Where Will Students Put Their Stuff?
This is by far the most common question I get when someone learns my littles don’t have desks. It has definitely required some creative thinking on my part, but it has almost been better than having them have a designated “black hole.” Come on, I know each of you know what I’m talking about. Papers, journals, and pencils that disappear into the great abyss. I’m a huge stickler for transition times. I like to get my kids trained so that procedures, such as securing their math journal, happens in little to no time, so that learning time is maximized. A common phrase in our classroom is, "__________ with a purpose." Walk with a purpose, grab your supplies with a purpose, go to the restroom with a purpose. Basically, don't waste your time.
Picture this: 22 seven-year-olds sitting on the carpet. They are dismissed by color to get their math journal, a writing utensil, and get started on their math station. All of this happens in under a minute and a half.
My secret weapon? IKEA Trofast organizers. I splurged for two of these and haven’t thought twice about it. They have held strong for two years and have helped facilitate the smoothest transitions. I can’t wait to hear about how other teachers organize their supplies!
Their carpet square color from this Lakeshore rug corresponds to the colored label on their Trofast organizer drawer. For my second graders, I had a drawer for their writing journals, and a larger one for their math and science journals. For my kindergarteners this year, I am going to swap the larger drawer for two smaller ones and have one for their writing journals, one for their science journals, and one for their math journals. Even though the math and journals were in the same bucket, my second graders were masters at maximizing this transition time. Just want to make it a little easier for my kindergarteners!
We utilize Lucy Calkins Workshop curriculum, so each student has a book bin for reading, which they use for their self-selected reading material. Their reading journal, which confirms their goals, copies of anchor charts, and resources is kept here, along with a copy of sight words, and a plastic envelope so that they can take books to and from home.
Even though each student brings supplies, we have communal supplies, such as pencils, pens, crayons, and markers. I wanted to honor that a pencil box was on our supply list and didn’t want to tell parents, “no thanks," so I kept it in the kids’ backpacks. It held their sight words for the grading period, along with a set of playing cards and directions for 5+ math games to use with the cards. Storing the communal supplies on the main organizer has been wonderful. The students grab what they need quickly and begin. There are also supply buckets on some of our tables, minimizing the need to get up and move while they are hard at work.
Completed student work goes into these mailboxes, but these could also be used to store journals and supplies. I use a clip every year to label their names, and wipe off with nail polish remover. ((That should totally be a trick taught to all teachers during college!))
There are also areas around our classroom where we have everyone's materials. For example, we don't use our word work spiral each day, so I have them in one spot. I use the storage on the stand up desk for manipulatives and other materials.
What if I don’t want to buy an organizer like this?
I’ve seen awesome teachers use “book bins” to house students’ supplies. You could do individual bins for the various journals and supply boxes, or stay with the “colors.” If you chose to divide by color groups, you could have a color captain to get the supplies and quickly distribute, or dismiss by color. Be creative! Think about your space, your resources and what will work for you and your learners!