Information on this page provided for
classroom use only; not for publication.
My very favorite tip is probably one that I picked up
last summer. Wind a large rubberband around the nozzle
of the soap dispenser so that when the students push it
down, it only goes down about half way. This gives
them half a squirt instead of a full squirt which is too
much for washing small hands. This has saved us
countless amounts of wasted soap. Adults are
allowed 2 squirts! :)
Paint: My second favorite is adding a squirt of
liquid soap to each paint container before the students
begin painting. Use the brush to mix the soap and
paint. This helps to remove paint if it
gets on clothing. It also makes clean-up easier.
(Submitted by Kay) Not only does the adding of
liquid soap to paint help the cleanup, but the adding of
some liquid starch seems to extend the paint's
smoothness and often all I have to do is add some water
when the paint runs out instead of adding more paint.
Try and see what you think.
Paint Pans: I use left-over Lean Cuisine or Weight
Watcher frozen entree pans to distribute paint to my
students for painting. We all paint at one table,
so I just pour the appropriate amount of paint into each
pan. With the squirt of soap mentioned above, I
simply have to rinse out the pans and turn them
upside-down to dry. Then they're ready to use
No-spill paint trays: Plastic pet food bowls with a wide
base at the bottom are great for student to us as paint
trays because they will not tip over. I purchase
cute inexpensive ones from the dollar store. They
work great, are easy to stack to store, and clean easy.
Submitted by Nancy Reese, PreK Teacher, Pensacola, FL
Shannon: One thing that I use when painting are the
plastic cupcake containers (the ones you get when you
buy the cupcakes from the bakery) that come from
Wal-Mart or Sam's (the ones with the lids attached). The
paint will keep up to a week without drying out. I
like to use these when I have to mix up special colors.
Also, when you buy
the really big cupcakes from Sam's they come in a box
with a clear plastic insert in the lid (which is
attached). I use this as a green house when we
plant seeds in class (I have no windows in my
classroom). Grass seeds will grow in less than a
Sentence Strip Storage: Clip sets of sentence
strips together on one end using paper clamps.
Then flip down one "wing" of the clamp while leaving the
other "wing" up. The wing left up provides the
perfect hanger for hanging the sentence strips on a peg
Sentence Strip Storage II: Sentence strips can
also be stored in various types of containers. I
use the more traditional cardboard storage box that can
be purchased commercially for this. I also keep
those belonging with themes in plastic storage tubs from
Wal-Mart that I use to store the other theme resources.
Two more containers are florist boxes that are used for
long stemmed roses and the pan that is used to apply the
glue to the back of wallpaper. I'm told that these
two containers are the perfect size and convenient for
storing sentence strips.
Shared by Lois:
To store sentence strips I cut the bottom out of old
library pockets and slip the set of strips through.
Then I label what's inside on the outside of the
pocket. Sometimes I add a large paper clip to hold the
strips securely inside. Works well for me.
Thematic Resources: All my resources for each
theme are stored in a 3 part system. It seems to
take all 3 parts for me to keep everything organized.
1 - all hardcopy copies and printables are kept in one
or more (depending on the binder and the size of the
unit) 3 ring binders. My really big units like
Farm, Halloween, etc. have 3 inch binders that are
packed to capacity. Christmas has a 3" binder and
I've started on a second binder. (And you also
have to remember that I've been teaching now for 19
years and I have to teach skills from pre-K through 2nd
... so that's a LOT of skills to collect resources for,
plus a long time to have collected them.) I also
have my extras that I photocopied and never used hole
punched and added to the backs of the binders so I won't
copy them again. I try to divide the originals
into sections like:
* or into
sub-categories ... like the Farm unit has a sub-category
with Mrs. Wishy Washy
I also add (as many
as needed) empty page protectors to the front of the
binder. I use these as pockets, so get some that
will hold up. This is where I put any odd sized
things that can't be hole punched such as example
emergent readers, models for art projects, etc.
All of the binders
are kept on a shelf in alphabetical order. It's
much easier for me to plan when I can flip through the
binder instead of having to dig through over-stuffed
file folders. Plus, I normally do my planning at
home, and carrying file folders back and forth isn't my
favorite since they are more than prone to dumping
themselves out all over the place at the most
inopportune moments such as when you're leaving for
school and already running late or it's the windiest day
of March and it's in the middle of the EMPTY school
parking lot! :)
Part 2 - Because
when I'm filing hardcopies into units I don't always
have the time to pull down binders and hole punch and
insert them into the binder, I also kept my files for
each unit in my filing cabinets. Each unit has a
file folder in a hanging file and I just drop the pages
down into the file folder. Then before I take the
matching binder home to plan, I empty the file folder
from the cabinet, hole punch and add the pages to the
FRONT of the binder. The now empty file folder
goes back into the filing cabinet. And if you get
bored, and have nothing to do, you can always go through
your filing cabinet and hole punch the pages and add
them to the appropriate binder. :)
If I've already
organized the binder into sections, before I begin
planning, I quickly sort the new pages that I added to
the front of the binder into the appropriate section.
