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Let’s Get Organised! Classroom Organisation And Storage Tips

lets get orgainised magnetic lettering on grass background with teaching resources surrounding

‘Now where did I put that…?’ Raise your hand if you’ve asked yourself this question AT LEAST a hundred times in the past school year. You’re not alone if you have both hands raised! As teachers, it’s totally normal for us to misplace items among the many resources, documents, books, folders, lesson plans, stationery etc. etc. ETC.  we have in our busy classrooms! There is definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to organising a classroom and what works well for one teacher might not be suitable for another.

I consider myself an ‘organisational enthusiast’ and nothing excites me more than matching labels and tubs (am I right?!). Over the past few years as a teacher I have tried and tested many systems to see which work for me. Some systems I have stuck with and others have failed miserably, but it’s all about trial and error, right? In this blog, I will share my best organisation and storage tips to help keep your classroom tidy in the new school year ahead!

Start With A Tidy Desk

A tidy classroom starts with a tidy desk. We spend a lot of time at our desks planning lessons, grading students’ work and preparing resources and it’s very hard to concentrate on getting all the jobs done if your personal workspace is a mess. As a busy teacher, I find it challenging to keep my desk clean and often use my desk as a ‘dumping ground’. Lately, I have had a lot more success with keeping my desk clean as I am now utilising a better organisation system. I now have shelves above my desk as well as these beautiful rainbow drawers that help my desk stay neat and tidy.

rainbow storage containers on classroom desk

Featured Products:
Drawer system
Desk organiser

I used to have paperclips and bulldog clips EVERYWHERE until I discovered this ‘Teacher Toolbox’ system. I now store all of the little bits and bobs teachers always need handy in these drawers and they help keep my desk (and classroom!) organised. I love being able to easily pull out what I need, when I need it.

really useful storage containers with coloured foldback clips and sight word flashcards

Featured Product
Drawer system

At the risk of sounding dramatic, these drawers have been absolutely LIFE CHANGING! Not only are these drawers rainbow (#rainbowobsessed), they have played a crucial role in helping to keep my desk mess-free. These drawers help to keep my paperwork all organised and OFF my desktop. Depending on my organisational mood (is that a thing?), I organise my documents in these drawers by day, week or even sometimes by subject. They are just perfect for my classroom.

really useful storage containers with bottom draw open

Featured Product:
Desk organiser

Organise Resources Effectively

If resources are not organised effectively, they can quickly make your classroom seem very unorganised and messy. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about… you know, the shelf in your classroom that has resources shoved on it, none of them in containers and you don’t even know what half of them are? We’ve all been there. To avoid shelves like this, I like to keep my resources in a variety of matching containers and baskets. In my Prep classroom, the resources that we use most often are kept in matching open baskets. This means they are easily accessible from the shelves and can quickly be put on the tables and carpet area when needed. Matching baskets effortlessly make the shelves look organised too.

storage baskets filled with classroom resources in classroom environment

Featured Product:
Seagrass Storage Baskets

Not all of my classroom resources are kept in open baskets like this. For resources that are used less, I keep them in matching stackable containers. Finding containers that can stack up on top of each other has been a major game changer for me as they take up so much less space. I keep these containers on shelves in my office and can easily locate what I need, when I need it.

labelled containers full of teaching resources stacked

This is one of the first organisational systems I set up when I became a Prep teacher due to the enormous amount of laminated/paper resources we use and it’s been a system that I’ve found really useful. Each game or resource is kept in a clear plastic wallet and then these are all kept in book boxes. At the moment, I have the book boxes separated into ‘Literacy Resources’ and ‘Numeracy Resources’. For the 2020 school year, I plan on updating these book box labels to include subheadings such as ‘Sight Word Resources’, ‘Alphabet Resources’ etc. to further organise this space and make resources even easier to locate.

