Join the Conversation! Visit the Really Good Teachers Forum!

Log In

Forgot Your Display Name Or Password?


Specify Facebook App ID and Secret in Super Socializer > Social Login section in admin panel for Facebook Login to work

Reset Your Password Or Request Display Name


A Really Good Stuff® Community

Join Our 2,080 Members Engaging In 369 Posts
December 22, 2016

“Must-Do” Drawers

Written By: Samantha Beattie
Originally Published On: June 22, 2012
X "Must-Do" Drawers for Classroom Management

"Must-Do" Drawers for Classroom Management

Classroom organization can be a challenge, especially in the primary grades. As a primary teacher, I tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. I have always been challenged with creating organization that works for both the students and myself. This year, I was able to create a system that did both.

How to Use Must-Do Drawers


To begin, I sorted my word work, phonics, and small group materials. I categorized the materials for sight words, CVC words, CVCE words, contractions, etc. Then I narrowed my sorting to the materials that are consistently used within my classroom and are needed at a moments notice. Using two 10-drawer carts, I labeled the top drawers for “must-do” activities on both. The remaining drawers are used for storing the materials. I repeated the same process for my math station materials.

When I prepare the new week, I now just pull out the materials from one drawer and move them to the “must-do” drawers. The “must-do” drawers allow me the flexibility to have four different activities for the students to complete during the week.


In each tray, I labeled and laminated file folders for each day of the week. This additional step keeps me on track with the skills for each group. If for some reason the activity is not completed that day, I simply move it to the next day’s folder. Papers and materials are no longer stacked in endless piles, which get moved around all day as I work with students. I am more efficient and prepared for my students at small group time.

I found the students and myself to be more organized. I gained more instructional time for my students, as everything was exactly where we all needed it. Organizing takes time and patience, but the payoff was well worth it.




About the Author
Ms. Samantha Beattie is a ninth year teacher. She graduated Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida, with a Master’s degree in Brain-based Teaching Reading & Literacy and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She is endorsed in Gifted, ELL, and Reading. She has taught first grade for eights years, and is currently teaching a multi-age classroom of first and second graders. You can find her on her blog at Ms. Smarty Pants Blog, on Facebook at Ms. Smarty Pants Facebook, and on Pinterest at Ms. Smarty Pants Pinterest.



  • Share:
to share this article.
to make a comment
  • Samantha
    July 9, 2012

    Hi Kristin,
    I’m gonna try to answer your questions! =)

    The activities in the drawers are mainly phonics and word work skills. I have word sorts, letters for word building, memory games using sight words,RGS center kits as well as other center kits. I only put in activities I have already taught and the kids are comfortable using. For example, this week I am teaching contractions using a 4-player game and another where students have to choose the 2 words that equal the contraction. I will use these with the students this week in small groups. Then next week, these move to the must do drawer. The second must do always has a spelling activity. (i teach several spelling activities over the first few weeks of school and then they become a staple in the must do drawer.) Once the student has completed the 2 must-dos, if there is time they can choose from any of the other previously taught activities. Usually a drawer only has 2 activities in it, some only have one. I decide based on the amount of time the activity will take.

    The folder system is for me. It is how I keep my response sheets and activities organized for each day. I have one set for groups and another for whole group lessons. I needed something other than stacks- I never get through the stack! So now I just pull Monday’s reading response and put it in the reading folder. I pull the folder out during small groups to ensure it gets done! I do this with each subject. If it is a game or manipulatives that do not fit in the folder, I just put a sticky note to remind me what I plan to use. For the groups, I just pull their folder and whatever activities are in the bin. This ensures I get it done. =)

    I think that covers your questions! Feel free to ask away if I wasn’t clear.


  • Kristin Vandro
    June 23, 2012

    Hi Samantha,
    Could you post a picture or explain more of what activities/games you have purchasesd/made for each of your drawers?

    Do you the students use the must-do drawers? Do they know which activity to get out and/or what to do?

    What do you use the laminated file folders for? Are those games for the students to get out? I saw that you use them to keep track of the skills you are working on with each student or group. How do you use the laminated folders to do that? Do you use a wet erase marker to keep track of where the students are?

    I have so many questions for getting my classroom more organized as well!

    Thank you,

  • Mary
    June 22, 2012

    Love these drawers. I like this idea. Now wait until there is free shipping or Friday discount to stretch that budget.

  • Taryn
    June 22, 2012

    Those drawers are perfect! I would definitely love to have these in my classroom. I love how you moved up the work!

  • Mary Ellen
    June 22, 2012

    What a truly organized and efficient way to handle all of these materials. I’ve been looking at these sets of drawers, but wasn’t sure how to put them to the best use.

  • Cheryl
    June 22, 2012

    I definitely need organizational help! Thank you for these wonderful ideas! 🙂

  • Samantha
    June 22, 2012

    I am so happy my post gave you some ideas as to how to use the drawers. Hope you have a great summer!

  • cindy
    June 22, 2012

    I think your idea of moving everything to the must do drawer is a great idea! This way you have to look at what is in the drawer & you will not go crazy trying to find something that is already in the drawer or that you think is missing.

  • Brigette Anderson
    June 22, 2012

    I love your ideas. I love the cart idea. Thank you for sharing!

  • Diane Zurlo Keller
    June 22, 2012

    I love your ideas! I have a set of these drawers and so far I have only used them as a dumping ground! My goal for next year was to create some sort of organization system for them – you have given me a huge boost now! Thank you!

to report.

© 2019 Really Good Stuff, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Statement | Terms of Use | Preference Center