With school starting, I've been swamped. I promise I'll be posting more often with organizing tips. However, I wanted to share the new Thirty-One Gifts catalog with you. There are some fabulous new patterns this fall and a new Super Organizing Utility Tote. This one zips closed. Many of you have emailed me asking if the Organizing Utility Tote had a cover like the Large Utility Tote does. Finally, I can answer yes!!!. Here are a few of the new items. Also this month if you spend $31 you can order another item and receive 31% off the second item. If you are interested in ordering, you can shop my website.
I'm back in the classroom. I haven't been able to post for a while due to not being allowed in my classroom. Now that we are in there working and preparing for our students I can once again share my quick organizing tips with all my readers. I have a parent volunteer system that I've been using for 20 years now. It is so simple. I use large manila envelopes that have been laminated. I place the prep work, directions and a sample, if necessary inside the envelope. The envelopes are placed in a box outside my classroom door. Parents can sign-out an envelope and return it by the due date. Usually I have prep work that involves cutting, tracing or stapling. Below is what my envelopes look like. I've also included some free decorate labels to attach to the front of your container. Just click the polka dot label to get your freebie.
Storing puzzles in the classroom has always been such a challenge. I can't stand the wire puzzle racks as all puzzles aren't created equal. Some are just too big or too small to fit the rack. This leaves the puzzles falling and scattering pieces all about. I don't like to store things away form the kids- out of sight means out of mind. After searching for better puzzle storage I came across a few different options. I decided to go with the containers. Shocking I know given my recent confession in regards to my plastic container obsession. After several trips to the Dollar Store I found enough different sized containers to fit my puzzle pieces.
Large Floor Puzzles
The large blue containers are a much needed improvement over the cardboard boxes as you can see from my photos below. I salvaged the picture from the box and taped it to the inside of the lid, so students will have it to refer to. I labeled the front of the box with a number and did the same for the back of each puzzle piece. This way when I do find a random puzzle piece I will know exactly which container to put it in.
I really debated over what to do with these. As I said earlier I was using the wire rack, but the rack didn't work, puzzles always fell. Originally I bought smaller plastic containers to put them in and my intention was to label the puzzle pieces with numbers and write the corresponding number on the puzzle board. I would really like to use this system. However,the containers do take up more space,and I just don't have the room. Instead I stacked all the tray puzzles in one large plastic container that is kept on the shelf next to the big floor puzzles. I will rotate these puzzles for the kids to use.
Someday I may get super creative and take a photo of each puzzle and put it in a photo album with the puzzle number, for the kids to flip through and select their puzzle. Until then, they will just have to use the method I'v put into place.
This is a fabulous post over at Raibows Within Reach. So many different organizing ideas all in one place. I just had to share. Grab a snack and hop over there. Be ready to take notes there are some great ideas.
Creating access to all the supplies students need to do their daily work, can be challenging. Over the years I've tried different approaches, table top caddies being used as communal property, a supply station, ziplock bags inside desks and individual pencil boxes. When I was teaching second and third grade, I used individual pencil boxes for students to keep their supplies in. I felt the students were old enough to be responsible for their own belongings. Each student was given a pencil box that contained pencils, erasers, markers, colored pencils, crayons, scissors and a glue stick. It was their responsibility to keep track of their supplies. If they were to lose something, they would be able to borrow what they needed from my left-over container. The left-over container was made up of old supplies from the previous year and supplies I'd find on the floor after-school.
Using the pencil box approach was great for older students, but kindergartners and first graders are messy and not all were capable of keeping track of their items. I'll admit that last year I did try the pencil boxes with my kindergartners and it was a huge disaster. Mid year I collected the boxes and brought out the shared table caddies. Having these little ones share supplies worked well. Best of all it taught them to SHARE and learn to WAIT THEIR TURN.
This year I'll use table caddies again. I found these last spring at Target and decided to save them for the new year. You can often find containers like these at the Dollar Tree or Target's Dollar Spot ($2.50), or pay more at places like Really Good Stuff and Oriental Trading. I've also found some similar to these in the auto department at Walmart.