Colourful book boxes filled with classroom activity sheets
Featured Products
Magazine Book Boxes

In any classroom, there are certain parts of the room that can look like a bomb has hit it and the art area is one of them. We do lots of arts and crafts in Prep and need many resources to be able to do all of these wonderful activities. I keep our plethora of collage items readily available and effortlessly organised by storing them all in these Handy Storage Containers.

Art and craft storage containers filled with classroom resources

Featured Products:
1 Litre Handy Storage Containers

It’s a Joint Effort!

Keeping a classroom tidy and organised should never be solely up to the teacher. It is a joint effort and students must be taught how to care for and take pride and ownership of their classroom and their belongings. At the beginning of each school year, it is imperative to set clear expectations and model to students how resources need to be organised. I also like to take pictures of what spaces should look like and how things should be organised and keep these pictures nearby for students to refer to when tidying up. In our construction area, I made black cut-outs of the block shapes so students easily know which blocks go where when tidying up. These cut-outs keep our block area tidy and students can take full ownership of caring for this area.

colourful book containers in a classroom setting

Another way I encourage my students to keep our classroom organised is by setting up systems that are age appropriate and achievable. We keep our workbooks all together as we do not have individual desks. So, at the beginning of the year, I set up a coloured label system so students can easily identify that their workbook with the yellow label needs to be put away in the yellow book box. This system easily keeps our 150+ books neat and organised.

colourful book boxes on shelf

We keep all of our other stationery items together too and my students have been explicitly taught how to care for and organise these shared resources that we keep in stationery caddies. We have pictures of what our caddies are expected to look like after tidying up and I even assign “Caddy Cadets” which is a special job where students tidy the caddies, if they are looking like they need a bit of extra love.

storage caddies filled with classroom reasources in classroom environment

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

You know that saying “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”? Well, it’s totally true! Planning is a major part of keeping a classroom running smoothly, not to mention keeping teachers SANE! My number one recommendation on how to be organised as a teacher is to invest in a quality planner.

teacher planner on desk with coloured pens

Featured Products:
Drawer system
Desk organiser
Teacher Planner 2020

I love this Teacher Planner from Modern Teaching Aids as they have included anything and everything a teacher could ever want in a planner. One of my favourite features of this planner is the plastic storage pockets for notes and loose papers. I feel like I’m going to be a lot better at not losing important bits of paper and tax receipts thanks to these! There are also plenty more pages to keep track of everything like passwords, a professional development log, assessment trackers and notes. Everything important can be kept in the ONE PLACE!

teacher planner wallet in teachers hand in classroom environment

I like how this planner has separated each of the school terms by colourful tabs, making it easy to flick between terms and note down important dates and reminders. These are adjustable too!

teacher planner tearm dividers storage containers in background

Another one of my favourite features of this Teacher Planner is how it has a section for goals and overviews for each term. I use these pages to plan ahead and set goals and reminders for each term and it is really helpful to see at first glance how the term is going to look. The planner also includes 53 double page week-to-view pages so you can plan each week in more detail. I find it really useful being able to easily refer back to my Term Overview and Goals as I plan each week in more depth. Each week also has a spot for your weekly to-do list, which I LOVE as I am a list-making addict!

teacher planner goals spread open in classroom with red and purple pens

teacher planner week spread open on desk

This planner has considered so many aspects of teaching life and I like how it includes a space to plan your classroom layout. Setting up the classroom at the beginning of the year is one of my absolute favourite parts of being a teacher so the fact that this planner gives me the opportunity to draw where everything is going to go first is amazing!

teacher planner learning space planning page spread open in classroom with green pen

Last but not least, the thing that makes this planner that extra bit special is the 53 weekly inspirations to support your teaching program. These pieces of inspiration are written by fellow primary school teachers and cover topics such as mindfulness, mindset and wellbeing, cooperation and team building as well as seasonal activity ideas! I think these are super helpful and inspiring, especially on those hard days when you need a little extra pick-me-up!

