Organizing Your Shelves—Student Materials

A few weeks ago I talked about maximizing your shelving for teacher supplies.  Now lets chat about student storage areas.


I am a believer of making student materials accessible to children.  Therefore it is essential to have a system in place that is easy for them to maintain. Here are a few tips.


Group like objects together. This could be by content area or purpose.


It is OK, for example, to have math games in one place and math manipulatives in another. I just don’t suggest having math games in three different places or wherever one wants to put them.  Students can learn that each item has a specific place to be stored.


Choose containers that suit your needs and preference. If you don’t want to see what is inside use an opaque container. Do make sure it is labeled.


For transparent containers labeling may be optional as you can see what it contains.


Expect that children put things away in a neat and consistent manner.  You need to model what you want them to do.  Don’t assume they know what a tidy shelf looks like. Tell them that by taking care of our supplies we are taking pride in our classroom.


I have students put boxes away with the label showing. Also, textbooks are shelved with the spine facing out.  Explain to students that this is necessary so we can all find things quickly and independently. If items got put away incorrectly and I didn’t see who did it I simply ask someone to fix it. Children do want to be a part of making their room look good.


Students want and need to be responsible for getting the supplies they need and for keeping their classroom organized.  By teaching them a simple routine they will be motivated to keep their room looking great.

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