Organizing Materials for Easy Lesson Planning



Here are my best tips to help you get your classroom materials organized in a way that makes sense, makes things easy to find, and helps you get your lesson plans done quickly and easily! The basic idea is simply to organize your language arts and math materials by skill so that any time you want to teach a particular concept, you simply go to that folder, binder, or box and choose from what you have, and start writing! If this sounds like something that would work for you, read on! Hope it’s helpful!




Other seasonal materials that are always used at a certain time of year are filed and organized chronologically, by month or holiday, etc, which is what I do with my social studies materials. Science is filed away separately by topic. I do this with both physical and digital materials, using lots of folders on my computer to keep things organized. At the end of this post, you can read about how I organize some of my HeidiSongs materials specifically if you are interested.

Here is the question that prompted this blog post: "Heidi I love your classroom worksheets and videos so much! It works great with the kids and they love it! Win Win! Thank you! I would like to start next year off with all your videos and worksheets. I plan to do it over summer break so I can be familiar with it before the first day of school. Can you tell me what you recommend? Even if all you have is a list of file folder tabs to drop files as I print so next time I will already. Looking for a teacher friendly way to organize your worksheets that go along with all your videos. Your teaching style rocks!"

My response:  Hi!  Gosh, what a good question, and THANK YOU for all of the nice things you said!  I'll see if I can explain what I do, although I'm really not sure if this is better than anyone else's system!  Keep in mind that I know which songs are on which CD's by heart… and that makes me different from other HeidiSongs users!  But I will try to make "a work-around" it so that this will work for you or anyone else.




General Recommendations for Classroom Organization

* LABEL DVD’S (or other media) BY SKILL: If you have trouble remembering which DVD teaches what skill, then I suggest putting a sticker on the front that will remind you. For example, my “Word Families Songs” DVD is for teaching CVC Words. If that’s hard to remember in the rush of the classroom activity, then label it!

* STORE CD/DVD’S NEAR THE PLAYER: All of my HeidiSongs DVD’s went into a plastic storage box that was near my computer. I now have all of my CD’s loaded onto iTunes and made into playlists, and I use an iPod and a dock in my classroom. But when I used a CD player, the CD’s were in a plastic box that served as a little table for my CD player.

* DIGITAL COPIES ARE FILED BY SKILL: If a product is offered in printed form and digitally and you have them both, then just keep the digital files on your computer and file them in a master folder by SKILL. Example: I have digital folders for “Sight Words,” “Rhyme,” and “Addition.” Inside that folder goes all of my materials for that skill fully labeled. Example, “Sight Wd Wkbk Sp.1.” (That is my shorthand for Sight Word Workbook, Sing and Spell Vol. 1.) I keep all my other sight word worksheets in that master folder as well.

* ALL DIGITAL FILES ARE BACKED UP AT HOME. If the school computer gets corrupted, broken, or replaced with a new “clean one,” etc, I could lose all of my digital files, so a master of everything must stay at home. It’s less trouble than trying to go back to all of the places where I purchased files to download them again.

* DIGITAL FILES USED OFTEN ARE ALSO KEPT ON MY COMPUTER AT SCHOOL. That way if a child spoils a copy, I can quickly print another. Also, we knew that at my school, getting a new child was always a possibility, so I liked having the back-up plan of being able to print out another copy of first day materials if needed.

* PRINTED COPIES GO IN BINDERS LABELED BY SKILL (or by the name of the WORKBOOK) IN PAGE PROTECTORS: If I only have a digital copy of a product, and I want to have printed copies on hand to remind me of what I’ve got, then I print everything out and put them in page protectors which go in a binder. I choose binders that have clear pockets on the covers and spine so that I can print out the covers of those workbooks or products and a label for the spine on cardstock. That way I can slide the label easily into the spine, usually using a ruler or something to push it down in there. (It won’t slide down into the spine unless it’s printed on cardstock.)  Of course, I also have lots of miscellaneous worksheets and activities that I have collected and printed from all over the place (not HeidiSongs stuff) and I keep those in binders, too, if I really like them.  Often I keep completed samples tucked into the page protectors as well.  But no matter what, they are sorted and labeled by skill so I can find them and use them for planning easily.




