1. Contain it! Old favorites like flat vegetable cardboard boxes and plastic and wire baskets can take on new uses after group brainstorming sessions. Clear plastic video storage boxes stack well, take up very little room, and are another way to store materials like math manipulatives or put to use as children's personal boxes. Together, check out www.creativesurplus.com to find other inexpensive and interesting containers.
2. Combat crayon overload. Ask children to help you make table caddies for crayons. Use one clean juice can per color. Make color-coded labels, secure the cans together, and sort away!
3. Never underestimate the glory of study plastic storage bags! Label bags, then thumbtack directly to bulletin boards at children's working level for their materials and close to your desk or area for materials you want to keep track of.
4. Keep those markets flowing! Mix plaster of Paris and pour it into plastic whipped-topping containers. Before the plaster sets, place the tops of the pens into the plaster - open end facing up. When plaster has hardened, pop it out to use as a pen holder. Stored upside down, pens have their own place and are always ready for use!
5. Express mail. Ask children to help you decorate a rural mailbox, label with your name, and put the flag up. Now there's a special place for children to put drawings, notes, and any other materials they want you to have. If you haven't already, get children involved in making their own mailboxes. Use cardboard milk cartons labeled by name, taped together and covered with self-stick paper. Or ask your group - they may have other nifty ideas!
6. Look up! Running out of places to display children's work? String a wire across the room above your head to use to hang posters and children's art. Just make sure you rotate pictures so everyone gets a chance to view items at close range.
7. Wait until you're ready. Explain to parents that you'll be needing materials throughout the year, but due to space, you'll let them know when.