Clutter in the classroom means valuable instructional time lost scrambling to find small items like math manipulatives, glue sticks, and extra No. 2 pencils.

Here's a tip: You can prevent clutter from taking over your classroom without spending a fortune. The answer? Recycling everyday items to create clearly marked storage containers for everything.

Ask your friends and family to help you collect the following:

  • Coffee and baby formula cans (cover with contact paper)
  • Shoe and cigar boxes (cover with contact paper)
  • Tea tins
  • Old canister sets
  • Tall plastic cups
  • Plastic cereal bowls
  • See-through cosmetic bags
  • Plastic-zippered bags
  • Plastic milk crates
  • Egg cartons
  • Durable restaurant and deli takeout containers with lids
  • Plastic ice cream and sherbet containers
  • Wicker baskets of any size
  • Shoe caddy with see-through pockets
  • Small pails/buckets (often available as part of kids' meal promotions)

Organize art supplies, games, and other often-used items into kid-friendly containers and label them. Store project- or unit-specific items in containers that you can keep out of sight until you need them.

Need advice on clearing out the clutter another teacher left behind? Check out How to Make an Old Classroom New Again.