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December 4, 2015

Classroom Storage Tips: Make the Most of Tight Spaces

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    My classroom looks inviting and cozy to all who enter. Everything has its place. I have been on a mission this year to stay organized in my classroom. To be honest, this is an ongoing process for me because normally I would just put things in piles, put the piles into storage containers, and hope to get to them later. Out of sight, out of mind! I would promise myself that I would find an afternoon when I could go through these items and decide what to keep and what to throw away. But ever since I organized the teacher’s closet in my classroom, I have been making sure that materials return to their proper place.

    Along my journey to stay organized, my focus has been directed to the issues of space and storage. I have long since given up the big, bulky, traditional teacher’s desk. With the additional space, I was able to make room for my reading nooks. My work area (which I normally use to grade papers and finish up classwork) also serves as a conference table for small group instruction. I deliberately sit near the window so that I can use the ledge as a shelf. So without even realizing it, I was finding solutions to my storage issues. Here’s a few that I would like to share with you that are working well in my room.

    Making the Most of Tight Spaces

    Window Shelf

    Milk Crate Storage

    Milk crates definitely have a home in my classroom. They are present in the classroom library and are used as bookcases. But now, I have found a new use for them. Rather than just throwing materials on top of my cabinets, I can place them in neat milk crates. I could go above and beyond by decorating the crates with fabric as well as labeling them. But for right now I am keeping it simple.

     

     

    Student Supply Bins

    I know that this is not a new concept; bins have been around for a long time. But I found a new use when I was looking for a solution to a problem. I had an overabundance of school supplies in September and needed a place to put them. I was able to procure desktop storage bins for desk groupings. Each bin has highlighters, glue sticks, sticky notes, crayons, magic markers, scissors, and colored pencils.  Added benefit: students know that materials are at their fingertips, which saves valuable instruction time.

     

     

    Hanging Storage

    This idea was born from necessity. I have various sized colored templates that I use to label areas in the classroom. At first, I placed them by size in a resealable bag and put them away in a drawer. Whenever I needed to use the labels, I would scavenge through all of the items until I found the one I needed. I decided there had to be an easier way. I had one extra-large baggie that was too large to fit inside the cabinet drawers. It occurred to me if laying the templates flat was a problem, why not hang them using the resealable bag? I took a pair of pant hangers, clipped the bag onto the hanger, and placed in it the closet. It is easy to access and it does not take up a lot of room.



    Wall Folders

    I am borrowing this idea from one of my colleagues, Michelle Burlew, so I can't take credit for this one. She uses the outside of her closet door as a file folder holder. Expanding folders are attached to the closet door and are used to store work for her students. Cool, right? I wonder if the same idea could be used for the inside of the closet or cabinet door. I am placing this project on my list to try out.

     

    Pearls of Wisdom — Remember to take a moment for yourself during the day and breathe. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. Think about creating a daily Zen moment in your class for you and your students to help create a sense of calm especially during the hectic holiday season.

    Do you have any storage tips that work in your classroom? If so, please share! I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

    My classroom looks inviting and cozy to all who enter. Everything has its place. I have been on a mission this year to stay organized in my classroom. To be honest, this is an ongoing process for me because normally I would just put things in piles, put the piles into storage containers, and hope to get to them later. Out of sight, out of mind! I would promise myself that I would find an afternoon when I could go through these items and decide what to keep and what to throw away. But ever since I organized the teacher’s closet in my classroom, I have been making sure that materials return to their proper place.

    Along my journey to stay organized, my focus has been directed to the issues of space and storage. I have long since given up the big, bulky, traditional teacher’s desk. With the additional space, I was able to make room for my reading nooks. My work area (which I normally use to grade papers and finish up classwork) also serves as a conference table for small group instruction. I deliberately sit near the window so that I can use the ledge as a shelf. So without even realizing it, I was finding solutions to my storage issues. Here’s a few that I would like to share with you that are working well in my room.

    Making the Most of Tight Spaces

    Window Shelf

    Milk Crate Storage

    Milk crates definitely have a home in my classroom. They are present in the classroom library and are used as bookcases. But now, I have found a new use for them. Rather than just throwing materials on top of my cabinets, I can place them in neat milk crates. I could go above and beyond by decorating the crates with fabric as well as labeling them. But for right now I am keeping it simple.

     

     

    Student Supply Bins

    I know that this is not a new concept; bins have been around for a long time. But I found a new use when I was looking for a solution to a problem. I had an overabundance of school supplies in September and needed a place to put them. I was able to procure desktop storage bins for desk groupings. Each bin has highlighters, glue sticks, sticky notes, crayons, magic markers, scissors, and colored pencils.  Added benefit: students know that materials are at their fingertips, which saves valuable instruction time.

     

     

    Hanging Storage

    This idea was born from necessity. I have various sized colored templates that I use to label areas in the classroom. At first, I placed them by size in a resealable bag and put them away in a drawer. Whenever I needed to use the labels, I would scavenge through all of the items until I found the one I needed. I decided there had to be an easier way. I had one extra-large baggie that was too large to fit inside the cabinet drawers. It occurred to me if laying the templates flat was a problem, why not hang them using the resealable bag? I took a pair of pant hangers, clipped the bag onto the hanger, and placed in it the closet. It is easy to access and it does not take up a lot of room.



    Wall Folders

    I am borrowing this idea from one of my colleagues, Michelle Burlew, so I can't take credit for this one. She uses the outside of her closet door as a file folder holder. Expanding folders are attached to the closet door and are used to store work for her students. Cool, right? I wonder if the same idea could be used for the inside of the closet or cabinet door. I am placing this project on my list to try out.

     

    Pearls of Wisdom — Remember to take a moment for yourself during the day and breathe. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. Think about creating a daily Zen moment in your class for you and your students to help create a sense of calm especially during the hectic holiday season.

    Do you have any storage tips that work in your classroom? If so, please share! I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

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