As teachers prepare their classrooms for the upcoming school year, organizing the classroom and supplies becomes a top priority. A well-organized classroom promotes independence, cleanliness, and efficient learning. In this blog post, we will explore seven tips for organizing the classroom supplies, focusing on creating independent access, the importance of labels, strategic placement of supplies, and tips to maintain organization. By implementing these tips, teachers can create an environment that supports student independence and maximizes learning opportunities.
Tip 1: Sorting and Selecting Your Supplies
Before you start organizing your classroom supplies, it’s important to assess what you currently have and determine what you need. Group your materials and supplies in similar categories, based on how they will be used. Make an inventory of your supplies and make a list of any items that are running low, that may need to be replaced, and make a wish-list of what you are missing. Keep in mind, that if it is your first year teaching kindergarten, you may not know the items you will really need. You can check out this list of my must-have items for kindergarten.
I would strongly recommend not throwing away curriculum or materials or buying a ton of new things before starting your school year. You just don’t know yet if you will need them or not. I’ve wasted a ton of money on buying things I thought I needed for my classroom and ended up getting rid of untouched years later. Once you figure out what materials you have and what they will be used for, you will need to decide where to put them.
Throughout the year, I keep a little document on my computer for supplies I wish to order for the following year. Any ideas I have I jot them down! I write down any materials that worked really well that I want to order again as well as any materials I definitely don’t need more of. And let me tell you – my summer brain thanks me every year! This also helps to prevent me from going to the Target Dollar Spot and buying everything in sight… which is much easier said than done.
Tip 2: Independent Access to Materials
Consider how students can access materials independently. Any supplies that the students are allowed to use, should be within their eyesight and reach. Any supplies that students are not allowed to use should be put out of sight and reach of students. Use clear bins when you can and provide images and labels for easy identification. Keep the student materials in designated spots with similar types of materials and try to avoid overcrowding.
If everything has its own spot, then students will know where to put it when they are finished using it. Students should be responsible for both getting out and putting away their materials, but it’s your job to set them up for success by following these ideas. Another way to help students be independent with the clean-up of materials is to attach photos of the clean, organized spaces to help students see what is expected of them for cleanup.
Tip 3: Importance of Labels
Label all your materials and supplies in the classroom to assist students in locating and returning items. This helps promote independence and supports classroom cleanliness. It also can support some literacy development by associating words with corresponding objects. Labeling is an essential step in organizing your classroom supplies. By clearly labeling each item or storage container, you make it easy for both yourself and your students to find and put away supplies. Use labels that are easy to read. But always include a photograph or visual for students to understand what the label says. You may consider using color coding or symbols to further differentiate between different types of supplies. For example, you could use blue labels for art supplies and red labels for writing materials. You could also differentiate this by the color of the bin the materials are in or with their location (grouping like items together).
Tip 4: Strategic Placement of Supplies
Group supplies with similar materials and consider the traffic patterns of children getting to those areas. For example, if the only place to get glue sticks is in one bin, how will it look if you need every student to get a glue stick. You can also mitigate this by having a supply helper as a classroom job. This person can be in charge of passing out the glue sticks to everyone (that’s what I do!).
Create designated areas for different types of supplies and how they will be used. This will make it easier for you and your students to find what you need when you need it. Consider creating separate areas for art supplies, writing materials, math manipulatives, etc. By creating designated areas, you can keep your classroom supplies organized and ensure that everything has its own place. I even do this with my teacher supplies in my cabinets. I put like items in bins so I know if I need a craft supply, I just have to grab that bin and take a look.
Tip 5: Use Bins
One of the most effective ways to keep your classroom supplies organized is by using storage containers and bins. Bins help to contain all the materials in one spot. Invest in a variety of containers in different sizes to accommodate different types of supplies. Clear plastic bins are a great option as they allow you to easily see what is inside without having to open each container. I really like the Sterilite bins (you can get them from my Amazon storefront or Target) but they can be expensive. So, look for a sale!
Consider using stackable bins if space is an issue. Additionally, you can use smaller containers within larger bins to further categorize and separate supplies. Bins not only help with organizing, but they also make it so much easier for students to find and put away supplies, clean up, and be independent. Remember to label each container to ensure that everything has a designated place, even if the bin is see-through!
Tip 6: Continuous Improvement
Remember that organizing the classroom is an ongoing process. It’s unlikely that everything will be perfectly organized before the school year starts, and that’s okay. Prioritize the areas that need immediate attention and make adjustments throughout the year based on student needs, feedback, and reflection. Continuous improvement allows for a better understanding of the space and materials, leading to more effective organization over time. It takes years to get it just right, and even now I’m still looking for ways to reorganize!
Look for inspiration and ideas from other teachers, professional development resources, or online platforms. I share a ton of ideas on my Instagram and Pinterest! Discuss with colleagues and visit their classrooms to see how they organize materials! Try out different ways of organization until you find a system that works for you and your students!
You can also spend time at the end of the year re-organizing messes. As well as making sure that your supplies and materials are organized in the best way possible. Every year I make my systems better and more efficient… but then I need my organization to catch up. I take it area by area. And if I don’t get to an area, then either I decide to do it over the summer or I make sure to do it the following year. It doesn’t have to all be perfect before the first day of school, and it won’t be.
Tip 7: Encourage Student Involvement
Involve students in the organizing process. Teach them how to maintain the organization systems in the classroom by explicitly teaching the expectations and routines of the class. You can also assign students specific classroom jobs and responsibilities, such as keeping certain areas tidy or handling supplies. By including students in the organization process, they develop a sense of ownership and become active participants in maintaining an organized classroom.
Organizing the classroom supplies is essential for creating an environment that supports student independence and maximizes learning opportunities. By implementing the seven tips discussed in this blog post, teachers can establish efficient systems, promote cleanliness, and enhance student engagement. Remember that organizing the classroom is an ongoing process, and it’s important to involve students and seek inspiration from various sources. An organized classroom sets the stage for a successful and productive school year.