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July 15, 2016

How to Organize Teaching Materials from Vacation

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X How to Organize Teaching Materials from Vacation

How to Organize Teaching Materials from Vacation

Teachers seem to collect more “stuff” than people in any other profession. How many times have you been on vacation or in a store and have seen something that would work perfectly for a lesson you are planning? Finding the brochure rack and anything with maps is always a little bit like being a kid in a candy store.  If you are like most of us, the chances that you are a materials hoarder is probably pretty high. It’s okay, you’re in good company! So, what do you do with all of those extra things when they are not being used? Try some of the quick and easy tips below for keeping your “gotta have this” finds organized.

Storage Ideas for Teaching Materials

Postcard Storage

Postcards are great educational tools! They are inexpensive and are great for writing prompts, geography and just about every other subject you could possibly want to teach. To keep them organized when they are not being used, place them in a child-size shoe box. Most toddler shoes come in small boxes that are the perfect size for storing postcards. If you do not have a toddler to buy shoes for, ask your local shoe store if they have any extras that you may have.

Brochure Storage

After a summer of traveling around to different historical sites, your pile of brochures may be threatening to take over your desk. Instead of hiding them away, put them in a small plastic basket in the class library or writing center. Children can them look through them and learn about the different places in their area and across the country that they can visit. If you would rather not keep them out for children to work with, simply place them in a large, zippered pencil pouch. The pouch can them be put in your three ring binder with other geography materials and the brochures will stay wrinkle free and organized.

Tiny Supply Storage

One of the most challenging areas of organization can be keeping those small paper clips, rubber bands, and other office supplies in check. While putting them in your desk drawer or in a desktop organizer can work for some people, for others, it is a mess just waiting to happen. If you struggle with organizing these things try using a hanging jewelry holder. It is a small, pocket style holder that has compartments that are perfectly sized for smaller office supplies. It can be hung on the side of a filing cabinet, on the back of the door of your storage closet or even next to your white board at the front of the classroom. It’s also a great way to display all of your nature treasures from vacation that will help teach your students about a particular region or state.


Keeping your supplies and accessories organized is a challenging proposition, but you can do it! Start with simple steps and organize one thing at a time. Before you know it, your classroom and teaching materials will be neat and tidy.


What are some of your tips and tricks for storing those odds and ends that are so essential to teaching?  Share with us!


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  • Bobbie Marroquin
    October 31, 2011

    Thanks so much for the tips, I love to be so organized, so I am always looking for more ways to improve myself and my students. I love using small hanging pocket charts to store the small supplies I or my students use all the time. It keeps them visiable and out of the way. No more loose paper clips or push pins laying around.

  • Tami
    June 4, 2011

    Love the idea of using the clear pocket hanging organizer and just using magnets to stick it to the side of my file cabinet next to my desk. Brilliant!!

  • Sarah C
    March 26, 2011

    I’ve never thought of using a jewlery hanging organizer for small office supplies. That’s genius! I always have small paperclips and thumbtacks hanging out with no home.

  • Kathleen
    February 20, 2011

    I always need ideas on how to organize- especially when it’s laready time to order stuff for next year! I’ve gotten better at opredicting what I will need, but it’s hard in February!!
    THanks for sharing!

  • Jessica
    August 30, 2010

    Since I teach 6 different grade levels in reading, writing, and math, it is always important to know what I have. I have a notebook with a page for each of the big ideas in each of the topics. For reading, they are “cause and effect”, “determining the main idea”, etc. Whenever I find something that would work perfect, I write down the level that I would use it with and where I put it. That way whenever I am preparing a lesson for cause and effect for third grade, I know what I have and where I put it.

    Jessica Williams
    Gifted Resource Teacher K-5

  • Heather Sutton
    August 29, 2010

    I love these ideas!! They are great ways to organize ways for students to research geography….I love to use the organizing cubes found in stores for students to store books, supplies, and paper products!! Create a mailbox system or homework bin with the cubes also which gives students jobs as a postal worker too!

  • Beth M
    August 29, 2010

    This topic is one I’ve discussed with my friends several times! How do you know when it’s time to let go of some of our teaching supplies? Our thoughts revolve around the idea of “You never know when I might need them!” to “I may have a student who would benefit from the item(s)/materials, so I should hang onto them just in case!”. As a teacher myself, I do find myself “hoarding” at times. I know I do this because of the time and money I have put into making or buying the items I have collected through the years.

    Recently, I have begin to go through my “stash” and if I find materials I haven’t used in over 2 years and it’s in good condition, I offer it to a newer teacher who may be in need of materials. That allows me to part with those items and still feel that they are being put to good use! Then, there are 2 happy teachers in one shot! 🙂

    As for items in my classroom, I have tendency to organize A LOT of my supplies and materials by using my Longaberger baskets and clear protectors. This has saved me so much time! Now, these supplies are OUT for me to see and they have a home to return to when not in use! Of course, it also makes my room that more inviting for the students and others when visiting!

  • Maureen Riordan
    August 29, 2010

    I bought little rectangular gladware plastic boxes to hold individual sets of plastic letter tiles. I labeled each letter tile on the back with a permanent marker. Then I put a colored dot sticker on the box and one on its lid and wrote the number on each. Each child gets the box with his/her number tiles and it makes it easy to return the tiles if they fall on the floor or slides onto someone else’s workspace. Makes passing out the letters for word building very efficient and they are more durable than plastic baggies.

  • Cara F
    August 28, 2010

    The clear salad containers from the grocery store deli are perfect for storing spools of ribbon, manipulatives, craft items. Since they are clear you can see what is inside.

  • Julie M.
    August 27, 2010

    For my small supplies, I have a hardware toolbox with small drawers to fit all of those little supplies. Staples in one drawer, small paper clips in one, large in another, etc. I like that I can pull a whole drawer out if I’m doing a project that needs a lot of one thing, such as paper clips.

  • Kim
    August 27, 2010

    This is ALWAYS a challenge for me! Thanks for the tips. If someone is looking for toddler shoe boxes and can’t find a store that will give them away, you could post a ‘wanted’ listing on Craigslist. It’s a good way to get in touch with people who have them and would likely just throw them in the trash or recycling.

  • janine
    August 27, 2010

    Thanks for the tips. My desk is always a mess not matter how hard I try to keep it clean. I make it my goal each year to keep it organized, however, it many times is not a goal I achieve. I will once again start this year with the dream of organization.

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