Monday, November 9, 2015

Stay Organized with Bins, Baskets and Trays - Part 1

Happy Monday, everyone! It's Lisa from over at Second Grade Stories. I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with bins. And trays. And baskets.  The Dollar Tree... Big Lots... Target... all very dangerous places for me. I have WAY more containers than I will ever need - and I always seem to buy more.  But that's good, because I use my containers to stay organized in so many ways!

I thought I would give you a tour of my classroom - container style! This is a  picture-heavy post (who knew how many different baskets and bins I used!), but it's filled with ways to stay organized in your classroom.  I discovered I had so many different ways of using containers, I had to break this post up into 2 parts!

My number 1 rule is: Everything needs to have a home!  I find that things start to pile up when I don't have a -- place to put them. Give everything a home and you'll be organized and tidy in no time! Rule number 2: Keep things that you use all the time out and accessible. There is nothing more frustrating that having to look for what you need two or three times a week. If you use it, give it a home out in the open! On with the tour!

This basket is right on a small shelf by my door. If it's finished, it gets put in the finished work basket. I've tried other systems - file folders with student numbers, trays for each subject... they never worked for me. Everything goes in here and my kiddos who have later buses love taking out the papers at the end of the day and organizing them so all the same ones are in one pile, they're all facing the same way, etc. Then I decide if it's going in my folder to be graded and entered into my gradebook, or in a different pile to be checked off and sent home.

These are our mailboxes for things that go home. I LOVE these mailboxes. A friend made them for me a few years ago. They are wooden and very sturdy and are going to last forever. WELL worth the cost of the materials! I put the name tags on the sides with Velcro so I can change them easily every year without scraping off the old nametag. Finished work that we have done together, notices, Friday folders, it all goes here to go home.
TIP: If you have Friday folders or something where all papers go home on a certain day, try this - sort everything into mailboxes FIRST, THEN pull out each pile and put it into the student's folder. This works so much better for me than spreading everything on the floor and trying to sort that way.

Which brings me to this tray. I have two of them on top of my mailboxes. One is for papers to go home later in the week (like I said, we do Friday folders) and the other is for notices. (I put those in a separate pile so they go on top of all the work.) Oftentimes I'll have student put papers directly in this tray if we've done it together and I don't need to look at it again. It stops the monster paper file from growing and streamlines my grading. I make notes on sticky notes about students who might have needed help so I have that information.

We have four ipads in our room. I grabbed these trays from the staff lounge over the summer and spray painted them blue. They work perfectly and are easy for my kiddos to slide the ipads in and out. Can't say as much for the mess of cords behind the trays. I'm still working on that one. (The cases are from Amazon - here's the link.)

I keep some of my classroom library books in these bins from The Dollar Tree. These are the books my kiddos choose from for reading workshop. I have other displays in different places in the room for themes, holidays etc. I switch out books every month or so. I've found keeping books in bins like this allows students to browse more easily. The labels keep everything organized. (The label holders are from Really Good Stuff. They are expensive, but well worth it. I make my own paper labels and just slide them in. You can see them here.)

We use clipboards all the time, so it's important for me to have an easy way to store them. (We have alternative seating, so my kiddos often choose to work on the floor - you can read more about that {HERE}) I went the easy route - two labeled bins that sit on the counter. I had to make rules last year for getting clipboards - you take the first clipboard that's on the top - no "fishing" for the one you want. You can switch with someone later. This year it's not really an issue. The water bottle basket came out of necessity. I hate sweaty bottles that leak (or spill) on the tables and papers. Grab and go. (We did have to have a conversation that this was not the water cooler and you can't stand there sipping and chatting all day :-)

Looking at this picture, I'm not sure how proud I am of it. But it's real - and it really is organized. I am blessed to have a double closet in my room (tow of them actually) to store things. This one stores school supplies, construction paper, art materials, etc. Those shelves are really deep and I was always losing things behind everything. I decide one summer to purchase Sterilite 3-drawer bins from WalMart and stick them in the closet.  Ta-dah! It may not LOOK beautiful, but I know where every kind of pencil, marker, sticky note, etc. is ... and I don't have to take out half the closet to find it. Use bins and drawers to store all those little things and you'll find you have so much more room for other stuff! Now if only I could do the same for my other closet with the Ziploc bags, paper plates, etc. Ugh.

This "toolkit" sits on our back counter. It has the things we always need to replace - and my kiddos know if they need something they can just come and get it. It's from the hardware section at Home Depot and the drawers tip forward when they open. A simple idea that has really helped. (And you can see the plastic bag with the glue sticks with no caps. We seem to lose the caps. Keeping them in the plastic bag keeps them from drying out and when a lone cap shows up we can just find it's mate!)

We use dice almost every day during our math time. I have - or can come up with - a dice game for just about any math concept. And we use them for reading, vocab and spelling games, too. These drawers contain the most-used dice: foam 6-sided dice (so quiet! link here), plastic 10-sided dice (also from Amazon - link here) and regular 6-sided dice. Since we use them so much, they needed their own place. TIP: If you use something a lot, keep it out somewhere in the classroom. It makes it much easier than digging through a closet or drawer three times a week! The dice mats on the top are just pieces of felt. My kiddos bring one to wherever they are working and roll the dice on it. It not only keeps things quieter when 20+ kids are rolling dice, but it helps them keep the dice somewhat ON the dice mat.

That's it for Part 1! We've only made it halfway around my room and I've already showed you nine different ways to stay organized using bins and baskets! Now head on over to my my blog for Part 2 and see even more ways I keep things organized! In the meantime, leave a comment and share your thoughts - how do you use bins and baskets to stay organized?


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