To go with my new theme this year in my room, I've made table labels. I printed the labels onto card stock, used my personal laminator from Costco- only $20, and then I used my Xyron sticker maker to apply adhesive to the back. To keep the caddies clean, I am using frosting containers to hold everything. I know what you are thinking, that is a lot of frosting- Yes it was, but my kids make cupcakes all the time- we've been saving the containers all year.
Many of you know I am a Thirty-One Gifts consultant. I love their bags and have far too many according to my family. I wanted to share with all my readers, this month's special. If you've always wanted that Large Utility Tote, now's your chance to get it for only $10 when you spend $35. So if you loved my Teacher Work Bag, now you can get it for $30, have it monogrammed, then get the Large Utility Tote for $10. That's two great bags perfect for the upcoming school year.
Construction paper is something we all have in our classrooms. However, the majoirty of us probably store it the same way, in stacks. Depending on how tall your stack is, it can be really hard to get to the papers on the bottom. Last year I used a file crate with hanging folders to hold my paper, but the crate had to sit out on the counter taking up a lot of space. A few days ago while rummaging through our local Beverly's Craft Outlet store, I came upon these. I have about 10 of these at home in my craft room all holding scrapbook paper. When I saw these I immediately thought construction paper. Not sure why I've never thought of it before. They hold about 200 sheets of paper, don't take up much space, and they will fit in my cupboard. I payed about $2 for each of mine because our store is closing, but you can get them at most craft stores and on Amazon for around $7 or $8 and probably cheaper with a coupon. They are the Cropper Hopper 12x12 Paper Holders. For the 12x18 construction paper, I still have to stack it in my cupboard. my husband is cutting me extra shelves to add to the cupboard so I can have only two colors per shelf. Pictures for those will be soon.
For over a year I've been using binder clips with push pins to hang things on my walls. One day while browsing the hook aisle at home Depot I saw thumb tacks and thought Hmmm maybe I could glue these to clips- thus "Clipins" was made. Below are a two samples of what I've made. The black flower thing is a wood flower bought in a pack of 10 from the Dollar Tree. I painted them with chalkboard paint that I bought at JoAnn's. Forgive the smeared writing. I only have large sidewalk chalk at home. The red polka dot pin is covered with ribbon. You could also use scrapbook paper. Now hanging items on my bulletin boards will be easy and I won't be poking holes in artwork or other important papers/
I found these cute little tins at my Target's Dollar Spot. I think they will look much nicer then ny grungy frosting containers I was using last year. I have a bunch of Avery Mailing lables 5164 3 1/3" X 4" I printed the images on the labels, but you could print on card stock and laminate before adhering. I should had laminated now that I think of it to help keep them clean. Maybe I'll try clear contact paper. The important part is you have cute pencil cup labels. Click pictures below to get yours FREE!
A while ago I shared with you my teacher plan book. As I plan for my return in August, I have started making my plan book for next year. I will be using one of the following covers. You can get these at my Teachers Notebook Store. There are twelve different covers, one for each month if you can't decide.
I've already started organizing and redecorating my room for the next school year. While sitting at my desk the other night I looked over at my sterilite containers that hold my paper supplies and thought I should decorate these and take them to school. I grabbed some scrapbook paper, a paper cutter, clear adhesive and my laminator. Cut the strips to fit inside the drawers and secured them with roll-on scrapbook adhesive. The tops of these containers were yucky. One had a heart stenciled too it from when it belonged to my daughter. I laminated the pieces for the tops, secured them and I was done. The whole project took about 20 minutes. It took longer for me to decide which paper to use. These container hold the different papers we use throughout the year.
I've heard from several readers that Target is out-of-stock on the red clip boxes that I use for my Math Work Stations. I've done a little research and here are a few options. When ordering make sure to check the dimensions of the boxes. You want to make sure it can hold a standard piece of paper and be at least 3-inches tall.
