Monday, July 30, 2012

Behind Closed Doors: A Classroom Organization Linky!

Eeeeeeek!  It's almost AUGUST, and you know what THAT means!!! School is just around the bend, friends.  I am kind-of frazzled right now, because I want to be simultaneously working on 345,281 things, but so far, I have not figured out a way to clone myself.  Shame! :)  I want to finish the Common Core Math I-Can Statements, and I am really close to wrapping that project up, but truthfully, since I don't teach math right now, it's getting bumped around a bit on the priority list. 

Today,  was exciting though!  I woke up, and I decided to check my work email.  I saw that we were cleared to go in to work in our classrooms, so I showered, threw on some comfy clothes, put on a little make-up, packed up some school stuff, and drove to the school.  I probably should have actually eaten something first, but I wasn't planning on being there long.  Ha!  Seriously!  I do the same thing every single year.  I kid myself into thinking that I will just stop in for an hour or two.  Deep down, I realize I'm lying to myself.  A few hours came and went.  I ended up messing around in my classroom for five hours!  Lesson learned.  When I go in tomorrow, I will eat something first.  :)

Okay, I am sure you could care less about my food consumption, soooooo moving on!

Let's take a looksie at my progress, shall we?  There's nothing really special about the space YET, but considering it was a blank slate when I went in this morning, I am feeling pretty good about it.  I think I can confidently call Day 1 a success!   In somewhat related news, I was also super excited to get some laminating done today.  I brought it home to cut from the comfort of my own home, but obviously I am putting it off, because I am blogging instead of cutting.  I also managed to put some of the beach towels and mats into the washer and watered our plants, because LET'S FACE IT, it's just a lot more fun than cutting lamination!  I'll get around to it eventually.  :)

Please excuse my lack of focus!  My brain is zipping in so many different directions right now.  I am sure that you can all relate!  Back to the classroom.  I was a tad overly-obsessive today.  I am in a bit of a frenzy, because my in-laws are coming up from Maryland on Wednesday.  So, essentially I won't be doing ANY school work or projects until maybe next Monday. We will be going to a parade, boating, riding bikes, and watching the Saints play the Cardinals.  (Love this time of year in my itty bitty city!)  While I am super excited about having fun and spending time with my hubs and our families, I am also acutely aware of how soon school starts.   If you know me in real life, you already know that I am 12 kinds of stressed out about it (as Abby would say).  Maybe even 100 kinds of stressed out about it.  I am NOT a "Que sera, sera" person.  I'm as Type A as it gets!  So, naturally, I tried to get as much done at school as I could today. Fortunately, I am pretty sure I morphed into a robot person.  I don't think I have ever gotten so much done in one day in the history of my teaching career.  True story.

Since I am flip-flopping on bulletin boards, and I have been flip-flopping on my classroom designing plan, I decided to get to work on something that I can't be wishy-washy about.  My CABINETS.  Seriously, once I pulled everything out of storage and started to put all of my classroom goodies back onto shelves, I realized that I needed to revamp some things.  I did decorate a little, but I didn't touch a single bulletin board or create a single display... yet.  That's my favorite thing to do, and I like to let it marinate.  I think that decorating my classroom will be SO much easier now that I've laid the groundwork.  Today was all about organization.  Sure, it was painful, and there were times when I wanted to cram everything back into a cabinet in disarray... to forget about it and keep it behind closed doors.  Ultimately, the neat freak in me won out though, and I painstakingly reorganized my supplies.  In the end, I am glad I took the time to do it.  Here's the run-down.

I organized my centers and activity cards into tubs by season/purpose.  I need to make labels for the tubs, so that's on my ever-growing To-Do List.  :)  I bought the tubs at Walmart, and I am definitely going back to grab a few more of the larger tubs.  They are the perfect size! I bought the smaller tubs two years ago, and I haven't been able to find them ever since.  All of my centers are laminated and they are kept in gallon-sized baggies.  I keep one copy of each recording sheet inside of the baggies as well for easy grab & go copying!  Now that they are organized more efficiently, I'm hoping that utilizing my centers will be a SNAP!

I have a really large library, and I love giving my kiddos access to lots of books, but if you saw the amount of books that landed in my book hospital last year, you would understand why I keep some of my more precious read alouds in a safe place.  I rotate them in and out throughout the year, and put them in my "Books in the Spotlight" center for kids to read.  After a read aloud, I leave them out for about a week before returning them to this little book nook.  This approach usually makes the read aloud an especially popular choice, but it minimizes wear and tear.  :)  Just the way I like it!

