Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Organizing school supplies

I have tables in my classroom.  Each table seats up to 6 students, though since I have a max of 20 students each year, I usually put 5 per table.  I use community supplies, because it's difficult to find a place to put 20 crayon boxes when you have no cubbies in your room either!  I think the community supplies work out well, so I'm going to stick with them another year.

However, this year, I have a bit of a dilemma.  In years past, I have used crayon boxes and plastic slider pencil cases on each table.  Each table gets 2 crayon boxes and 1 slider pencil case, matched to my table colors.  It's a lot of work finding the crayon boxes in the correct colors!  I have a blue, red, green and yellow table.
The other problem?  I HATE THEM.  The slider pencil cases get on my nerves, and by the end of the year they are so destroyed that I have to buy new ones the next year.  The kids pull the inner plastic part out completely, then don't put it back correctly.  The plastic on the bottom gets bent, they no longer snap... a complete nightmare!  

I am also completely anal retentive when it comes to school supply storage.  It's probably more ridiculous than it should be, considering 6 and 7 year olds are using them, but I just have a need for all the pencil boxes and slider cases to be the same type.  Red table has to have 2 red crayon boxes and 1 red pencil case.  Blue table has to have 2 blue crayon boxes and 1 blue pencil case.  And on it goes.  The crayon boxes have to be the same design, or I go crazy.  Same with the pencil cases.  And all I've seen in stores this year are blue and pink crayon boxes.  That doesn't work at all.  (For the record, I have the ones from last year still, but they're all covered in crayon inside.  Eeewww.)

So I thought, maybe this year I'll do something different.  I've seen many teachers use table caddies to corral student materials.  So I went out and bought some caddies just in case.
I bought 2 different kinds of caddies to look at while I make my decision.  The ones I discard will go back to the store.  The black ones are from Meijer, and the colorful ones are from the Target dollar spot.

I realize that the black ones are all the same color while the Target ones are color coded by table.  I  thought an easy way to get around that was to add ribbon like Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle did in this post.  Too cute.  I already have several ribbon colors.  If I use the black ones, I can use ribbon colors like chartreuse or aqua instead of green and blue!  I think I'd much rather sit at the chartreuse table than the green table! :-)

More inspiration I found online was Erica Bohrer's table caddies made from a utensil organizer.  They are awesome!  I also saw larger cleaning supply caddies used as well.

So the other problem I have besides "which table caddy to use?" is "what do I put in them?"

As I stated, I have 5 students at each table that would need to share the supplies in each caddy.  The reason I had 2 boxes of crayons at each table is to make it easier to share supplies.  With 1 caddy, the supplies would have to sit in the middle of the table, making it more difficult for the students to share.  Then I thought about putting 2 crayon boxes in each caddy, which would barely fit and be a little awkward.  The Target caddies wouldn't allow it because 2 crayon boxes wouldn't fit.  I also need to store pencils in the caddies.  I bought small staplers for each table, though I haven't decided if I will put them at the tables or just hand them out when necessary.  I do NOT keep glue or scissors at the table, so the only things that really need to go in the caddies are crayons and pencils.  Possibly erasers.  

The Meijer caddy has 1 large opening, 1 medium sized opening, and 1 small opening.  The Target caddy has 1 large and 2 small.

I have been going over this over and over again.  I've looked online for ideas.  I could keep books in the caddies for students to read when they are finished.  Small notebooks to doodle in.  Erasers.  I am still mulling it over in my head.  Should I just go back to crayons and pencil boxes?  Do I try something new?  The question every teacher has every year!

So, that leads me to the question... do you have community supplies in your classroom?  How do you organize your supplies so your students can access them?  Any inspiration or help is appreciated!

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