As many teachers are getting their classrooms set-up right about now, I thought this would be a good time to talk about organizing the classroom and supplies. It is very important to me that everything have a place in my classroom and that there is a label with a visual on it.
Organizing the classroom with labels is important to me because it supports all students in so many ways. First, labels help our students to be independent. If they know where to get supplies or clean up supplies, they can set-up for a project and clean up independently, even if they didn’t take the supplies out.
Visuals are important for labels because then all students can access the information – striving readers and English language learners. They also help students use the labels as strategies for their writing and reading. If they need to write a word, but don’t know how to spell it, my students know they can use the labels around the room to help them write.
Organizing the Classroom and the Layout
I also try to think very carefully about where I put supplies. I want my supplies to be grouped with like materials, but I also want to think about the traffic pattern. I don’t want there to be a traffic jam of students trying to get out the same materials. I also try to be very clear about what supplies are teacher supplies and which are students supplies.
On the supply shelf pictured above I put writing paper, with a picture in the front of the kind of paper it is, extra coloring and writing tools (their table bins are in a different area and has a set of supplies for every student), and math tools for the students to take as needed or for different stations.
These white IKEA shelves are where I keep my read alouds and small group supplies. It is clear that it is just for teachers, as it is behind the horseshoe table. I also keep guided reading texts grouped by level to the right so I can easily plan for groups.
On the rug area, I keep a lot of teacher supplies, but they are still labeled so students know where to look for things if needed or know what I am getting out.
Organizing the Classroom Library
My library is organized by half by level and half by interest or author. I let me students take from a range of levels and interests. I work with my students on choosing “warm-up” texts that are easier and then challenging themselves with texts that have some unknown words (just not too many or that would be frustrating!). I just got this new shelf and bench at the end of the year and it’s my first time with books not all in bins. So far, I like it! I have now added stickers to match the labels so that students (and other teachers) know exactly where to put the books back).
My desk area has these paper shelves that I organize my files for upcoming and current units. I organize them by subject (literacy, math, science/social studies, social/emotional and then a general TO DO pile on top). I also keep my sub tub here so it is easily accessed but also put away when it’s not needed.
I keep copies in these bins by day that I will use them. I tend to prepare weeks in advanced, because it makes me feel less stressed, and these organizers are so helpful for this. I like that they are open so I can see the copies I have made, or else I might forget! I also put them right near the rug so that if I forget to grab the copies before my lesson, it is very easy to grab them during my lesson without leaving the rug area.
Charts…. it took me so long to figure out how to store them! Of course I have some charts that I make fresh with my students, but I also have charts I use year after year for our Teacher’s College curriculum. I laminate the paper and velcro the laminated stickies from Lucy Caulkins’ curriculum and then I can reuse them from year to year!
Then, I store them in my closet and hang the charts using binder clips and hangers! Also, I organize them by unit so I can easily flip back and forth between the different charts I need!
Organizing the Classroom’s Extra Supplies
Now what about all the extra supplies that I need to keep on hand but don’t want out on display? I am thankful for this wardrobe to keep everything in. I have found that organizing things in bins by supply helps to keep things organized. I can just pull out the bin for pencils to grab a new box of pencils when we run low. It may not look that pretty, but it works for me! And the doors are always kept closed anyways!
On the doors I organize all of my Tell Me Fast cards which are ready to grab and bring to the rug for a quick subitizing routine. I just move the card around the rug and then hide it and ask students to put a quiet thumb on their knee once they know how many were on the card. I talk with my students about subitizing (yes I use the actual word!) and how we can work on seeing how many is there without counting each individual item. Later in the year we work on seeing groups of numbers and adding them together as a strategy for subitizing larger numbers.
I am very purposeful about organizing the classroom – where I put all of my supplies and the labels that I use in my room. I try not to have anything on the walls or around my room unless they really serve a purpose for my students. Is there anything that you want to hear or see more about? Let me know in the comments!