 

teacher planner teaching prompts spread open in classroo, with blue pen

 

teacher planner relaxation prompt spread open on classroom desk

 

Featured Products:
Drawer system
Desk organiser
1 Litre Handy Storage Containers
Magazine Book Boxes
Seagrass Storage Baskets
Teacher Planner 2020

What is your best tip to keep your classroom organised? We would love to hear from you!

ABOUT HEIDI:
Heidi Overbye from Learning Through Play is a Brisbane based, Early Years Teacher who currently teaches Prep, the first year of formal schooling in Queensland. Heidi is an advocate for play-based, hands-on learning experiences and creating stimulating and creative learning spaces. Heidi shares what happens in her classroom daily on her Instagram page, Learning Through Play. See @learning.through.play for a huge range of activities, play spaces and lesson ideas.

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Teaching With Teachables

Teachables magnetic whiteboard and magnetic letters

You know those resources that you use every day in your classroom that make your life easier? That’s how I feel about Teachables products. I discovered these resources when I started teaching Prep last year and they are, without a doubt, the teaching tools that I use most at school.

Writing is a huge focus in my classroom, and I spend a lot of time each day engaging my students in writing through different ways and with different resources. In this blog post, I will go through how I use products from the Teachables range in my classroom as part of my writing curriculum.

Whole Group Teaching and Learning

In Prep, there are a lot of times during the day when we come together and engage in whole-group teaching and learning. Whether it be teaching proper letter formation or modelling writing sentences, I am constantly using my Teachables Magnetic Lined Write and Wipe Sheet. At my school, we teach students how to write on lines from the first term of school, so having this Lined Whiteboard near our group-time area is really handy as I am constantly using it to model writing.

 

Letter Formation 

Whiteboard letter formation using the letter M

We use our Lined Write and Wipe Sheet a lot for learning about correct letter formation. When introducing a letter to my students, I will model how to correctly form that letter before students go to the tables and engage in activities to reinforce this learning. As a transition to the tables, students will come and have a go at writing this letter – my students just LOVE writing on the “teacher whiteboard”!

 

Sentence Work

Whiteboard sentance work

In my classroom, we also use our Lined Whiteboard a lot for sentence work. In this routine, the focus is on developing students’ confidence with writing sentences, editing sentences through proofreading, using correct punctuation, using finger spaces between each word and forming letters properly. Usually, I will have a sentence typed up and we will read the sentence together before I cut and jumble it up (for a ‘transformation’). As a class, we put the sentence back together and then write the sentence underneath. Doing this together as a class means that I can model the expectations before students complete this task independently at the tables.

Sentance structure student book

This particular sentence (pictured) was also linked to our English rhyme unit when we were exploring rhyming books and rhyming sentences.

 

Learning with Magnetic Letters

Magnetic letters are a fun and hands-on way for children to meaningfully engage with literacy. Magnetic letters are the perfect tool for developing letter recognition and letter formation as well as word building and sentence building. Over the course of my teaching career, I have used various types of magnetic letters in my classroom but the thing I love about the Teachables Magnetic Letters is that the letters are in print-sized font, there is a minimum of eight of each letter, which means students are always able to find the letters they need, and the vowels and consonants are colour-coded.

 

Word Building

Word building with magnetic letters on whiteboard

One of the ways we use our Magnetic Letters is for word building. At this time of year, most of the word building work we are doing is around CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. I will say to my students, “Let’s make a blue-red-blue word” so they can visually see that these words are made up of three letters – two consonants and one vowel.

Magnetic whiteboard sight word activity with magnetic letters and pens

Sometimes, we do word building as a whole class where we will choose a word, stretch it out so we can hear all of the sounds and then record the sounds through selecting magnetic letters. Other times, I will implement word building as a small group activity where students will build words with the magnetic letters and then write them on their magnetic whiteboards also.

 

Practising our Names

Magnetic whiteboard names activity  with magnetic letters and pens

In the first term of Prep, learning to recognise, write and spell our names properly is a big focus. There are various ways I get my students to practise writing and making their names – sometimes we do artworks, sometimes we trace and other times we use hands-on materials to build and spell our names. A small group activity I like to set up during literacy rotations involves students making their names using the magnetic letters and then writing their name underneath. It’s a great way to practise!

