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September 14, 2015 How One Tote Organized My School Year By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    There are a ton of reasons that teachers give for not wanting to do more art in their classrooms. A few that I hear regularly include:

    • I hate glitter

    • It makes my room messy

    • I’m not artistic

    • It takes a long time for the kids to finish

    • It’s too much work to get the supplies ready

    I will admit that I have whispered a couple of these (mainly the one about glitter) myself more than a few times. But while glitter gets everywhere and is difficult to clean, it does add sparkle to the classroom. And I realize that although art is not the primary reason why kids come to kindergarten, it does make learning fun and needs to be a part of my everyday classroom!

    The Art Problem

    One of the guided reading stations that my students visit each week is the art station. This station has helped me weave art into my lesson plans and into the fabric of the school day. My problem was how to store all my art activities. Some projects are too large for a filing cabinet. Some have too many little parts to be stored in a cupboard. I found my solution with one blue tote and one pack of blue file folders.

    What's in a blue file folder?My Blue File Folders

    Each art project gets its own blue file folder where all the pattern pieces, sentence strip directions, and examples live until I need them. That blue file folder gets labeled and placed in chronological order in my big blue art tote. It’s simple yet effective — easy but organized.

    At the beginning of the year, I use a lot more visual cues for how to complete the project. I also use a lot more patterns so that there is less need for sharing. Sharing is a concept we work up to.  As the year progresses, and my kids become readers, I use fewer visual directions and patterns to scaffold my class while they learn the idea of working in a mutually supportive environment.


    One of my favorite uses for my file folders is to include notes about what went well and what didn’t work so well with a particular project. I can also write important notes on the outside of the folder, generally about some important learning that I made, to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes two years in a row.

     

     

     

     

    My Blue File FoldersMy Big Blue Art Tote

    The great thing about my big blue art tote is that it can carry me through from year to year. Since I'm reusing materials, it's already set up and organized. All I need to do is update the contents of the folder and add to it. Each week as I pull the appropriate folder, I look at the art projects that are in the file from the previous year, make tweaks, and add patterns from my latest Pinterest find.

    Is this idea rocket science? Nope, but sometimes what you need is just an inexpensive solution that makes your day-to-day life just a touch easier.

    Word Workshop Label

    Personalize It

    Want a to make a cute label for your art tote? Use Scholastic's Word Workshop and instantly create a personalized label to finish off your organizational paradise.

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    There are a ton of reasons that teachers give for not wanting to do more art in their classrooms. A few that I hear regularly include:

    • I hate glitter

    • It makes my room messy

    • I’m not artistic

    • It takes a long time for the kids to finish

    • It’s too much work to get the supplies ready

    I will admit that I have whispered a couple of these (mainly the one about glitter) myself more than a few times. But while glitter gets everywhere and is difficult to clean, it does add sparkle to the classroom. And I realize that although art is not the primary reason why kids come to kindergarten, it does make learning fun and needs to be a part of my everyday classroom!

    The Art Problem

    One of the guided reading stations that my students visit each week is the art station. This station has helped me weave art into my lesson plans and into the fabric of the school day. My problem was how to store all my art activities. Some projects are too large for a filing cabinet. Some have too many little parts to be stored in a cupboard. I found my solution with one blue tote and one pack of blue file folders.

    What's in a blue file folder?My Blue File Folders

    Each art project gets its own blue file folder where all the pattern pieces, sentence strip directions, and examples live until I need them. That blue file folder gets labeled and placed in chronological order in my big blue art tote. It’s simple yet effective — easy but organized.

    At the beginning of the year, I use a lot more visual cues for how to complete the project. I also use a lot more patterns so that there is less need for sharing. Sharing is a concept we work up to.  As the year progresses, and my kids become readers, I use fewer visual directions and patterns to scaffold my class while they learn the idea of working in a mutually supportive environment.


    One of my favorite uses for my file folders is to include notes about what went well and what didn’t work so well with a particular project. I can also write important notes on the outside of the folder, generally about some important learning that I made, to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes two years in a row.

     

     

     

     

    My Blue File FoldersMy Big Blue Art Tote

    The great thing about my big blue art tote is that it can carry me through from year to year. Since I'm reusing materials, it's already set up and organized. All I need to do is update the contents of the folder and add to it. Each week as I pull the appropriate folder, I look at the art projects that are in the file from the previous year, make tweaks, and add patterns from my latest Pinterest find.

    Is this idea rocket science? Nope, but sometimes what you need is just an inexpensive solution that makes your day-to-day life just a touch easier.

    Word Workshop Label

    Personalize It

    Want a to make a cute label for your art tote? Use Scholastic's Word Workshop and instantly create a personalized label to finish off your organizational paradise.

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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