And believe me ... I don't really have very many of my
binders already divided into sections. This is
definitely an on-going process.
Part 3 - Each
theme/unit has their own storage container. I
started out using the cardboard boxes that our school
purchased reams of paper in and am slowly moving into
purchased plastic storage containers from Wal-Mart.
I think they're the 30 qt. size with the snap-on lids.
I should have all my 40 something containers converted
to the new plastic containers by the time I retire!!! :)
I like the plastic containers because of course they
look nicer, but mostly because they hold larger items
that the cardboard boxes won't, such as Big Books and
larger models for art projects, puzzles, games, etc.
Each container has
all the books for that theme, videos, any manipulatives,
or extra stuff that won't fit into the binder. I
don't put my resource books in there though unless it's
something that I can only use for that theme. I
like to keep them handy on my shelf in case I need them.
I don't want to have to pull those boxes down looking
All of the storage
containers are stored on top of built in cabinets and a
storage cabinet, or are stacked in a corner. I
want them easily accessible (well, as easy as it can be)
but out of the way and out of sight if possible (but
Dividers: At first, I was spending a lot of money
purchasing dividers for my binders, then I came up with
a better idea. I use the papercutter to cut down
file folders to 11" in length. Then I use the 3
hole punch to punch holes in them on the fold.
Then I label the tab for that section with a Sharpie and
insert the file folder as the divider. It makes a
really sturdy divider. If you wanted, you could
cut the side of the folder off that doesn't have the tab
and use it for something else. It's just easier
for me to use the whole folder as the divider. And
you can probably get a whole box of folders for what
you'd pay for a pack of dividers.
I've recently (within the past year or so) started
removing the themes, units, and pages that I'll use from
my Mailbox magazines. I started doing this with
Teacher's Helper, because they so nicely started
perforating their pages and not adding stuff to the back
that didn't go with what was on the front of the page.
So once I started doing this with Teacher's Helper, I
gradually started working on my Mailbox magazines. (I
get The Mailbox K and Primary, and Teacher's Helper K
and 1st. I've also just started getting
Pack-O-Fun) I take a sharp pair of scissors and
use one point to slit down the inside of the magazine
binding. I remove the units/themes and file them.
I also remove and file any skill pages. If the
back of a page goes with another unit, then I have to
make a copy of that page to go with the unit. I
leave any pages in the magazine that I won't be using.
That way if I change my mind about using those
resources, they're still there where I left them.
Then I file the magazines on my magazine shelf in
sequential order by month and year. That way
everything is easier to find. If I can't put my
hands on something quickly, I'm more likely not to use
it. So making everything easily accessible is key
for me. I have wayyyy to much stuff to spend time
looking for things to use. And taking the
units/themes out of the magazines keeps me from wasting
all my time and copies copying stuff that I already have
just so that I can file it.
Supply Tubs: I purchased small tubs with handles for a
dollar at an outlet store. The tubs are small
enough for the students to carry, and have 3
compartments. In the long section I have crayons,
and in the other 2 sections I have scissors and glue.
These are community supply tubs. My students are
supposed to have their own supplies in their desk, but
as usual you have some that don't bring them. So
the community supply tubs are for those who need
supplies. They can easily just pick up the whole
tub and carry it to their seat or to the table that
they're working at. If they need just scissors or
a particular color crayon, they know to go to the supply
tubs and get what they need. They're also supposed
to return the supplies back to the tub when they're
finished. Each tub holds a lot of crayons, 3
bottles of glue, and at least 3 - 4 pairs of Fiskar
scissors. Occasionally I do have to have students
clean out their desks and return the supplies to the
If I have particular
students who can't seem to keep their own scissors and
glue in their desk without misusing them, I have them
place them in the supply tubs. Then when they need
them, they have to go get them. This keeps them
out of arms reach when they're not needed.
