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Clever Classroom Storage Solutions: Part 1

By Lindsey Petlak on August 21, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

As teachers, we are always in need of more storage. From dollar stores, garage sales, and resale shops, to repurposing your existing items, finding new ways to store the plethora of materials necessary to run our classrooms is a never-ending teacher adventure. Check out these easy, inexpensive, and unexpected tips, tricks, and fun finds for clever classroom storage solutions!

 

 

1. Student Mailboxes

For years I struggled with the bulky mailboxes that most classrooms have. Mailboxes are necessary in classrooms, but the old bulky modules were terribly difficult to manage in small, confined classroom spaces. Last year, I stumbled upon a genius solution to this storage nightmare! Wall-hanging magazine holders work PERFECTLY as classroom mailboxes! I’ve found these in various locations (at a low cost) in cardboard, plastic, and lightweight metal (pictured here). They lasted all of last year with no wear and tear and worked perfectly!

 

2. Plastic Drawers

I absolutely adore using plastic storage drawers for a variety of different classroom purposes. Both large and small, and with and without wheels for mobility, these storage drawers are versatile, durable, and can be found at discount stores for budget prices.

Uses for SMALL drawers:

  • Paper turn-in drawers labeled by subject

  • Teacher organization drawers for copies, labeled by subject and/or days of the week

  • Teacher to-do drawers (copy, file, hand-out, etc.)

  • Individual student organization system: Students in need of assistance with executive functioning benefit enormously from using these drawers. Label each drawer with a subject area, and students place all papers, folders, and books related to that specific subject within that single drawer.

Uses for LARGE drawers:

  • We use the large drawers as a part of our executive functioning setup. Students house supplies in shared drawers. For example, top drawers are used for pencil boxes; the bottom two drawers are used for journals, notebooks, library books, etc.

  • I like to use the drawers for bulky items that students need access to, but are often an eyesore. For example, I put clipboards in one drawer, and individual white boards and markers/erasers in the remaining two.

  • This year, I’m using one set of three large drawers at each work station area. I will place center materials, recording pages, and necessary supplies in each drawer. Drawers will be labeled and organized for easy student access and use, and everything will be put away without making a mess in the classroom!

 

3. Hardware Storage Drawer System

Small math manipulatives are amazing classroom tools, but terribly difficult to organize and keep track of. Even when students try their hardest, it seems like game pieces, dice, and small manipulatives get lost and scattered. Last year our district purchased a treasure chest load of dice, dominoes, and other small math manipulatives for each classroom. We decided to creatively use awesome hardware drawer organizing systems to store the items and they were a HUGE success. For more ideas for keeping math manipulatives under control, check out fellow blogger Meghan Everette's post on controlling the chaos.

Beyond math manipulatives, I’ve seen these same hardware storage systems used to store teacher supplies such as paper clips, scissors, staples, pushpins, and more. Clear bins allow you to see the supplies inside, or you can get creative and make labels/covers for the front of each bin! I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on my to-do list for sure!

 

4. Plastic Food and Lunch Containers

Sure, these plastic reusable containers are great for lunches, snacks, and storing leftovers, but they are even more amazing for classroom storage solutions. Last year I found these snack packs while strolling through my local dollar store. They have been one of the best storage solutions ever! I use them in so many ways including the following:

  • Contain dice use by putting one or more die in each tiny container. Students shake the container and set it on the table to see where dice land. The dice stay contained and don’t get lost, but still function perfectly in the little boxes. Even better? No sticky hands on the dice, means no need to disinfect!

  • Centers contain many pieces, no matter what subject they are for. Last year I used multi-compartment snack containers to house manipulatives, as well as quick instructions for math games. Students just grab the snack pack container and go. These kits make cleanup a snap, too!

  • I can’t wait to find more uses for these handy-dandy containers this year!

 

5. Laundry Bags

Last week (at 2:00 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep because of back-to-school teacher brain), I had what I HOPE is a brilliant idea. We have an open coat hook area where all student belongings are exposed. This area is the bane of my existence. Despite every student and teacher effort, this area is just constantly messy. Coats fall off hooks, student accessories fall out of backpacks, and I don’t love student personal items hanging so closely together for reasons of sanitation (that’s a nice way of saying I’m a bit phobic about head lice!). This year, I’m buying a class set of LAUNDRY BAGS from my local dollar store and I think they are going to be a LIFESAVER!

I tested out the size and gusset of the bags in-store. A backpack, coat, and miscellaneous student items from home can all fit inside of these nifty, cheap bags. I plan to have students hang the sacks by their backpack top handles to minimize stress and wear/tear on the bags. Fingers crossed that his brings more organization and sanitation to this part of my classroom!



Check Back Next Week for Part 2 of my Clever Classroom Storage Solutions!

We’ll take a peek at thrift store finds, repurposing goodies you already own, and looking at storage containers with new perspective to find the best uses for them. Please share any clever solutions you’ve found for your classroom! Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Comments (8)

Hi, I love your ideas. Could you give some of your resources for the hanging magazine rack? Thank you! Laura

Hi, I love your ideas. Could you give some of your resources for the hanging magazine rack? Thank you! Laura

Thanks for reading and commenting, Laura! My specific magazine rack came from IKEA. However, I have seen similar ones at many places such as Target, Wal-mart, etc. Especially at back-to-school and college times, they can be found, and right about now go on deep discount. Good luck--I hope you find some!

I was just talking about the storage problem yesterday. I love the laundry bag idea! It is non expensive and will solve the eyesore problem. Will you write the students name or number on the bag? where did you order them from?

Marge,

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Guess what??? I just picked up my box of 24 laundry bags today and can't wait to get them ready in the classroom next week after Labor Day!!! I am still determining how I'll mark which bag belongs to which student. I think I'll attach something similar to a luggage tag with student name and/or number on it. These particular bags I found at the Dollar Tree and ordered in bulk (24) from their online ordering service. I hope they work....fingers crossed!

-Lindsey

I was just talking about the storage problem yesterday. I love the laundry bag idea! It is non expensive and will solve the eyesore problem. Will you write the students name or number on the bag? where did you order them from?

These are fabulous ideas, Lindsey! I love the laundry bag idea :)

Thanks for reading and commenting, Rachel H!
I'm SUPER excited about the laundry bags and just received an email letting me know they have shipped! Next week I hope they arrive so that I may try them out.
Fingers crossed.....
-Lindsey ;-)

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