Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
Organize your classroom on a budget. From labeling to sorting supplies, this list of must-have, inexpensive classroom organization hacks will help get your school year off to a great start and keep it tidy all year:
Colorful Plastic Caddies
Plastic caddies have multiple uses in the classroom. Place materials in them for easy science experiment or art station set up. If your students sit in groups, use the caddies to store necessary, daily utensils and supplies. Use them for art supply storage, math manipulative storage, or to simply organize your desk. I purchased my caddies from Target in the dollar bins ($3 each). I have also seen them at various dollar stores.
Milk crates are a perfect fit for folders and files. I use one of my crates to store Student Data Folders when we are not recording in them. When I need to lug around supplies, I tend to use a milk crate. When topped with a homemade cushion, milk crates make great seats and benches (see Pinterest for millk crate seat ideas and tutorials). Stack them for use a classroom library (ziptie each crate together for stability and don’t overfill). I found some durable milk crates on sale at Target when all of the college dorm items go on sale.
Binders are great way to organize just about anything paper-related. Use them to file away your master copies, one binder for each subject or hour you teach. A substitute binder makes preparing for your absences a cinch. Archive student work in student portfolio binders. Store absent work and extra copies in a classroom binder for students to access as needed. Binders also make tracking student data simple. Label your binders with these free, editable, printable binder covers and spines from Curriculum Corner.
Labels, Labels, and More Labels!
This will help you and your students locate supplies and materials around the classroom in a jiffy! In my experience, if it is labeled, I’m more likely to use it; I simply forget it’s there! I found several free, editable, printable labels on TeachersPayTeachers.
While plastic drawers aren’t inexpensive, you’ll see them as a savvy investment down the road. I purchased 4, 3-drawer units and will never go back to my previous method of organization. Label the drawers with each day of the week and place your lessons, materials, and other items for the day inside. Set aside drawers to label as “To Copy” and “To Grade” to help organize your piles of papers. I also use one drawer as the “Emergency” lesson plan drawer in case of an unexpected absence. Plastic drawers are helpful in storing and organizing manipulatives, art supplies, extra work, absent work, and copies for future lessons/units. Don’t forget to label your drawers!
Shoebox-sized Clear Bins
This one is a no-brainer. I never seem to have enough of these around. Small, plastic bins are one of the most versatile organization items in the classroom. Use them to store extra supplies, manipulatives, craft items, and games. Use labels to help identify what’s inside. They are easy to stack and easy for even the youngest of students to access. Dollar stores usually have these, but they aren’t great quality. I go for Sterilite and Rubbermaid brands when I can get them on sale. I also ask for these from parents in my Teacher Wish List at the beginning of the school year.
What are your favorite tricks to organize your classroom on a budget?
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