Some Quick Organizational Picture Tips

This week, I thought I would share a few quick tips that have helped me keep organized in the classroom over the years!  And sometimes, pictures are the best, quickest way to communicate!  I hope that they are useful to you!  Here are a few quick pictures of some things I do in my room to stay organized.

One thing that helps me keep organized is any clipping paper masters that I often need for lessons inside the teacher's manuals that we use, and keeping those masters in page protectors.

I mark the correct page to begin on for each group with a colored post-it note.  Those same sticky notes often last me a whole year!

I recently found some colored clips that serve the same purpose.  They work just as well, of course!

I try to always save the large zippered bags that new bedspreads and other blankets come in so that I can store picnic blankets in them in my classroom!  I like to take the kids outside and read a book on the grass when it's a nice day outside!  Plus, it's nice to have something to sit on if there is an outside school event.

I love having plastic drawers that are labeled with the things that I use a lot.  I have a box for our "All About Me" person of the week, another for birthday crowns, special birthday pencils and notes that go home on that special day, and another for the Scholastic Book Club (so that there is somewhere to put all of those catalogs that arrive continuously!)  I have another bin for first aid supplies, and another for calendar supplies.

I have another drawer for notes for new students that may come in the middle of the year, so if there is ever a note that would be important for a parent to know all year from that point forward, then I put it there.  I place extra copies of everything that goes home on the first day of school here as well, so that if we get a new student, I have extra copies of everything that child will need.

I keep about two extra copies of the weekly homework in one of these bins as well.  If a parent comes in at any time and asks for a copy of the homework from any given week, I can almost always provide an instant copy.  In the calendar bin, each month has its own manilla envelope for supplies, so that when it is time to change the calendar, it is quick and easy to find everything that I need.
At the end of the school year, I clear out the drawers and send home the extra worksheets that have collected in the bins so that kids can practice on them over the summer.

Another thing that I do is take roll and the lunch count at the same time, and I write it on a dry erase sleeve.  Then I take it to the computer and enter the attendance into it while the kids sing along with a DVD or play the Quiet Game. Here's a video from one of our new Animated Sight Word DVDs!

Several years ago I started keeping the files and worksheets that I use the most for homework in binders in page protectors, and I would NEVER go back to shoving everything into a file folder again!  Sure, it was a pain in the neck getting them into binders, but now I can ALWAYS find exactly what I want.  Things don't get lost.  And I am slowly but surely converting everything to digital copies as much as possible, and storing them on my computer instead.  That way, all I have to do is find the item that I want to do and print it.

I also find it extremely simple to keep a small stack of post-it notes in the pocket of the binder, and each time I take out a worksheet to copy, I mark it with the date before I put it away.  I can also tell which things I am storing and NEVER using, too!  Those are good things to get rid of!

I LOVE keeping an old printer/copier/scanner in my room!  It's not even connected to my computer because it is so old that the software is incompatible, but I don't care!  I just use it as a xerox machine when I need a quick copy of something.  It is SO handy- you wouldn't believe how many teacher visitors I have during the day when they find they have to have a copy of something QUICK!  I also love being able to give a kid an instant new copy when they "accidentally" mess something up that they have been trying to avoid doing.  It's also handy for making copies of contracts that I sometimes need to send home with children.

Another great thing to do is to have everyone in the class bring a sports top water bottle to school to keep there.  With the help of volunteers, I keep them filled up.  Each color group has a colored basket where their bottles are kept, and these baskets are spread around the room.  So when the children all need a drink of water, we don't have to wait for five or ten minutes for them all to stand in line at the water fountain; I just send them to their water bottles and let them all get a drink at the same time!  As long as the baskets are in four different corners of the room, and then the children can all spread out to get their drinks, and each take a nice long drink for a minute or two.  Then they put it back in the basket and come on back.  If it is empty, it goes into a special white tub that has been designated for that purpose.

When it is time to come back from getting a drink, I either play a song or start counting backwards from 10.  When I get to zero, or when the song ends, then everyone has to be back with me in the large group.  As long as I am consistent with my consequences, then they all come right back when I tell them to.  If I start making exceptions, then nobody listens and nobody cares if I said that the time is up.  That's just the way it is!