This can be a daunting task if you don't have a system already in place or you decide you need a system. It can be a bit of an investment too. First decide on how you want to sort your books. Do you want them by author, themes or reading levels. I personally have a little of each in my classroom library. Next decide on what you will keep your books in for easy movement from a shelf to the floor or tables. I use these. I've had mine for about 14 years. They are made by Rubbermaid.
I purchased them over 10 years ago at Walmart for about $2 each and they are still going strong. Every time I see one on our freebie table at work, I grab it. Check your Dollar Store for dishpans, they work great too. Although I like the look of the clear boxes, they do tend to break if dropped.
Book Box Labels
Once you decide on how to organize your books, you will want to make some sort of label to place on the front of each box. You can get my labels here. Before you start making and printing your labels, play with the size of label you will be using and how you will be attaching it. Velcro or packing tape work the best, unless you are using Avery labels, even then, you may want to secure them with clear packing tape or clear contact paper, just to be safe. Laminate your labels for durability. They will take some abuse, especially if the boxes are being moved frequently from the shelves.
Label Your Books Inside and Out
Label your books. Invest in a stamp mine reads- This book belongs to Mrs. Mugurussa or use address labels or make your own labels on the computer. Place inside the front cover of each book.
For the outside of your books decide how students will know where to return the book to when they are finished. I use a number system. Each box is assigned a number and every book in that box has a sticker on the upper right corner with the same number. You could also place the number inside the front cover of the book too, just incase the sticker falls off.
Some people use matching book labels and box labels. I too did this, however I found that the labels I made didn't adhere and students weren't paying close attention to the picture on the label. It could be that I was trying this method with kindergartners and the previous number method was with 2nd and 3rd graders. Check out my Labels pages for some matching labels for your tubs.
Another idea to help students know where to return books to, would be to use alphabet letters. This works if you have no more then 26 boxes.
This little scanner allows you to scan the isbn number of your books in order to create a customized library list. Genius and not too expensive. I have hundreds of books in my class library. It is hard to remember all of the titles or the box they might/should be in.
For those of you with Smartphones, there are several apps that can do the same as the barcode scanner. It uses the camera on your phone to take a picture of the barcode then scans the web for the title. I've tried Book Catalogue for the Android. I can email the database to myself and make a print out out all of my books for quick reference. Within the database I can add notes such as the location of the books Being that my books are organized in numbered buckets, I can quickly locate the book, once I know what boon to look in.
With the right organizational supplies and some time, organizing the class library can be accomplished. Go slow, don't expect to be done in a few hours. Go through the books to see what types of books you have. As you browse, you will get an idea as to how you will want to group them. Once you decide how to croup them, start sorting in 5 easy steps
If space is a concern know how many containers you will need- buy a few extra- just in case you need more.
Make your labels for the front of the books (either numbers or letters)- I used round sticky dots and a sharpie
Sort your books.
Add the labels
Make your book box labels and attach
Once it is complete- send my a picture- I'd love to share what you've done with everyone.
I'll admit it, I LOVE containers. I can't go into a store without stopping in the organizational container area. I have many crates, bins and boxes. Each type of container is designated for specific items. I also only buy containers in specific colors. I find that color coding when possible is extremely helpful. My newest, most favorite bins are these.
Click box image to find at Target
They are Sterilite latch clip containers. made especially for Target. The best part is that on-line they were 6/$19.99. In the store, they $4.99 each. I first found these containers last August, in the store with black clips. I use the black ones for my Math Work Stations. Next year, I will use the red clip boxes for my Literacy Work Stations. They are durable and super easy for the kids to open. They stack nicely on my shelf and are able to hold everything I need for my stations. They even make a smaller vernon of these containers 6/$14.99. I just wish I could rationalize why I need them. Being cute and matching isn't a reason. I made labels for the fronts so the kids can quickly find the container they need. Labels will be in my next post.