* TO HELP ME REMEMBER WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY USED THAT YEAR: To help me remember which worksheets I’ve used, I put a little sticky note on it with a date on it on the worksheet in my binder. That reminds me NOT to use it again that same year, neither for homework nor in class! (I have a TERRIBLE short term memory, so I have to keep reminders like this handy. If there's not a song about it, I just FORGET, LOL!) When I am at home and I print out homework from there, I have a little spiral notebook, and I make a note of which worksheet I sent home on which date.






* THE BINDERS THAT I USE THE MOST ARE STORED IN MY FILING CABINET: This is very handy for me! Love it! It makes it so much easier to have an aide or volunteer be able to grab what we might need for a center or for homework.  Once they know where the filing cabinet is, then I can describe what worksheet we might need so they can grab it, or if they need something for a center, they know right where to go and get it!




* KEEP GAMES AND CENTERS IN BOXES LABELED BY SKILL: This makes lesson planning a snap! If you know your class needs to work on a skill like rhyme or CVC words, then all you need to do is go to where you store those items and look to see what you already have prepared. I’m always finding things that I had forgotten about. On the other hand, if there are things in there that I haven’t used for YEARS, it’s time to get rid of them.




* KEEP A PACING GUIDE HANDY: I keep a copy of my Pacing Guide printed out and pinned to the bulletin board above my desk for easy reference. Click here for a copy of my Kindergarten Pacing Guide. So far, I do not have any other grade level planned out, but I am hoping to get other grade levels done eventually.



* MAKE A LONG TERM PLAN FOR YOUR SCHOOL YEAR: I used to plan out the dates for every single important thing ahead of time, such as field trips, holidays, major units of study or themes, benchmark testing dates, minimum days, parent conference dates, class plays, etc. If this is your first year in the grade level, try to get together with an experienced teammate and see if that person can help you figure it out! Our team in Kindergarten was SO organized that we also called and made reservations for field trips and scheduled our school busses before school even started to make sure we got the dates we preferred. We rotated these responsibilities around so that it wasn’t the same person doing them every single year, too.




Here is a calendar I used to plan out our crafts for each day. I also knew that if we were doing the horse craft on Sept. 26, that we would also be reading horse themed books that day, both fiction and non-fiction. This calendar also had school holidays, assemblies, and other special events on it. The red check mark in the corner indicated that the craft was prepped and ready to go.


How to Organize Specific HeidiSongs Materials for the School Year

1. Organizing Sing and Spell the Sight Word Products
Download a master list of which word songs are on which CD/DVD in alphabetical order here.  Now you will always know which volume you need to go to when you are teaching a certain spelling word.  You'll also know if we do not have that word recorded, or what to add to a wish list if you don't own that product.

Worksheets

NOTE: There is no WAY we do ALL of these worksheets in one year! I created them so that people could pick and choose the best ones for their students, and have plenty for homework, etc.

Hidden Sight Words Worksheets:

Printed: I keep all of mine printed, alphabetized, (no matter which CD they came from, they all go in ABC order) and in page protectors in a binder.




Sight Words Workbooks Worksheets:

I have printed copies of these workbooks, so there is no reason to put them in binders. But I still put sticky notes on the sheets we have already done. If I did print them out, there would be so many that I think that each volume would need it’s own binder, because each word has three or four different “levels” of worksheets, plus a Mini Sing-Along Songbook to go with it.




Cloze Activity Sight Word Worksheets:

Printed: I keep all of mine printed, alphabetized, (no matter which CD they came from, they all go in ABC order) and in a FOLDER in my filing cabinet because I only need to get into the file once a year. When I last taught Kindergarten, my district was nice enough to print them out and bind them into booklets for the kids to use all year! How NICE!




Sight Word Puzzles, Velcro Books, etc.:

I printed these out and made most of them on summer or winter breaks. They go in plastic boxes that are marked with a label for what they are, including the volume. I keep the digital copies on my computer at home filed under Sight Words, because that way I can keep it all backed up.






Digital: I have a master folder called Sight Words.  Inside that folder, there are many folders, and one of them is Hidden Sight Words, another is Sight Word Workbooks, etc.  Each volume has its own folder inside that main folder.  I do keep these on my computer at school because that way if a child spoils a copy, I can quickly print another.  Copies are also kept at home.


2. Organizing the CVC Materials
NOTE: There is no WAY we do ALL of these worksheets in one year! I created them so that people could pick and choose the best ones for their students, and have plenty for homework, etc.