The Yellow Group's basket had very few distractions next to it, so they lucked out!

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Beadboard said…
Very helpful! I love your practical ideas. Keep up the gret work, Heidi!
Julie Reid said…
Great classroom ideas. The waterbottle baskets are now on my to do list. Thanks for sharing.
Mrs. B. said…
I really like the group baskets for water bottles. I may have to try that this year. It will certainly speed up key drink times like after recess or P.E.
JessatSFA said…
These are great ideas! I especially love the bin and water bottle ideasand can't wait to use them next year. We don't want to miss out on that precious instructional time! :) Thanks for sharing!
Catherine said…
Hi Heidi,
It was great seeing you again at the Teacher/Bloger meet up last Tuesday! I L.O.V.E.D. this post and especially the idea about using a colored bin for water bottles! This will be very helpful for next year as I've been struggling with kids playing with their water bottles (which are usually kept at their seats). Perfect idea! You're the bomb! Thanks so much for all you do!
Catherine from Vegas :)
Karen said…
I loved your workshops. The conference was fantastic- I'm still a bit on information overload.
Love the water bottle idea. I'll have to try that. I especially like that they are all in designated spots. I've had kids carry them around before, but that's always a disaster in the making.
Natalie Kay said…
Heidi! It was so good to meet you!! I have some great pictures of you - I posted them on the What the Teacher Wants facebook page. Come by and grab them.
Megan said…

I was at the "I Teach K!" Conference and I came to your presentation about reaching at-risk kindergartners. I am a huge fan of yours, and I just loved your presentation- it was full of so many helpful ideas! That Good Choices book would definitely have come in handy for one of my kiddos last year.

I am so excited to be using all of your Sight Word DVDs/CDs this year when teaching my children the sight words. My principal was so nice to purchase them all for me and I can't wait to use them. I also just purchased a few more of your products on your website!

I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed seeing you in person and love your products!

beth said…
I really like the idea of putting a note on pages that have been used for homework. It is embarrassing when someone points out that this page has been in the homework already! LOL. I am going to put up our picture in my classroom! My students always love you and are constantly asking if you are real! Thanks for the wonderful sessions at the conference! I can't wait to use the new ideas in my classroom.
Heidi Butkus said…
Thank you so much, Megan! I'm so glad that you enjoyed the presentation and learned from it, too!
Thanks for letting me know! I do enjoy hearing from people like you.
Rachelle said…
Love your stuff, Heidi!!!!

Thank you SO much for all of the fabulous things you donated to the blogger/teacher meet-up! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!

Heidi Butkus said…
To Rachelle,
The pleasure was all mine! I loved seeing how excited everyone was to get their things!
Tonya said…
Your water bottle idea is a great one and one I will certainly put to use this year. I too enjoy your blog and all you share with us. Love, love, love your music CD's.
Thanks Heidi!
Cher Harrison said…
Wow! My picture made it on your blog! I'm famous! ;). Again, I was so super duper thrilled to finally meet you and attend your sessions.

I was browsing your pinterest and was glad to see so many of the science activities you mentioned. I actually found a butterfly clubhouse? Or whatever it was called in my classroom closet today. I might try ordering some.

I am still trying to recover from the Vegas trip. I am still SO tired! I hardly slept during the conference period and now I am pulling long days in the new school, grade and classroom trying to get that set up... your ideas in this blog post seem so practical and I can't wait to try them out! :). I really like the post-it idea because though I keep notes on what I did when, I hate to have to dig through the notes to find out if I've already done something.

Thanks for the goodies!
Cher :)
Heidi Butkus said…
Hey, Cher!
Glad you liked the picture of you and me! It was great meeting you in person in Las Vegas, and I hope you have a WONDERFUL school year!
Don't work too hard!
Kim Ricketts said…
I love all these great ideas!!! I am going to add sticky notes on worksheets so I can see what I am just holding onto!

Hi Heidi..this is Nice! It's really very informative article, Keep up the great work, Heidi!

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