My first mentor teacher was creative, smart, caring… and a mess. I couldn’t find markers if I needed to, never mind kids’ work or the photocopies for a lesson.
Some might accuse me of going too far in the opposite direction, but to them I say, look at my closet! It is a thing of beauty. I like to think of my classroom as an oasis of organization. It’s calming to me — and I think probably to kids, too — and it teaches kids how to be responsible for materials as part of a community.
There are so many systems to talk about, but let’s start with putting everything in its place.
I have three main spaces for school supplies: bins on shelves (for kid access), boxes in the closet (larger items), and the shoe rack organizer (small items).
I love labels. And I love it when everyone knows where to find things and where to put them back. So, my labels all have the name of the item plus an image (much love to Google image search). For younger kids and those learning English, I think this combination can also be a powerful learning tool.
Printing: I use white cardstock and a color printer. Then I back each label with a different color of cardstock. Yeah, I color-code them, too (pink for writing supplies, blue for math, green for art), but that may just be my craziness stepping out. (It may also help visual learners get a quick sense of the different sections of the classroom.)
Laminating: so they last a really long time.
Affixing: Velcro. Buy the 15-foot long strip and you’re good to go. I use about 3/4 inch on the back of each label. Make sure you put the Velcro on the same way every time (fuzzy side on label, say) and all of your labels are interchangeable. You can also replace your labels on a whim, and they don’t come off accidentally.
PDFs of Materials:
Shoe Rack School Supply Labels (2.5×3 in.)
Bin Supply Labels (7×2 in.)
Box and Drawer Supply Labels (5×3 in.)
— a. fox