done with them.
I also buy these little round food containers from Dollar Tree and use them to store so many things in my classroom. My favorite is using them to store bulletin board borders. I originally tried storing my borders by clipping them on a binder clip and then hanging them in a closet. It worked at first. But then every time I wanted a set, others would fall off on the clip. Or if I bumped it, they’d fall. These stack so nicely, I can see exactly which one to grab, and I can store a border for like 20 cents. I’ve also heard people using frosting containers, but I love that I can see what’s in these. Every once in a while, they’re too tall for the lid to close, but I just put that container on top of the others in my closet.
I hope you’ve found a few new classroom storage solutions that work for you. Storing and organizing all of our odds and ends can be a pain until you find the system that works for you.