Pencil Can: I get tired of picking pencils,
crayons, and erasers up off the floor, because I have my
students clean up their "area" before leaving class each
day. So any pencils that I have to pick up goes
into our class pencil can, even if the pencil has their
name on it. When someone needs a pencil, they go
to the pencil can and get one. We have a ton of
pencils in there, but most have no erasers left on them.
So it teaches the students to take care of their
belongings. Stray crayons go into the supply tubs and
erasers in our class eraser cup.
Sharpening Pencils: I have a cup at my table that
students place their pencils in when they need
sharpening (their name is on their pencils). I
sharpen the pencils either before or after school each
day with my electric pencil sharpener and then I place
them back into the student's desk. I don't sharpen
pencils throughout the day and our classroom doesn't
have a student pencil sharpener. If the student
ends up without a sharpened pencil, they get one from
the Pencil Can. I try to make sure that each
student has at least 2 good pencils in their desk for
use (if their parents provided them with the requested
pencils at the beginning of the year).
Original Reproducibles: Always afraid that you're
handing out your original master to one of your
students? This tip will quell that fear. Use
a yellow highlighter to write "Original" across the top
of your original master. When you copy it, the
highlighter won't show up, but you'll be able to easily
identify your originals.
In-Coming and Out-Going Mail: I always have a
problem remembering to take things to the office or
other places when I leave my classroom on an errand.
So I came up with an idea to help get organized. I
bought a metal wreath hanger to hang on the BACK of my
classroom door. Then I purchased a cute basket
with a handle that is large enough to hold things that
are the size of a sheet of paper. The basket is
flat on the back and it hangs well on the wreath hook.
Now when I have something that needs to be delivered, I
write the name of the person/place it is going and I
drop it in the basket. When the TA or myself leave
the classroom on an errand, we check the basket to see
what else needs to be delivered as well.
For small items that
might not be seen in the basket, I tape them to the back
of the door or the door frame. Then we can't get
out the door without seeing it. This is a great
idea for helping you to remember to send bus passes with
your students at the end of the day. They can even
help you to remember by alerting you when they see
things taped to the door or frame.
When the TA brings
in in-coming mail, it's supposed to go in the basket as
well until I get to it. That saves it from getting
lost or not getting the appropriate attention it might
need. We're still working on this part. :)
Notes: I mentioned above about taping small notes
to the back of the door. Well, I've now had a
better idea! My door has a window with a metal
ring around it. I added a magnetic clip to the
metal strip and I clip all small notes and things to the
clip. That way we see them (hopefully) when we're
coming and going.
Submitted by Sandy:
My tip... I buy the larger than a shoe box size, clear
in color, Rubbermaid box and store my stuffed animals
for each unit. Aug. through Nov. have to
share, Christmas has it's own but Jan.-March share.
Easter has it's own also. I also have this size for all
my cookie cutters and cooking materials, rubber stamps
for alphabet, and other things that don't fit in the
shoe box size. For the shoe box size I keep my smaller
type number games, rhyming games, beginning sound games,
etc. that are the size of playing cards or bigger (but
still fit in the box). I also can keep a copy of the
original print out there just in case. :-) The original
is in a notebook for centers. I keep all my
manipulatives in the shoebox size too. It works well and
the kids can see through to see what's inside before
they take it.
Wal-Mart & Target have some cool drawer units that are
red, green and yellow. I have several of these put
around the room. I have 2 drawers for things to be filed
:-) and one of my kids said it's time for a new drawer,
don't you love them? (You are a big part of the reason
that drawer is so full!) Anyway, craft supplies go
in a couple of these drawers, scrap paper in another
couple and big stamp pads. I'm also going to keep
books/tapes for the listening center in a couple of
these drawers also.
Thanks again for all your sharing.
I e-mailed Sandy to
get clarification on her tubs for her stuffed animals.
The box size is about 3 shoeboxes high and longer and
wider. I wanted to know what she did with the
stuffed animals as well. She says that she
decorates with them, some go with books, and others she
uses as incentives for students who are sitting quietly
and listening. She also uses them to help calm her
I also use the clear
shoebox size boxes for storing smaller puzzle-type
activities. The ones that I have I got at Big Lots
for about $.77.
