Stay Organized with Bins, Baskets and Trays - Part 2

Happy Tuesday, teacher friends! Do you have a container addiction like I do? I just can't help it. Colorful bins, baskets and trays make me happy - and keep me organized! I blogged over at Who's Who and shared part 1 of this post - see it here.

Now let's get ready for part 2 - MORE ways to stay organized with containers in the classroom!

I have always stored my math materials in plastic bins. But lately I've been a little obsessed with having matching containers and labels. Walmart had these plastic shoeboxes with colored lids a couple summers ago, so I ditched all my old containers and used these. Having them all the same size really helped me fit more containers on the shelf. And the labels make it super easy for me - or my students  to find when we need. I also condensed what I had (who needs 50,000 pattern blocks) by sharing with other teachers or putting less-used items in our grade level hallway closet. This freed up space for me to keep out only what I used most often. I have a similar shelf on the opposite side of this space with language arts materials. (link to the labels here)

TIP: Keep out only the things you really use. If you use something only one or two times a year, store it out of sight in a closet or somewhere so you can declutter and make room for what you truly use!

Speaking of math materials - I started storing all my centers and small group activities in these bins. LOVE! I bought a few more this year and separated some topics out (Ex. Place value used to be just one tub, but I had so many thing its was hard to put the lid on! Now there is one tub for 2-digit place value and one for 3-digit.) I can't remember exactly where these tubs came from - has to be either WalMart or Big Lots (maybe both, because there are two different kinds.) Before all the little cards and game pieces and such were falling out of file folders, or getting stuffed in binders. Now I can easily see what I need and I'm putting things BACK, too!

TIP: If you have a place for everything, it makes it easier to put it BACK when you are done, rather than leaving it in a pile to put away later.

I've shared this picture before. It makes me smile to see all those colorful bins lined up so neatly. These are our workboxes - the place we keep things we need during the day. (My kiddos do not have desks, so we need a space for folders and journals and stuff. You can read more about my alternative seating by clicking HERE.) This is truly a must for a classroom without desks. I tried having containers around the room for each type of folder/notebook, but I just don't have the counter space in my room to do that. I inherited the storage case, but I purchased the bins a few years ago (link here) when the old ones I had were too cracked and falling apart to be used any more. Having a place for things we use everyday helps with organization and still gives students a place of their own to store things.

I have so many of these containers from The Dollar Tree that they're my "go to" bins. Here they store our dry erase supplies. (The erasers are face sponges that come 3/pk from Dollar Tree.) I also use these bins to display books that go with a theme or author we're studying at the moment. They're sturdy enough so they don't topple over.

My writing paper is stored on these trays. The top 2 shelves hold everyday paper, the third shelf has final copy paper and the bottom shelf is scrap paper. Definitely keep a pile of scrap paper around and USE IT! Doing one of those flip flap activities? Have them glue it to a piece of scrap paper. Drawing a quick idea? Sharing a thought? Scrap paper works perfectly! I always encourage my kiddos to use scrap paper when they can so we're helping the environment. Having a stash of it easily available has made me use it more.

These black and white baskets are my saving grace for planning! The top shelf holds things we will use during the current day. Books, copies, games, whatever it is, it goes in the basket. The baskets are right next to my chair by the carpet so I can reach for anything I need for the lesson. Put sticky notes, markers, cubes.... kids need it for the day and I put it in the basket.  The second shelf is for things for the following days or week(s). Things I have copied ahead, extra math fact sheets, books I find that I want to remember to use.. those all go in the second basket. The third basket usually holds books for later - small group copies I'm not using yet, read alouds, etc. I also have my accordion-file with my "I Can" statements" in there. The bottom basket holds general "stuff." This has been my way of organizing what I need to teach for the longest time and it works for me!

I do still have a desk. But it's more like a storage area because I never sit there! It's one of those old-fashioned wooden desks with the pull-out tray for correcting papers. I refinished it and I love it. I have one of those toolboxes that so many people have that holds staples and pens and all those little things. I also have a 6-drawer Sterilite container that holds sticky notes, stickers, sharpies, note cards and those other things seem to need all the time. The black file folder holder in the back of this picture is where I'll keep folders for current things we're working on, book order info, etc. The black bin in the front holds my meeting notebook (which I divided into sections with small sticky notes), as well as things I'm using at the moment. Now it has DRA assessments and a couple books I want to remember to read to my kiddos. I really try to be good about cleaning this out every Friday afternoon before I leave, or it quickly becomes a place to just stick things!

TIP:  Take a few minutes at the end of each day to do a "sweep" around the room and straighten and put things back. Taking 10 minutes each day can really make a difference!

And finally, these little babies have saved my sanity! I can't take credit for the idea, but another genius person came up with the simple solution to all those scraps of paper from activities that involve cutting and pasting. I call them "trash tubs" and when we're doing any activity that involves scissors, one of my kiddos will come and grab these and put them around the room where everyone is working so they can put their scraps inside.  Soooo easy-peasy! No more kids trying to bring little scraps to the trash and dropping them along the way. Clean up is so easy now!

There you have it! Between this post and my other post, I've given you almost 20 different ways to use baskets, bins and containers to stay organized! Which one was your favorite? And how else do you use containers in your classroom? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

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