Organization Ideas for the Kindergarten Classroom

 Hi friends!


Over the years I've been asked to share how I organize my classroom countless times so I've decided to do a big blog post about it! I hope this is helpful!


1. Cubby Organization/Guided Materials


I like to label the bins instead of the hooks so that I can move kids around more easily if the need arises! I also like using these chalk clips because it is easy to add a new student (just write on the clip and clip on a new bin!)

These are the ones I have: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07BZR143C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and I've also bought them at Dollarama in the past!


I don't have a picture, but we've also taped on name cards with their picture or family picture on their cubbie bins in the past too! This is especially helpful if you have a lot of JKs or a lot of students who can not recognize their name yet.

The kids kept their extra clothes in their baskets! I got these baskets at Dollarama many years ago but I don't think they carry them anymore. Here is a similar bin from Dollar Tree! https://www.dollartree.com/bright-plastic-locker-bins-with-handles/952503


The clear bins at the end of this row were outside toys and the rest were empty at the beginning of the year. I ended up filling a couple of them with guided math duotangs.

Guided Literacy (Reading + Writing) I keep in a large open bin (I think this would be a similar size: https://www.dollartree.com/plastic-locker-bins-with-handles/206196) and I keep this bin under my teacher table. I have a file folder that is reinforced (closed) on the sides (like this) and keep the guide material for each group in each folder.

2. Organizing Read Alouds


I love using these Sterilite Ice Cube Bins (I have bought all of mine from Wal-Mart). They fit almost all of my books and it's easy to find the bin I want and pull what I need!

I store these on the shelf above the cubby area and pull the bin I need for that day's read aloud or to switch out books at the end of the week for our bookshelf/reading centre.



Want to try this? You can grab these labels for free by clicking here or on the image below!


If you want an editable version to add your own categories, you can find it in this file: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Simple-Editable-Storage-Organization-Labels-for-the-Classroom-11745681?st=3ad0d2e89d3d9024e5cd21a0f96f0cdd. Change the font to Century Gothic to get the same look as the freebie!

3. Organizing Shelves That Are Accessible to the Kids


My biggest advice here is to GET CLEAR BINS WITH LIDS! It is so much easier to find what you need when you can just see through the bins and being able to stack them lets you make the most of the space you have. It also saves me time because I don't feel the need to label clear bins since you can easily see what is inside them without labels. Win win.


My favourite clear bins for this size (seen above) are the Tuff Store 5.85L Plastic Clear Stackable Storage Utility Tote Box with Lid from Home Depot. At $2 a piece it's relatively affordable and the perfect depth for standard built in shelves! (However, always start with 1 bin or measure your space and make sure it fits in the space you need it for before buying a bunch!)


I also organize manipulatives I have less of in similar clear 2L containers with lids. They are on the right below:



The ones I used to use were from Dollarama and were 3 for $2 at the time. I haven't seen those in a while but this is the same size: Type A Clarity Transparent Storage Box with Lid 2L from Canadian Tire.



We do communal supplies so I just put each item in bins and I set out specific bins at centres that need them (or just the number of glue sticks needed at that table) so the students can come grab what they need from this area! 


Top Row: Pencils and Erasers


Middle Row: Crayons (We have been sorting crayons this way for years and we found the kids are more mindful when choosing colours when they are not mixed together and presented in a bin and it also reinforces sorting skills, but if a bin works for you group, go with the bin!)


Bottom Row: Glue Sticks


Not shown but in the next shelf over: Bins with scissors and bins with markers


Pencils trays and shallow bins the glue sticks are in were both from Dollarama. The crayons are just in clear plastic cups!


We very rarely do whole group activities at table tops that require these materials so this set up works well for us!


The only thing I would do differently is to label the shelves with what items goes there next time I set up a classroom, as sometimes I felt kids forgot where each item should go (mostly just at the beginning of the year).