Sheets: When Sandy was writing about her drawers
that she has for filing it reminded me of a plastic cart
that I have with bins. In one of those bins I put
all my extra activity sheets and things that are left-overs,
but I don't want to save them. I actually have
students who like to go into that bin and find things to
do occasionally during "free time." One of the
rules in my class is that you are to NEVER just sit and
do nothing. I want them engaged in doing something
constructive at all times. So I provide all kinds
of activities that they can choose from. But the
one activity that they can not choose is to sit and do
nothing. They'll have to wait until they get home
to do that. :)
Submitted by Kelly:
For the soap dispenser, I buy the Pampered Chef pump
bottle and this way my kids just squirt foam out and I
don't end up having liquid soap strung all over the sink
Tool Box & Beauty
Supplies: For years now I've tried to have doubles
of things that I just couldn't do without in any given
day. One set is at my house, and the other set is
at my home-away-from-home ... my classroom. These
things are things like toothbrush/toothpaste, hairbrush,
make-up, hair clips, mirror, hair spray, sinus medicine,
Advil, deodorant, personal hygiene products, etc.
Some mornings I just may forget one step of my routine
and not realize it until I get to school. With the
extra set of stuff at school, I can rectify that
situation and not have to go through the day having bad
breath or a bad hair day! :)
Another set that I
have at school is my own little tool box. Thanks
to my husband, I have a small, plastic tool box
outfitted with whatever I might need. And mind
you, there's not a lot in it, because I don't need much!
:) But a Phillips screwdriver, a flat-head
screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a hammer, a few nails, a
small flashlight, etc. and I can handle the little
things. Plus, I won't be ruining a shoe or a pair
of scissors trying to use them as a hammer! :)
Storing or Packing Bulletin Board Materials or Charts:
If you have a large box, collapse it to where it's
flat. To do that, you'll have to cut off the bottom
flaps and then make it collapse diagonally. When you
have it flat, lay a strip of bulletin board paper so
that it makes a small fold over the bottom. Tape up the
bottom with duct tape ... over the bb paper and stuck to
the box as well. What the bulletin board paper does is
to keep your charts and things from sticking to the
tape. Cover the bottom and the paper with enough tape
so that it's reinforced and the charts won't break
through the paper and slide out. Now the charts should
slide right into the top of the collapsed box like
sliding them into and envelope.
I hope this makes sense. I know how to do this because
a LONG TIME AGO I ordered some charts from a company and
that's how they sent them to me. Many years later, I'm
still using that same box to hold LOTS of my charts and
bulletin board stuff. That box has moved with me at
least 3 times. Hopefully there won't be a 4th! :)
You can also use the
boxes posterboard or charts come in. They don't
hold nearly as much as the collapsed box that I
described above, but they are smaller and neater.
Another Packing Tip:
If you're having to pack up and move your classroom this
tip might help you if you're moving lots of resource
materials. The last two times I've moved, I've
used this system. I have LOTS of resource books.
I store them on shelves categorized by subject and
grade. When packing, I start at the upper left
corner and put those books in a box. Then I label
that Box 1. Then I fill the next box with the next
books. It is labeled Box 2. I continue until
I have all the books packed. Then when I get to my
new destination, instead of having to go through and
recategorize all those books again, I find Box 1.
Those books go back in the upper left hand corner.
Then Box 2 books are shelved. By doing this, they
go back on the shelves in the exact order they came off
them. It saves me lots of time and aggravation.
Also, you can pack
your materials up by zones in your classroom. Then
label the box with the appropriate zone. When
moving, place the boxes into the correct zone and then
they're where you need them to unpack them. For
instance, I might have Kitchen Zone, Teacher Zone (my
desk area), Reading Center, etc.
Who’s Turn Is
It?: A few years ago I read about
this idea on the ‘net and it works like a charm. You
know you’re always going to have at least one student in
your class who insists that they NEVER get a turn,
although you know they have. This little trick nips
that in the bud! Paint and/or decorate a soup can.
Write the name of each of your students on one end of a
craft stick with a Sharpie marker. Color the other end
(both sides) with a permanent marker. Put all the
sticks with the name side up in the can. When you need
to call on a student, simply pick one of the sticks out
of the can and call on the student who’s name is on the
stick. Then return the stick to the can, but put the
name side down, with the colored end up. By coloring
that end of the stick, it will save you time when
choosing a stick to pull out. You’ll know NOT to choose
a stick with the colored end up. No more whining! When
everyone’s had a turn, simply reverse all the sticks and
This idea was submitted (no name) and is very original.
I don't use cubbies, but it's a neat idea. Hmmm
.... actually I do use cubbies, but not for the
students. I use them to organize my hands-on
materials. I could even use this idea, because I
hate using self-stick labels because of the mess they
leave when you try to change them. Neat! Ok,
here's the idea ....
I bought the clips
(black with two hinges). I put one on each cubby.
