Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Organizing For Next Year: Part 3

I actually planned to post a few days ago, but field trips have gotten in the way. I have 2 this week! Our big one is Legoland Florida on Friday; should be fun although I was just there Saturday so I'm a little bit over Legoland right now. On Monday we had an Arts trip to see the Orlando Ballet dance "The Little Mermaid." My kids thought it was beautiful, and so did I. However, on the way back to school our (school) bus broke down! We got back and had lunch at about 2:15!! It was quite an adventure. And now for the intended post!

Since much of my day is spent teaching math, I am determined to better organize my math materials. You know what happens -- math class arrives, and you realize you need certain manipulatives for the lesson. They are hopefully all together in some kind of container, but you need them divided up among your students in some way. Now you have lost some of that valuable instructional time just getting out materials.

OK, so maybe that never happens to you! Confession time -- it does happen to me. I had to chuckle when I met with my principal to go over my formal eval this year. She commented about how well organized my supplies were -- all ready to place on the tables for my groups to use. OF COURSE! 'Cause I knew she was coming!

My goal is to be that organized day in and day out. I've decided that means storing materials in sets so they can easily be put on tables (I like organizing my students into 4 groups). To do this, I'm having to find just the right containers. I have been spending a lot of time at my favorite teacher store -- the Dollar Tree. I've found some great containers, so I keep going back. Once they're gone that's it -- you can never count on Dollar Tree having something again!

Many of the ones I've been using are labeled as food storage containers and I'm really liking them for the classroom. Here are some examples:

These turned out to be just right for my colored pencils. For next year, I want kids to be able to take a box to their table to share. My students have been using the hand sharpeners to sharpen all the pencils and sorting them by color. All I had to do was portion them out between the boxes. I usually like to have four tables with two of them seating 5 students (we have a class size of 18 for third grade).

All these need is labels, which is on my to - do list!

I purchased two sets of cuisenaire rods this year, so I have them in these boxes. This was the first year I used them and I love them. I'm seriously considering buying two more sets so I can have a set for each table.

Two-color counters are used so much, so I definitely wanted them in the individual containers. These little 3 x 5 Sterilite boxes are perfect. I've had these boxes for awhile, and when I checked my local Walmart they did not have them. I'll be looking for them elsewhere this summer, because I have some other materials I'd love to put in them.

Do you have a favorite brand of storage containers? We just had the Container Store open in Orlando. I've never been there -- is it worth a trip?


  1. I don't know how I didn't realize you were an Orlando teacher as well!? I'm VERY excited about the Container Store, my wallet not so much, lol. We just got two sets of the Cuisenaire Rods for our classrooms so I'm glad to hear good things about them! Thanks for sharing, I love organizing!

    Teaching with a Touch of Twang

    1. If you have the rods you really should read Beyond Pizzas and Pies -- I learned so much about using them to teach fractions.


  2. I'm so jealous that you live near LegoLand & get to go there on a field trip! What a wonderful day for your students!

    1. We feel that it's a great field trip for 3rd graders and hope they keep the group prices affordable so it can be our annual trip.


  3. Loving these organizational posts!!! Will there be a part 4?

    The Math Maniac

  4. Definitely! As long as I survive the end of the year field trips . . .


  5. Okay, I can NOT imagine having the school bus break down! Crazy! I'm so glad everything turned out okay. At least you know your kids will NEVER forget that field trip. :)

    Loving your organization! I'm also obsessed with containers and baskets. I don't really have a favorite. I just like to switch whenever I see something cute. You gotta love that feeling of prepared organization. I have that at the beginning of the year, but it is typically gone by the end. Good thing we have the summer to reorganize.

    The Teaching Thief


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