Here are the labels I made up with this in mind! Click on the image below if you would like to grab these for you classroom for FREE :)



4. Organizing Your Cabinets


Unlike manipulatives and art supplies, I find centres hard to tell from just glancing at the bin so I do label them!


I like these clear bins from Home Depot (Tuff Store 19.4L Plastic Clear Stackable Storage Utility Tote Box & Snap on Lid) because they are relatively economical for the size and they fit well in my cabinets at school. Tip: Always think about where you will be storing the items and make sure they will fit in those spaces before purchasing a bunch!


Here's what I have in my bins:


- Alphabet/CVC/HFWs

- Inquiry & Themes: Vehicles, Dinosaurs, Hibernation, Migration, Butterflies. Space

- Sensory Tools & Filler

- Math Tubs x 2

- Christmas



- Digraphs/VCe

- 2 more math tubs

- Small World Supplies

- Writing Utensils

- Art Supplies: Stickers, Paint, Stamps, Ink Pads, Bingo Dabbers




After a few years I didn't have enough space to store all of my personal items at school (plus I was always taking everything home at the end of the year since I was in LTOs (contracts) most of my career) so I started storing holidays stuff in large storage bins and just bringing them to school for that week/month and take it back home. I have some space in my basement so I just store it there when not in use! While they are at school I just tuck it behind my desk or under my guided table.



I recommend the large totes with latches because they typically get heavy so it's easier to carry plus the lid doesn't fly off when you are carrying them!

I got these bins at Walmart (Sterilite brand) but they don't seem to have the same bin at the moment. Any large bin with latch would work! (Again be sure that it will fit where you are going to store them!)

I store the bins below if I have space to in the classroom, if not I keep these ones home as well and bring them to school as needed:


I like to use clear bins for organizing my art/supplies cabinet because I can easily see what's inside! 


I don't feel the need to label them, but when I have deep cabinets I type out a list of items that are in that cabinet/shelf and tape it to the inside of the door so I can see what's in that cabinet before taking everything in front of it out.

I don't have a photo of that but it looks like this:


This seems obvious but I also put the things I use the most in the front and less used items in the back.

The editable labels that's used in this section can be found here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Simple-Editable-Storage-Organization-Labels-for-the-Classroom-11745681?st=3ad0d2e89d3d9024e5cd21a0f96f0cdd or by clicking on the image below:


5. Organizing Paper Copies



I don't print and keep paper copies of centres or anything I can easily reprint (math lessons for example). The few things I do print and keep on hand on a shelf, I stick them in binders.

In the Parent Communication binder, I have hard copies of our newsletters, permission forms and then I put in a page protector so I can throw any notes that come through mail bags I want/need to keep.

In my Master Copies binder I have a few things I like to keep on hand, like back to school forms and anything that I don't have digitally (e.g. things other teachers have given me that I like and use yearly).

In my Literacy Assessments binder, well I keep my literacy assessment masters! I also have a tab for each student where I keep their past assessments. 

Again, in my Math Assessments binder, I keep math assessment masters and also have a tab for each students where I keep their past assessments. If you are interested, you can find the math assessments I use here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Assessment-Tracking-Sheets-Aligned-to-the-Ontario-Kindergarten-Program-2785909?st=bd9db9855782c0de9284fade48f126cd

Meetings & PD Notes has any handouts I received at staff meetings or professional development.

The Report Cards binder has my report card writing resources (like the placemats we get, anything I get from the board and the expectation cheat sheets from this resource).

Sub Binder: This is the binder I leave out with my day plans that go into detail any information I think would be helpful for the supply teacher to know about the class/day!

Special Education: This binder has all the forms and documentation for any children with special needs/IEPs/accommodations etc.


It does not include the contents for each, so please read the description, check out the preview and ask any questions prior to purchasing if you have any quesions!

6. Organizing Digital Files


I keep as much as I can digital on my laptop. What works for me is to start by making a folder with the school name and the year (e.g. Chris Hadfield 17/18) and then I keep things organized in there by month. So below I have September to December folders in the 2017 folder and January to June folders in the 2018 folder.