I use name tag labels (self -stick) and write the
students name on them. Whenever a student withdraws
from class, I just remove it. When I get a new student
- I add a new label. Sorta expensive at first, but then
you never have to spend any money on cubby tags again!
emailed me for more information on this, so here's the
question and my answer.
please explain the clips used for cubbies, instead of
labels. I am a visual learner......I don't know what
kind of clips these are!
took me a little while to figure it out as well. The
clips that she used are those black metal clips (clamps)
with the two wire wing looking things on each side. You
fold the "wings" down once they're clipped on so that
they lay flat.
So you've got to visualize clipping the black clip onto
the actual bottom of the cubby (the wood or metal).
Then visualize sticking a label on the flat part of the
clip that is facing out. The label has the child's name
on it. Then at the end of the year, you remove the
label and add a new one for the next school year.
The perfectionist in me knows this information by heart.
A standard sized pocketchart has 10 rows and each row is
4 inches a part. I know this from doing so many
pocketchart activities. :) And when making these
activities, I try to keep them within 10 rows or less
and 4 inches tall (or smaller). I don't like
having to use two pocketcharts or having things overlap
from one row to the next. I just thought I'd put
this info here in case anyone's ever at home making
pocketchart activities and needed it. :)
Submitted by Lisa:
I have an idea that Teachers Mailbox printed that you
may want to share. At the end of the year when you have
to pack up your room for the summer, as most teachers
do. Label one box "Back to school." In this box, place
your "must haves" for the first day of school. Such as
your calendar wall items, alphabet, helper chart,
nametags, deskplates, etc. When you unpack in August
you can start with that box to get well underway with
"redoing" your room.
Submitted by Karen:
I always love visiting
your site and the great ideas and suggestions you have!
I wanted to share an idea as well! I love to decorate
and watch HGTV whenever I have free time. One day
"Decorating Cents" was doing a child's bedroom that had
a great idea for storage. I am a K teacher and made
these items with a glue gun and velcro. You get the
storage tubs at Home Depot or Lowes. I will attach the
photo for you to see. I use them to store those small
stuffed animals (TY?).
I emailed Karen back
and asked her for directions on making the "tuffets" as
she calls them. Aren't they precious? Here's
I call them "tuffets"
for lack of a better idea. You buy the 5 gallon
buckets and lids from Home Depot or Lowes (these are
the 5 gallon buckets). I measured from the top of the
bucket to the edge and added an inch. Take 45 inch
fabric and along the selvage, tear the edge to make a
straight edge. Then take the measurement of the bucket
and snip (I think it was around 15 inches). Tear.
Snip 15 inches again, Tear fabric. Now you have 2 -
45" widths of fabrics for gathering the skirt that are
15 inches long (remember to measure to make sure about
that! Sew the 2 widths together at the finished
selvages (seam the 15" edges together to make one long
length of fabric. Next serge the raw edge (the one you
tore) with a serger to keep it from raveling (or just
turn under and sew). Do the same thing to the other
Now you can
continue making these with one of two ways:
use a zig-zag
stitch over un-waxed dental floss along the 90"
length. Attach sticky velcro (soft side) to the top
of the bucket (It will fit exactly in one of the top
grooves of the bucket. Take the bristly side of the
velcro and attach the sticky side to the fabric. You
can buy the velcro that gathers and sew it on but this
use a glue gun and
glue skirt to edge of bucket. You can do this without
the sewing listed above and also without the velcro.
This is the way I did it. As I glued the skirt I
hand-gathered it. I rotated the bucket until both
sides of the skirt met and overlapped about an inch.
You don't have to worry about hemming the edges that
For the lid, I
purchased batting that was in a roll. Trace around
the lid and cut two or three layers of batting. Hot
glue to the lid. Trace around the lid and add enough
fabric (3-5 inches )all around the outline of the lid.
This will give you enough fabric to wrap around the
lid to cover the batting. Place fabric wrong side
up, next lay the lid with batting attached and wrap
the fabric to the wrong side, hot gluing as you go.
After lid is
finished place on top of the bucket. I then used the
glue gun to attach rick rack to the edge to give it a
nice finish. You could use any trim you like (like
ribbon, etc.) but the rick-rac attaches nicely with
the glue gun.
Oh yeah, I forgot,
they are round and they are all OVER home depot. They
even place them at the entrance to use as a "shopping"
bucket. They are ORANGE in color and the total cost of
the bucket and lid is less than 6 dollars in the metro
Karen, thanks for
submitting this idea. It's too cute! :)
Submitted by Krista:
I use a telephone message book, with duplicate pages to
convey messages to parents. This way I have a copy
of what was sent home as well.
