Happy Wednesday friends!! I'm linking up with the Blog Hoppin' peeps to share about organization! If you knew me (or saw my bedroom floor right now) you would laugh hysterically at that first sentence. But I have to say that in this, my 5th year of teaching, I am feeling the most organized and put together of any year yet! A huge part of that has to do with my absolute favorite addition to my classroom this year: Table Drawers!!
It all started late this summer when I saw this post from Katie King The Queen of First Grade Jungle.
When I saw this picture I immediately thought it would be a great way to organize and manage some of my materials. Last year when I moved I went from a class of 18 with lots and lots of storage to 29 with a comparatively tiny amount of storage. I felt like I was constantly passing out and re-shelving materials (and I use the term "re-shelf" VERY loosely...it was mostly just me throwing baskets of counters and cubes on top of each other all over the place and then wandering around the next day trying to pass them back out to tables). These table drawers have been a perfect solution. Praise the LORD for my momma (and her crossover) coming to help me set up my classroom because 6 of these puppies were never ever ever going to fit in my teeny Honda on one (or even 2) trips from the store.
In the top drawer I have some math manipulatives that we use almost daily. There are counters, ten frames, linking cubes, base ten blocks and dice. (You'll notice 2 things: 1- I have a slight obsession with dollar store containers, and 2- all the dollar store bins fit PERFECTLY together in the drawer!)
We use a lot of these during whole group practice work but also during math centers. This week I realized that when I have kids at a center at our near a table, they can just go grab whatever counters or dice or materials they need from their drawer and then bring it back when they are done. That is cutting down BIG time on center prep for me
The bottom drawer holds some of our student readers for our reading series. Those things took up a huge amount of shelf space and again, a lot of "come get your books, now come put your books away" time. The middle drawer is sort of a "catch-all" right now. I'm waiting to see as the year goes on what I will want/need to keep in there. It will soon hold some of our journals (reading, math, poetry) and our math warmup cards (more on these soon!) I also discovered yesterday that it will hold one of these supply caddies if you need it to.
I opted to use the space for other things and keep the marker/glue caddies on another shelf, but it's good to know that they fit in there :)
So if I'm not passing out 6 baskets of counters and cubes and dice all the time how are they getting out of the drawers? Enter the colored dots!
On each table, I gave each student a different colored dot. When I need them to get something out I just say "yellow dots get your dice" and they walk around and get the dice out for everyone. (A tip for those of you who don't have the same number of kids at a table - I have 3 tables of 4 and 3 tables of 5. The 5th color on those 3 tables is orange. When I ask Orange to do a job, they are taking care of their table and another assigned table. So far it's working great.) I just randomly call out colors throughout the day.
Update: Just today the kids started dictating colors to me "You called red twice today" "you haven't called yellow at ALL" so I made some sticks with colors on them and I randomly pull a stick. Arguements ceased.
I also really love these baskets on top of each drawer stack. I use them in a lot of different ways. Every morning they have their morning work sitting in there so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle of backpacks and homework and daily folders. Sometimes I pass out papers by throwing them in the basket. When we are done with work to be graded, I have them turn in the quizzes or tests into the baskets in number order, and then a colored dot brings the baskets to my table. I can also throw tracers and construction paper in there for crafts.
The best part about the baskets is they also seem to serve as some sort of invisible force field for my kids. When something is in the basket, it's out of sight out of mind. I can have them pull dice and counters out and put them in the basket, then explain the game and no one is messing with dice or playing with counters until I say "go". When they are done their whisper phones, but I haven't collected them back yet, if they are in the basket, nobody touches them. It's like they don't exist anymore. Then it's "green dots bring your whisper phones back to my basket on my table", the phones get put away and I'm halfway into the next activity. Sometimes I'm not ready to collect a certain item from the tables, and I can just leave them in the baskets without them getting in the way of kids desk space.
My other favorite organization tip from this year is what I call my "uh-oh" shelf (clearly it needs a better name!)
I didn't have a dedicated space for any of this stuff last year and it drove me nuts. Now when the kids have some sort of issue, almost everything can be solved here. I have wipes, plastic bags (we have a lot of make & take/cut out cards with our reading series), "hanitizer", bandaids, tissues and a "lost and found" for center pieces or other various found items. It's a one stop shop.
Hop back over to Blog Hoppin to see lots of other great organization tips and have a great rest of the week :)