Things that I use year round stay out in the main folder part.

I think I've already stressed this enough but organization is all about if YOU will remember where things are. So group them together in the way that best makes sense for you and in a way you will remember!

All my digital resources I download from TPT or blogs go in the TPT folder. I have those organized like this:


Then I have sub folders within folders (e.g. I have a folder for each season and then whatever season or holiday that fits in that folder within it)

For example within Holidays/Seasons I have a Fall folder and within the Fall folder I have Fall, Thankgiving, Halloween, Remembrance Day, Diwali etc.

7. Organizing Daily Supplies for Myself



I put things I use daily right on my desk (as seen above) and anything I use while teaching in the buckets in my easel. 


The carousel I use to organize my writing utensils is the Storage Desktop Carousel by Simply Tidy from Micheals. They are very deep, so I put some coffee beans at the bottom so some of my less filled sections can stand up more easily!


I unfortunately don't have a more recent picture but I also love my teacher toolbox for organizing small things! I keep it in one of my shelves behind my teacher desk.



I left this at my last school and never went back to get it when I resigned (like many of my other things). They don't make this particular hardware organizer anymore but I'm getting a new one soon (it's on it's way as I type this!) so when I get it and label it I'll update the picture and share details here!


8. Other (FAQ's Not Answered in the Post)


How do you store toys when not in use?

You may be wondering where's my dramatic play stuff? Or toys? Well I don't really own too many! I first see what the classroom I've been given already has and then if there is anything that I/the kids really loved in my previous classroom I ask the principal if there is any money I can be given to purchase them (I don't ask for too much at once, it is more likely for them to say yes if you're not asking for a lot at once I find!)


Then if I need something else, I go around and ask other Kindergarten teachers (or Grade 1 teachers) if they own it and I can borrow it! I've always worked in teams that are willing to share so I've never really had a problem with this. I've even sent out emails to the whole staff if I was having trouble finding something and didn't want to purchase with my own money!


Any toys I do have I just store them in or above cabinets when not in use!


Do you pull materials for the day in the morning/day before or pull for the full week? And how do you store those you'll be using daily/weekly?


I kind of do both, I pull what I can for the next week on Friday after school and put them in a bin and then every day after school I double check that everything I need for the next day is set-up or in the bin.


Are all manipulatives in one bin? Or do you keep them with the activities that use them?


No, I keep manipulatives seperate and organize by manipulatives (e.g. snap cubes in one bin, counting bears in one bin) UNLESS I only use the material for that one particular centre. Then I put them with the centre/activity. Seasonal/holiday manipulatives go in their respective bins! But again, I'm going to sound like a broken record but our brains work so differently when it comes to organization so put things where YOU will remember best!


If something is Christmas themed & also patterning (for example) which bin do you sort them into?


This is answered in the question above, but I would put it in the Christmas bin because I would only use it during that time of the year!


9. An Ending Note


I love to organize and I do truly believe that the time and money spent is worth it when you think about the time you are saving looking for things when everything is organized.


BUT


Don't feel like it has to be/look perfect from the beginning.


I say this because organizing can be expensive and I know I did not have the money for all these special containers and bins when I set up my first classroom. I did my best and still spent money on bins but I got what was cheapest and fit where I needed to.


Nowadays I find that social media makes it seem like all these new teachers have these beautiful coordinated classrooms. But it really isn't realistic and we shouldn't feel like we need to spend so much money! I've accumulated what I've shown in this post over 7+ years and even still probably spent too much money (but organization is my jam and it makes me happy).


Anyhow I wanted to leave you with this post about my first classroom I set up: http://www.apinchofkinder.com/2014/08/classroom-reveal-2014.html


It's not perfect. Not everything is coordinated. I used what I could scrounge up from other teachers in the building who were willing to give me stuff. But I made it through the year and the kids never once said anything about mismatched bins or cubbies that were labeled with a sticker label! 


I hope this post was helpful!


Yukari

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