Submitted by Joan: I
am also a special ed teacher (4-6th grade)
multi-handicapped kids. I thought I would share this
organizational system with you. Since lining up the
kids can be a problem (even with only 8)! I came up with
this idea. Every week, each student has a classroom job
to do. I numbered these jobs 1-8. I put the numbers
(1-8) on the floor where the kids line up by the door.
They line up according to their job number. This rotates
every week. I put the number on a shape (last year-smile
faces, or stars, apples, whatever theme you like) and
use clear contact to place them on the floor. It has
worked very well for several years now.
This idea will work for letters, numbers or anything
matching. Buy two coordinating notepads, one large/one
small. (a large bear and a small bear) Put a capital
letter on the large bears and a lowercase letter on the
small bears or a number on the small bears and dots to
match the numbers on the large bears. Laminate. Your
Center activity is done.
Dots: A new
pencil and a stamp pad makes perfect round dots. Use the
eraser end for the "stamp".
Time Saver Tip: Have
you ever been found running around your classroom like a
chicken with it's head cutoff (isn't that just a sick
saying .. :(~ ) looking for your grade book so that you
can escort your class safely and quickly outside for a
fire drill? Well, no more. I came up with
this idea and it will eliminate that problem.
I typed up my class
roster and taped it on the back of the door that we
exit. Now when we have these drills, I just rip it
off as I'm going out the door. No more searching.
Then when we come back inside, I immediately retape it
to the door. It hangs there all year. Then
the next year, I just replace it with the new one.
I don't even take it down at the end of the year so that
it will remind me to replace the old one with the new.
Susan - KK Teacher,
submitted her idea for this problem as well:
When we have a fire alarm we are supposed to take our
roll book with us so we can call roll and make sure
everyone got out ok. I am so unorganized I would never
find it in time. I made a list of my class and I put
it in the pouch of my ID badge. (I bought it at Office
Max) It is always around my neck when I am at school.
I have even used it to make sure I have all the kids at
the end of recess.
Another Time Saver
saw where someone (perhaps it was you) has their class
list posted on their door so that it can quickly be
removed as you head out the door. This year, I am at a
new school and we are using a clear plastic sleeve.
Inside, there is a solid red paper and a solid green
paper along with two copies of a current class list. We
receive a new list each time someone moves in or out of
the room. During the fire drill, we do our count as
usual and then depending on whether everyone is present,
hold up the green or the red side (class lists are
tucked in between, of course). This quickly allows the
principal or office staff to determine if someone is
missing. submitted by: Krista (1st)
Here's a couple ideas I use in my home daycare to help
the chaos and mess.
1. I use painter's tape (the green kind you use to
cover where you don't want to paint) to attach posters
and art work to the walls. It sticks great and leaves
the paint in tact.
2. I use stackable plastic lawn chairs for children for
my tables. If a child is one, 3 stacked to together
works perfectly for them to reach my table. It pretty
much takes one chair off per year so that by the time
they are 3, they only have one chair to fit. I make it
a birthday ritual for them.
3. I use a rural mail box for each family to put in
anything that needs to go home. When the flag is up, it
means there is a newsletter or toy or something to take
4. I used the top of a portable sun canopy to cover my
sand box. The kind you put together with white metal
tubes and has open sides and a tent-like top. It fits
perfectly and the tent parts allows me the luxury of not
having to put all the sand toys away every night...they
fit underneath until the next day's play. All that AND
keeps my cat out !
5. I use the stackable office holders [the size of a
piece of paper, often used as an 'in box' and 'out box']
as a puzzle shelf. I can keep 4 or 5 puzzles on it and
remove all of them from the table and put them up when
6. I use a microwave cart [without the hutch] on wheels
as my open craft shelf. Not only does it hold the
materials I need [btw, I use a small plastic shelf unit
inside it with markers in one drawer, crayons in one,
stickers in one, scissors in one, etc so they can take
the entire little shelf to the table and slide it back
in when they are done] but it fits under a regular
height of counter [assuming there is a space there] and
can be turned around if the craft shelf is 'closed' and
I have a felt board stuck to the back.
ABC & Number Lines:
Place stick on desk ABC line onto a sentence strip and a
number lines on the back of the strip. Laminate.
These are very portable and handy to have. I made
several. Good to use in the pocketchart or
students can use them where ever needed.