I took a few snapshots of my other storage spaces.  I clearly have a thing for containers.  :)  I like to have containers that match my color scheme even if nobody ever sees them.  It makes my heart happy!

The other area I spent some time tweaking was my small group area. Luckily, this was much easier to tweak, because most of the tubs were already organized from last year.  Essentially, I like to keep everything close to our work area.  I like to be able to grab a resource at the drop of a hat, so it's really important that all of my goodies are close to where I work with small groups or pull individual students.  

I put some of my teaching props inside of numbered tubs.  Each tub has a different "theme".  This keeps me from spending too much time searching and digging around in each tub for supplies. If it's small enough to fit inside, and it also fits a theme, then it goes into a tub. Let's take a look inside.  :)

This tub is filled with lots of visualizing goodies!

This tub has Slinkies that we use to "flip the sound" and cars for some of my struggling kiddos to use Elkonian style.  :)

This tub has a few metacognition resources tucked away inside. I use this with the metacognition tool kit in my TpT store.

I keep all of my comprehension inflatables in one tub for easy access.

I like to use these little touch lights for syllabication practice, but they can be used for phoneme segmentation too.

I like to call this my hodgepodge tub.  It has different concrete models from Comprehension Connections, and Silly Putty to use as a demonstration of how seed stories start out small and can be stretched out.  I am so excited, because that idea was recently published in the Aug/ Sept 2012 edition of the 2nd/3rd grade Mailbox Magazine.  Yay!  :) 

This tub contains resources that I like to use for determining importance.  They were from Target's dollar bin last summer.

This tub holds my easy button from Staples, and buzzers from Learning Resources!
I hide other tools away behind the curtain.  I haven't filled all of the tubs yet.  Soon enough!
This photo shows how close the resources are to my small group area.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope you all enjoyed taking a look "behind closed doors".  I'd love to see how you organize your classroom wares, so I'm hosting my first official linky party!  If you link up, please post the following graphic on your blog.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!  I can't wait to learn from all of you! :) 


  1. I just subscribed to The Mailbox Magazine. I never heard of it until now! I haven't gotten into my classroom yet, but I wanted to sign up for your linky because I'll be doing posts about how I organize my classroom! I really like how you have everything organized in little containers. I need a bunch of those for my class too!

    Look Who's Teaching

  2. What a fun linky party!!! Unfortunately I can't get into school yet . . . when I finally can I would love to link up, if it's not too late. Your room looks great! I love all of your containers-awesome for organization. Congrats on a first day well done!!!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  3. I love these ideas! I can't wait to get into my classroom and start organizing. My big chore - organizing my books into genres. I am not looking forward to doing this :(

    Mommy, Teacher, & So Much More

  4. I'm the same way about eating and getting into my room the first day. Glad I'm not the only one! Would love to join your linky later this week. May take me a while, I'm new at this blogging thing!

  5. I Love, Love, Love your tubs for guided reading. I would love for you to do a more detailed post on your tubs and what is in them and how you use everything. Too cool.

    My Life as a Third Grade Teacher

  6. Well done for day one!!! It's obvious that you were determined today! I too get all stressed out before's hard getting it done, remaining sane and enjoying family time. I hope you can relax with your family now that you've gotten so much done!

  7. Great peek into your room! It looks HUGE! I will join the linky party once I can get into my classroom! :)

  8. Your room looks great! I haven't even been in my room yet. EEEK! Hopefully, tomorrow. I joined your linky party and am now following you.

    Great work!

  9. As of this summer, I am a new teaching blog addict. Yours is definitely one of my favorites. Lots of creative ideas!! Where did you come up with some of your reading strategy tubs (cars for flip the sound, etc.)? Did you come up with them on your own, a workshop, book, website? I'd like to have some type of visual to share with the kids when introducing the different strategies. thanks!

  10. It's looking great! :) Thanks for the link.

  11. I love the way you have things organized! Very inspirational! :)

  12. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the touch light idea... thanks for the inspiration. Now, how do you use the Easy button? I have 2 of them and last year I used to use it when my students came up to the SmartBoard to answer a question. If they got the answer correct they got to push the button. They loved it, but I'm trying to find new ways of incorporating it into my classroom this year. Just wondering how you used it...
    :0) Melissa
    More Time 2 Teach

  13. I just found your blog. I am going to create a post and link up to this great topic. Thanks, Stephanie

  14. Just found you and just linked up! I love the organization topic! :)
    Tori's Teacher Tips

  15. I loved looking at your room! I'll link up once I can get into my new room tomorrow! I actually just included some of your products I love on a blog post! You're blog and products have been super helpful!

    The Science Penguin