 

Developing Letter and Number Formation

In Prep, we focus a lot on learning proper letter and number formation so that students can build confidence in their writing. There are several ways I encourage letter and number formation in my classroom and I love using different resources to build these skills such as sensory writing in rainbow rice or sand, on our Interactive Smartboard and using our Teachables Alphabet Whiteboard and Teachables Number Whiteboard.

 

Alphabet Whiteboard

alphabet whiteboard and pen on grass background

The Teachables Alphabet Whiteboard comes in Foundation font, which is perfect for my Prep students as it is almost identical to the Queensland Beginner’s Font that we use. The whiteboards are double-sided with uppercase letters on one side and lowercase letters on the other. Usually, we will trace the lowercase side first together as a class and then turn over to the uppercase as part of our writing warm up.

alphabet whiteboards completed on grass background

The best part about these whiteboards is that they feature directional, numbered arrows to showcase the correct way to form each letter. I have seen a huge improvement in my students’ handwriting as they transfer their knowledge and practice from using the whiteboards into their independent writing.

 

Number Whiteboard

number whiteboard and pen on purple background

Similar to the Teachables Alphabet Whiteboard, the Teachables Number Whiteboard enables students to gain confidence with forming numerals correctly. There are four lines on the whiteboard, and as each line progresses, students must showcase increasing independence with forming numerals. I love this ‘gradual release’ system as it gives students confidence and guidance. The easy write on, wipe off surface of these whiteboards also makes it easy for students to correct mistakes and edit their work.

 

Encouraging Writing

Encouraging writing activity featuring book whiteboard and pen

Out of all of the Teachables products, these Lined Whiteboards are the resource I use most with my students, as it is extremely versatile. The lines on these whiteboards are spaced at 5.7cm, which makes them the perfect size for students of all ages and abilities to practise their writing, no matter how big or small their letters and words are.

writing literacy fishing game

This is especially useful for Prep students who are just beginning to learn how to write on lines and are still experimenting with the sizing of letters. Some of the ways we use our Lined Whiteboards include; practising letter formation, playing sight word games, writing out our favourite page from the book we read during guided reading and independent sentence writing.

 

Picture Story Whiteboards

completed picture story whiteboard with pen on grass background

My students love using these Picture Story Whiteboards because there is room to illustrate their piece of writing, and what child doesn’t love drawing? These whiteboards are ideal for allowing students to convey their ideas through text and illustrations. We use these Picture Story Whiteboards to write and draw sentences, write and draw about what we did on the weekend, as well as write more in-depth stories. When writing on these whiteboards, (as well as with all of the other Teachables resources) we use the Teachables Thin Lined Markers as they are the perfect width and students can write on the lines successfully.


Featured Products:

Teachables Magnetic Whiteboard – 30cm x 40cm

Teachables Lined Whiteboards – Pack of 30

Teachables Magnetic Lined Write & Wipe Sheet

Thinline Whiteboard Markers Black – Pack of 12

Teachables Picture Story Whiteboard – Pack of 30

Teachables Alphabet Whiteboard Foundation Font – Pack 30

Teachables Whiteboard Number Tracing – Pack of 30

Magnetic Letters – 488 Pieces

 

I’ve shown you some of my favourite Teachables products. Which one of them would you like to use in your classroom? We would love to hear from you!

ABOUT HEIDI:
Heidi Overbye from Learning Through Play is a Brisbane based, Early Years Teacher who currently teaches Prep, the first year of formal schooling in Queensland. Heidi is an advocate for play-based, hands-on learning experiences and creating stimulating and creative learning spaces. Heidi shares what happens in her classroom daily on her Instagram page, Learning Through Play. See @learning.through.play for a huge range of activities, play spaces and lesson ideas.