Submitted by Rhonda:
I store bulletin board sets, posters, holiday
decorations, etc. in a zippered vinyl suit bag. The
last time I purchased one I accidentally bought a dress
bag. I like it, too, because it is longer and can hold
taller charts. It's easy to hang in my closet and easy
to get in to since it zips.
I use a wooden hanger inside, then I just put the things I want to
store inside the vinyl zippered pouch (the items inside
the bag don't hang). The last two bags I've bought I
got at the dollar store. I have a hook inside my closet
that I hang them on. I can either take the whole bag
out to go through it when I need something, or just
unzip the bag and take out what I want. I've used this
for storage the last few years.
Submitted by Jaci:
At the beginning
of each school year I type a class list and copy it
many times. Students names on the left side of the
paper of course. Some lists are done on a chart
others are not. When I send home permission slips
that need to be returned, or when I am working on a
project one on one and need to remember who I worked
with, I pull out a class list and check off the
names. For whatever reason, this idea has helped to
keep me on track for a long time.
Here's one more:
anecdotal notes about children, this is what I do to
keep it organized. This is an oldie....tape index
cards on a clip board programmed with each child's
name on the bottom of the card. Tape them in a flip
book manner., bottom to top, exposing the bottom 1/4"
of the card with the child's name ....when I need to
write a quick note about a child, or record a phone
call/conversations with that child's parent, I flip up
the card and record the date and write what I need to
remember. Prior to conferences, I refer to the clip
board. The top card has my name on it to protect the
notes on the next card.
more. so simple....
Line your paint
cups with a cheap baggie...not the zip loc
style. (Thanks to one of my co-teachers!) Clean up is
If we all had a quarter for every student headband/hat
that we'd made .. boy could we go shopping!!!
Here's a tip I just read about somewhere this week:
Instead of overlapping the construction paper strip
and stapling it around their head, take a rubberband
and slip one end of the strip through it and staple.
Then slip the other end of the strip through the other
side of the rubberband and staple. What this is
doing is giving the strip some "ease" so that they can
take it off and on without tearing it up.
Picture a strip around the head that's been cut too
short and has a rubberband to extend the strip.
Offices: When we
do activities where I want to know exactly what they
know, not what they know and can also glean from their
friend's paper, we all use an office. An office is
simply two file folders opened and stapled together
overlapping a little to form a U (except there is no
curve). You just stand them up on their side and they
form a sort of divider. The kids put their paper
inside the U and no one can see their paper and they
can't see anyone else's paper.
Cleaning up in the
afternoon: I've got a new procedure in place.
Since I do most of my instruction at a horseshoe
table, I don't leave at the end of the day until it is
in good enough shape for me to be able to sit down at
it the next morning and start teaching. It may not be
totally clean, but it's at least in satisfactory
New Motto: Another thing I've started doing is ... Do
it now! I'm so bad about putting things to the side to
do later, and they get piled up. My new motto is do it
now. I receive e-mails from Flylady.net and they're a
whiz at helping you stay on track to getting more
(submitted) I've found a great way to organize all
those bits of paper I was inundated with each day.
When handing out
notes / sheets there are usually leftovers. I bought
some of the trays that offices use as in / out trays
and separated them so that each is independent of the
other. One I've labeled Spare Notes and the other is
for Spare Sheets. When the classroom helpers are
finished handing out notes or worksheets they put them
in the designated box. That way if a student has been
absent or lost a note, the spares are easy to find.
The spare sheets come in handy for any student who
wasn't present at the time the work was handed out.
They can also be used as a free time activity and can
come in handy if we have "split class" when a teacher
is away and their class hasn't been covered. At the
end of the week, I empty the spare sheets tray into
the scrap paper box for drawing on the back.
As for the
return of notes to school, I usually ended up with a
pile of papers falling out of my hands each morning
with permission slips, absence notes, late notes etc.
I bought two plastic baskets from K-Mart and put a
label on the front of each. One has "Absence Notes"
and a picture of a child sick in bed on it, and the
other "Permission Notes" with a picture of a school
bus on it. As the students enter the classroom in the
morning they place the notes in the appropriate trays.
Then when I am marking the roll, I can take the
absence note basket and mark their absences
accordingly. It also makes a great place to store any
late notes that come in after I've sent the roll to
the office. The same process is used for filling out
info in the class money folder. I can just pick up
the basket and carry it with me to my desk or staff
room without fear of dropping any one's money.
These two tips were submitted by April:
Read the Room
Pointers: Use objects created for car antennas on the
end of dowel rods.
