How To Organize Student Supplies￼
By Mary Montero
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There’s just something about back to school time that makes my heart so happy! In the weeks leading up to our first day, I can’t pass a store display of school supplies or organizational tools without swooning. Give me all the pens, storage containers, book bins, and folders! Except sometimes the chaos of organizing all those supplies can be a little stressful. As a new teacher, I had no idea how to organize student supplies and wasted a lot of time because of it. Now I use these tried and true ways to sort and organize all year long.
Individual or Community Supplies
The decision to maintain individual school supplies or combine all resources into shared supplies may be a schoolwide decision, but if not there are pros and cons to each method. I’ve personally used both and found that individual supplies often last longer, but community supplies tend to be quicker. Even when students use individual supplies, I keep extras on hand to share.
For individual student supplies, a small pencil box or pouch works best to hold pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, and glue. This travels easily with students as they visit centers, use flexible seating, change classrooms for instruction, etc. If you’re using community supplies, a classroom caddy (Amazon affiliate link) at each table or station works great! My students keep loose leaf notebook paper in the wrapper at their desks, but I also have a paper tray for anyone who needs to restock.
Finally since space is limited in desks, I collect all extra supplies at the beginning of the year and keep them accessible so students can restock as-needed. Students write their name on the side of their extra crayon boxes, markers, glue, and paper packs. Then students store their supplies in alphabetical order on an empty shelf with names facing out.
To help keep students organized, I color code almost everything. I request specific colors for folders and notebooks to help with this. For example, we use red reading folders and notebooks. When it’s time for our reading block, I can easily see if everyone has the correct supplies with a quick glance thanks to the color. When using community supplies I color code caddies by table.
As a side note, I also color code my own supplies for subjects and days of the week too. Each day of the week has its own folder and each subject has its own color. As I make copies for the week, everything goes straight into its correct spot. This makes it easier to find exactly what I need throughout the day and plan for a sub too.
I also use these book bins (Amazon affiliate link) for student supplies. All students have one book bin for their subject folders and notebooks. Since desks are small and textbooks are large, I found this was the best way to neatly store subject materials. My students also store 1-2 future independent reading books in these bins so they don’t have to visit the library as often, which cuts down on wasted time.
The book bins are also helpful when a student is absent and needs makeup work sent home. Instead of digging through desks, I can simply go to the student’s book bin and grab the color-coded supplies needed. They can carry it around with them if we are using flexible seating.
If you don’t have space for plastic bins, chair pockets (Amazon affiliate link) are another option.
More Tips for a Smooth Year
I hope these simple tips take the stress out of how to organize student supplies off your list this year! If you’re looking for more back to school ideas, here’s how I organize parent volunteers.
You can also read all of my back to school tips here.
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I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.