Classroom Organization: Tips and Tricks
Classroom Organization Tip 1- Organizing Reading Material
Library Display Books
We’ll start in our classroom library where you find our wooden display shelf and our student book bins (from Really Good Stuff), as well as, Sterelite containers for themed books. If you search #1stgradebookshelf on Instagram you can sneak a peek at our weekly themed-bookshelves. I love these shelves because they expose students to a wide variety of books and authors, and build excitement. My friends can’t wait to see what books I’ve chosen for us on Monday mornings! Plus, my friends BEG for extra reading time on Monday mornings. (Read more about our weekly bookshelf in this blog post.)
I store and organize all of these books by month or general theme. I try to keep one theme in each bin, but sometimes small themes (like teeth or Valentines Day) double-up in the containers.
For student book bins I label them by number and attach the labels with permanent Glue Dots. Over all of last year, I only lost 3 labels by using the glue dots…making library set-up a breeze this year!
Next, onto our library: I have two LARGE metal cabinets. When you open them up, you find my Reading Street Leveled Readers (on the first shelf) and then, hard-back books (Seuss and Willems) and Listen to Reading Books.
I place listen-to-reading books in plastic bags if I have multiple copies of them. If I only have a single copy of a book, it goes in the bin solo. I sort the books into three groups – fall, spring, and anytime books. This makes trading out books for listening to reading simple. I typically keep 5-6 different book choices in our listen to reading center. (To learn more about our Listen to Reading center here.)
Weekly Magazines and Newspapers
Guided Reading Books
Classroom Organization Tip 2- Supplies
Manipulative and Basic Supplies
I clearly label every bin so my friends know exactly what to grab and where to put materials back. This helps keep things organized and allows students to be in charge. My friends know that anything with a label can be touched by a 1st grader. If a bin doesn’t have a label, they need to ask me before touching! (The bins on the left are size small and the ones on the right are size medium.)
Additionally, our number lines hang from a Command Hook. I purchased mine from Carson Delrosa, laminated them, hole-punched the end, and hung them. This keeps the number lines organized and easily accessible to my small friends.
Classroom Organization Tip 3- Planning
Right behind my teacher table, I also keep these color-coded bins organized and stocked for Guided Math. Often the manipulatives travel from bin-to-bin, but the assessments and mini-lesson materials are group-dependent. I love having my materials at arm’s reach, and it’s easy to restock them at the end of the day.
Organization is the key to a smooth-running classroom. It helps students know what to expect and gives them structure when working. My biggest takeaways from this year are (1) label things that you want students to be able to use independently (2) keep things at 1st-grader height and (3)figure out a color-system that makes management easy.
So, tell me, is organization something that comes naturally to you? What tips do you have for keeping it manageable? I’m always looking for new ideas, so I’d love to hear what works for you! For other FREE classroom resources and freebies, sign-up here for teaching ideas to land in your inbox each month.
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Oh-my-lanta. This takes "a place for everything and everything in it's place" to a whole new level. And in a completely and utterly amazing way. Beautiful!
Tales of a Tenacious Teacher
Cynthia Duarte says
Amazing post! Thank you for all the inspiration! I am determined to be as organized in my classroom this year! Can you please share what you do during Guided Reading?
Hi Cynthia! Thank you so much. I've shared more about my guided reading time here – http://thebrownbagteacher.blogspot.com/2014/11/guided-reading-1st-grade-style.html. If you have any questions, just let me know! 🙂
Kim A says
Love all your storage! My school was built in 1919 and you would cry at the lack of storage we have. Or at least I do ha. 😉
Samantha Hodgdon says
I am obsessed with the labels on your clear rolling cart. Where did you get those? I need them!
Kacie Brown says
Me too. So adorable!
Hi ladies! Thank you so much. 🙂 Here are the links –
Black/white labels: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Editable-Classroom-Organization-Labels-Black-White-and-a-Hint-of-Yellow-798286
Blue and White: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Editable-Classroom-Organization-Labels-Blue-White-1956784
Flamingos and Butterflies says
So beautiful! I am amazed with this level of organization. I wish I could be half as organized!
Kelly Cornelius says
I like organization too but you are far more organized than I am!! I get what you're saying about making your year run smoothly if you're organized. I feel that way too!
Renee Metzler says
Going back to teaching after 12 years. Where can I get free printable labels?