Hidden CVC Words Worksheets:

Printed: I keep all of mine printed, alphabetized, (no matter which volume they came from, organized by WORD FAMILY) and in page protectors in a binder.



We have Hidden CVC Words for our CVC Books Volume 1 and 2!


CVC Words Workbooks Worksheets:

Since HeidiSongs started out offering these worksheets only digitally, I already have them all printed out and tucked into page protectors, so that’s what I use. They are organized by word family, in the order that my district’s reading series teaches them. When I found another great CVC resource, I also tucked it into a page protector and put it into the same binder right there with the HeidiSongs ones, so they are all in the same place.




CVC Pockets, CVC Puzzles, etc.

I already have all of these things put together and laminated. I keep them in plastic boxes and labeled. I try to keep everything in boxes together by skill, and I keep the word families in order by use. The digital copies of these are kept on my computer at home.




Digital: I have a master folder called CVC Words. Inside that folder, there are many folders, and one of them is Hidden CVC Words, another is CVC Workbooks, etc.. Each volume has its own folder inside that main folder. I do keep these on my computer at school because that way if a child spoils a copy, I can quickly print another.


3. Organizing the Number Recognition Materials




Hidden Number Worksheets:

Printed: I keep all of mine printed and in numerical order and in page protectors in a binder. (There is plenty of room in there for lots of number recognition worksheets from other sources as well.)




Counting Creature Workbooks:

Printed: I keep all of mine printed and in the same order as they are in the workbooks, which is organized by number and type of worksheet.



Matching Sets Worksheets:

These go into a Matching Sets Binder, organized by difficulty.  The easiest ones come first, and the hardest ones go last.




Digital: I have a master folder called Number Recognition. Inside that folder, there are many folders, and one of them is Hidden Numbers, another is Counting Creature Worksheets, etc. Each volume has its own folder inside that folder. I do keep these on my computer at school because that way if a child spoils a copy, I can quickly print another. Back-up copies are all kept at home as well.


4. Organizing Addition and Subtraction Materials

NOTE: There is no WAY we do ALL of these worksheets in one year! I created them so that people could pick and choose the best ones for their students, and have plenty for homework, etc.




Counting Creatures Addition Workbook:

This set does not come printed, so I had to put it into its own separate binder in page protectors! The book is organized from easiest sums to hardest, so I keep it that way.




Counting Creatures Subtraction Worksheets:

This set does not come printed either, so it also goes in its own separate binder in the same order it came in- easiest to hardest.




Addition and Subtraction Packets: Shark Teeth Addition and Shark Teeth Subtraction, Butterfly and Ladybug Addition, Spring Addition and Subtraction, Loose Tooth Subtraction, etc.:

Everything is sorted by skill. I have one large binder for addition, and another for subtraction. Since I have lots of different packets for both addition and subtraction, they are just filed into these binders, along with lots of various other resources I have collected from all over the place.




Digital: I have a master folder called Addition and one called Subtraction. Inside that folder, there are many folders, including the names of the items listed above. Each volume has its own folder inside that folder. I do keep these on my computer at school because that way if a child spoils a copy, I can quickly print another.


5. Organizing Shape Recognition Materials

Shape Creatures Worksheets:

This set does not come printed, so I had to print it out and put it in a binder as well. I organized it just the same way it comes- by shape. I have another binder that has all of my other various shape worksheets in it.




Pattern Blocks Dinos and Robots:

This set does not come printed, so I had to print it out and put it in a binder as well. I also keep some finished samples in here as well of examples with paper pattern blocks on them glued down. Hint: Kids LOVE to put these together and decorate them!




Digital: I have a master folder called Shapes. Inside that folder, there are many folders, including the names of the items listed above. I do keep these on my computer at school because that way if a child spoils a copy, I can quickly print another.


6. Organizing Classroom Management Materials

Classroom Management Poster Set:

I print this out and laminate it. Most of these go on my wall and stay there, so I don’t have to worry about storing them. But those that do come down stay in a file with my “September” room decorations, because that’s when I use them the most!




Ways to Solve Disagreements Poster Set:

I have these printed out and laminated. They stay on my wall most of the year as a reminder of the different ways we can solve disagreements! I usually wind up taking it down just in time for our Open House (parent night at the end of the year) to make room for more student work displays.




Digital: I have a master folder called Classroom Management.  Inside that folder, there are many folders, including the names of the items listed above.


I hope these tips helped! Good luck!

-Heidi


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