Storage: I don't
have a "real" classroom. Instead my room is two small
resource rooms/office with the partition taken out.
Therefore, I have no cubbies for my kiddos; and they
sit at tables - so they have nowhere to store their
things. To solve this problem I purchased medium
sized storage baskets (the plastic ones with little
holes in them - Sterilite brand) from Wal-mart and
Target. I also bought 14 inch zip/cable ties. I
looped a zip tie through the 2 holes at the top at the
corner and then around the leg of the chair. I
did this for each corner of the basket/and all four
legs of the chair. Now my students have a place
to put all of there things such as crayons, pencils,
Alternative to Expensive Pocketchart Stands: I've heard for
years about using garment racks from Wal-Mart for
pocketchart stands. Well I finally broke down in
the last few months and actually took the time to
check them out. I ended up buying two of them
and I plan to buy more. They are GREAT! I
LOVE pocketcharts and I had 5 stands plus pocketcharts
hanging on the walls. The reasons they are so
great is this ... they are on wheels and they are so
light weight. You can just give them a little
push and they'll go skittering across the floor (no
carpeting). This makes it soooooo easy for my
students to move them around when they're in the way.
The old stands without the wheels were so bulky my
little ones had a time moving them and I usually ended
up doing it. I hang the pocketcharts from the
top using wire shower hooks. There's even a
place across the bottom of the stand that you could
use to store things if you wanted. Oh, and as
far as stands go, they're a great price .. $13.95.
The one drawback might be that they're 6 ft. tall.
That puts the top half of the chart up high and if
you're using the charts for the students to interact
you might have a problem. A plus is that it puts
the charts up higher for easier view by a group.
And since they are so tall, you can buy the
tri-colored pocketchart from Lakeshore and it will
hold a lot more sentence strips than the usual 10
strips. This part I really like!
I teach preschool. We have pencils, markers, and
crayons in every center in my class...I have found the
best way to have these out for the children and to
keep it more organized is with egg cartons...not the
foam kind but the cardboard type. Flip the carton
upside down and poke holes in the bottom...they will
hold 12 pencils, crayons or markers and can be set out
around the room...these are also great for storing
scissors with the pointed in inside the carton and the
handle up where you can get them. Best of all they are
practically free...because you can collect them from
parents or from your own consumption and they are
easily replaced. The children can put away supplies in
an orderly fashion that will be ready for use the next
Straight Desks: I
teach 2nd graders and I have had the worst time
keeping their desks in place. I bought a package
of 100 cable ties at Harbor Freight tools for $4.
The releasable kind offer more flexibility. I
used them to tie the desks to each other. Now
they stay straight. This is not exactly the best
thing for teachers who are moving their students
around a bunch. Make sure to buy the releasable
kind. Amanda from Texas
For those posters and classroom decorations that are
intended to stay up all year (for example,'manners' or
character building posters, classroom rules, etc.) I
purchase 3M brand 'Command' strips. These sticky
strips are guaranteed to hold your posters and charts
until you decide to take them down (I've been in the
same classroom for the past few years and my posters
are still where I put them 3 years ago!)
They are kind of pricey, but they do not damage the
walls or the paint and they REALLY hold. You can get
various sizes to hold from 1/2 lb up to 10 lbs. The
various hooks sold in the 'Command' line up are also
great for holding clipboards, brooms and even my coat
(I don't have a closet). I usually purchase the
'Command' strips and hooks at Walmart for under $4.
Submitted by Amy
*I just happen to
see some of these in WalMart the other day when I was
there and they are just what I've been needing to hang
my new apple clock on. I purchased it last
school year but it wouldn't fit on any of the hooks in
my classroom, so it's just been leaning up in the
corner of my cabinet. The Command hooks that I
bought have a little wire hook at the bottom that will
be perfect to hang my clock. I can't wait now to
go to school ... weeellll, I guess I can wait! :) PS -
the hook worked great! even if I did hang it a
little crooked :)
Clean Lamination: Need to remove permanent marker from
something you've laminated? Try Mr. Clean Magic
Eraser! The person who submitted this tip says
it works better than nail polish remover and that the
Targer and WalMart brands work just as well.
Removing Permanent Marker: Sue submitted the tip that
dry erase markers will take permanent marker off most
smooth surfaces. Simply write or color over the
permanent marker and then erase with a cloth or
More tips about Permanent Marker: Sara submitted the
tip to use Static Guard to clean permanent marker from
both lamination and desktops. She says you have
to work quickly though as it dries fast.
If you'd like to
submit ideas for this page, e-mail me.