Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Bright Idea: Color-Coded Supply Organization!

WooHoo! It's time, once again, for the Bright Ideas Link Up... , a "commercial free" (no store links) collection of teacher-approved ideas for the classroom. I love the Bright Ideas Link Up--I enjoy spending Bright Idea Saturday morning sipping my coffee and gathering ideas to make my life easier!

I am always looking for ways to keep student supplies organized so that I don't have to run around saying "I found a pencil! Which table is missing a lime green colored pencil?!"

In my classroom, I have six table groups with six kids at each table, and there is a limited amount of space with binders, reading books, etc. We keep our textbooks on the bookshelves and we don't use the "inside" of the desks (The tables are turned around so there is no access). I don't like the way things accumulate in desks and I can't keep up with the organization necessary to support kids in keeping their desks clean. Further, we change seats throughout the day, so I need all of the supplies to always be available--no matter where students are seated for an activity.

So, we use a community supply box for the whole table. I have shared about my "dotted supplies" before...

Each table has a color, and the markers and colored pencils have dots on them. The box is dotted too! It makes things so easy to organize! (I don't dot the crayons.) My favorite time to add the dots to markers and pencils is on a road trip during the summer. It's a good way to pass the time, and the task is accomplished quickly while enjoying the scenery (I guess I should specify that this only works when I am the passenger!)

But the system is actually bigger and better. It's no secret that I am a little over-the-top when it comes to organization. (That almost makes my obsession sound like a positive trait.) You have to have matching scissors to make a system like this work. I've used a loop of paper with the dot on it... and I have chosen not to dot scissors at all. This year, everything just fell into place.

Here's what it looks like from the bottom to the top...

I use Rubbermaid snap-cases because they stay closed and stack easily. There is plenty of both lined paper and unlined paper in the bottom of the box. Kids rarely have to get up to get supplies if everything is right there within reach. (YAY! Happy teacher!)

There are six rulers. Some years I go with multiple colors... This year, I went with a one-color-per-box design. Obviously, I am going to be showing you the purple table box... Did you guess it is my favorite?

They have markers and crayons...

There are three glue sticks (partners share) a stapler and a tape dispenser. That "old fashioned film canister" (Am I THAT old?!) is filled with paper clips.

Finally, there are colored pencils and scissors. This is what the supply box looks like when you open it...

And here is what it looks like when it's closed.

Here is the "purple box." This sits in the middle of Table 4.

And here's why I love this system...
1. Everything is RIGHT THERE. We don't lose any time trying to find things. (No wandering necessary!)
2. It is SO easy to maintain. We have table captains that change each week. When it is your week, the last thing you do at the end of the day is check to make sure that your table box is organized. This is the time to refill the paper supply, or to ask for more staples.
4. Everything fits. One of our first "management lessons" during the first week of school is practicing the placement of items in the table box. We empty the box and work together to fill it correctly. Students now put things away without having to think about where each item goes.
5.  "Lost" items are reunited with their homes quickly. Kids know the box color for their table. I always chuckle (quietly, of course), when I hear a student say something like, "The green table is missing a ruler..."
6. It's pretty! I know that's not a very educationally sound reason for choosing an organizational system, but it does make my heart happy!
7. It has taught my kids self-management and cooperation. They know how to keep the supplies organized... and the communal nature of the supplies necessitates sharing. Table captains are responsible for passing out supplies for a lesson and keeping the box organized. And everyone gets a turn being responsible for the upkeep.
8. It works for us. I've used the same system for over ten years with very few adjustments!

Okay, that's probably more than enough gushing over matching scissors.

There are SO many Bright Ideas in this Link Up, you are going to need a second cup of coffee! Look at the little pictures below and choose by grade level or blogger or Bright Idea. I'll probably pass by you along the way.

Have fun! Thanks for visiting!


  1. OMG we have the same topic this month! How funny! At least mine is the little Firsties version - we can't handle our own rulers for more than 10 minutes at a time! xo

  2. I love this. I have to find those big organizing current school, I've been there 5 years, no matter how hard I train the kids, they do NOT put things back where they belong. I despise indoor recess because I come back from lunch and invariably Monopoly pieces are still everywhere. This may be my saving grace!

  3. I need this in my room! I have a supply "area" that students use, but it's too much wandering around the room and too much stuff disappears. I'm making these tomorrow!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I can't wait to give it a try in my class. They are constantly looking for pencils and paper. This should save time and frustration.

  5. You know that I love this! I need this now! Well, maybe I can wait until next year. OMG, I love this!


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