Rachel Czechura says
Thanks so much for the amazing ideas! I am definitely using hooks to hang our number lines and maybe even our 120s grid! Thanks again 🙂
Cathy Whitehead says
Love, love, love!! And I always love your photography. What kind of camera do you use?Read, Run, Teach
Thank you so much, Cathy! I actually use my iPhone to take photos. I am really particular about using natural lights for taking pictures (rather than overhead lights) which makes a difference. Then, I go into blogger and tweak the photo quality. There is a great tutorial here – http://xomisse.com/blog/how-to-fix-blurry-images-on-blogger/
Cathy Whitehead says
Awesome! Thank you sooooooo much!!!
Hope Newport says
Ohhhhh my teacher heart is pounding! Tub, tubs, labels, labels. Plus it gives me a good reason to laminate. Thanks for getting me in the back to school spirit 😉
Sharon Ricker says
I am changing classrooms and the grade I will be teaching this year. Over the past week I have been feeling some anxiety over the thought of going back to school. After reading this I realized that it's because I am nervous that I won't be able to get my new room organized and be ready to teach in a one weeks time. I love all how organized your room is. Thanks for some great ideas. I am going to buy some new storage tubs tomorrow!
Where / How do you store your math centers? Do you group them by topic / standard?
Hi Emily! Great question. I have a blog post coming soon, but I store them in sheet protectors inside a binder – with the visual directions on top. It makes them easy to grab and go!
Christina Hargrove says
I. Am. In. Teacher. Heaven. As a first-year teacher, I have been online searching for organization tips/ ideas. I finally found them! Thank you!
Wow. Just…WOW! Can you please come do my room?!! lol Amazing!
Amy Wuthrich says
I LOVE your organization! This is just the inspiration I have been looking for. I need to be organized to let my mind focus on other things, and your post has given me great ideas to get that done. Yay!!
Bethany Vincent says
Hey. I love al you bins you use for your math materials. Where do you get them?
Hi Bethany! I purchased mine from Amazon in packs of 6. I saved gift cards from my students and was able to afford to buy them in bulk. 🙂 http://amzn.to/1VDHjjK
Windy Mariscal says
I am getting rid of my teacher desk and filing cabinet. Any tips for how to organize without them?
Hi Windy! I completely understand I don't have a teacher desk either so I use my 3-drawer containers during my guided reading table. They are a lifesaver!
I wish I had all the shelves you have in your room! I have zero (Except for book shelves for my classroom library!)
That's so funny because I think I have WAY too much furniture. It leaves so little wall and moving space. I would love to get rid of a teacher desk and a rolling cabinet. The grass is always greener, right??
Your organization is AWESOME! I have viewed tons of organization sites and yours is definitely the most helpful (especially your library). Thank you so much!
Amanda Grabow says
How do you go about laminating your Scholastic New Magazines? I love this idea, I just can’t picture how I would laminate them. My magazines have middle pages to them, is yours just the 2 pages? Any ideas would be helpful! Thanks!
Hi Amanda! The K/1 magazines are just one page, so they laminate easily. I’m not sure that you could laminate them if they had a middle page! 🙂
Early Sunday morning…found this post…getting breakfast and coffee…then off to my classroom! THANK YOU! two months ago would have been perfect timing…but it’s never too late. ??
This is the type of classroom organization I’ve always dreamed of, but have never been able to achieve for my special education classroom. I’m so envious!
How do you attach your labels?
Hey Katie! I attach them with glue dots (permanent ones) and they have stayed for years!
This is AMAZING! I want to go and redo my entire room when I should be enjoying Christmas break…. Love all of the bins and the color coding.
I am in love with your organized classroom! But for the 10 drawer rolling drawers how do you stick them on? Do you laminate them first and then use the glue dots? Do you laminate all your labels?
Hey Angie! I laminate, cute, and then use glue dots. 🙂
Inspiring! Thank you for sharing!
Stephanie Galloway says
Would you mind sharing where you bought the white shelf that stores all the bins for stations? Thank you!
It’s actually a set of cubbies built into the wall. Sorry!
Suz in Pa says
To laminate center pages of magazines try clear contact paper on both sides. Cut to size. If not to thick, try cutting all sides together with paper cutter.
This post was so helpful! For the themed books in the Sterelite containers, are these themed picture books that you would read aloud to the class or themed books at a first grade level? Do you have students fill their book bins with a few books from the leveled bins and a few from the themed bins? Appreciate any help and insight!