Organizing Lesson Plans, Materials, and Center Activities for the Year

Happy August! All this month, the Hello Sunshine collaborators will be sharing some great organizational tips and tricks for your classroom! I'm kicking off this month's theme by sharing just a few ideas for organizing classroom resources, including my center buckets! There's a freebie for organizational labels in here, too, so make sure you read the entire post so you can download them and use them in your classroom!


When I first started teaching, I "organized" (and I use that term loosely) my daily lesson plan materials by putting all of my copies, books, and materials into a different manila file folder for each day of the week. It wasn't the most efficient organizational strategy in the world - the folder wasn't big enough to hold all of the day's materials and it was difficult to pull items out without bringing the rest of the papers with it. So one summer, I decided enough was enough and I invested in the All-Purpose Teacher's Organizer from Lakeshore. I can't say enough good things about this product. It comes with 5 bins, one for each day of the week, with 5 file folders to organize your daily materials. This meant that I could have one separate folder of items for Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies! No more mixed up papers or materials falling out of folders. This thing keeps everything in order! And, if you're wondering, no I am not getting any sort of compensation for telling you about this organizer... ha! I just love it that much!!


Organizing school supplies is always an issue that can easily get out of control... just ask any teacher! Or, just look at this plastic bin of mine after families donated supplies at Meet the Teacher Night:

Can you say... hot mess?!? Every time I needed a supply I'd have to go digging for buried treasure; and ain't nobody got time for that! I decided to purchase a big 5-drawer Sterilite container (about $25 at Wal-Mart) and sorted all of my extra supplies into each drawer. It made my life so much easier to have everything organized and in its place!

My students don't have access to this drawer - this is just where I keep my extra donated supplies and then I grab items from the drawers as needed. We do community supplies in my classroom; and each table has their own bucket of scissors, glue bottles, and glue sticks in a different colored caddy. Then, whenever they need them, one student will grab their individual table buckets. It makes things so much easier to have them all in one easy location for the students to get on their own.


Next up, let's talk center organization. I have so many amazing resources that I have both made myself and purchased from TPT. Most of them have lots of pieces to them: cards, spinners, recording sheets... the list goes on! When I first attempted to organize them, I used big manila envelopes and put all of the pieces inside. However, when I put all the envelopes in a big plastic bin, they'd fall and slide to the bottom and were slightly too big and too tall to fit nicely into the bucket. It got frustrating to look through and pick up each one that had fallen on top of one another and it just didn't work for me. Finally, I figured out a great way to organize all of my center activities:

As pictured above, here are the materials I used to get everything started: plastic hanging file folder bin, Post-It sticky tabs, hanging file folders, Ziploc gallon-sized bags, skinny Sharpie markers.

Here's what I did to put it all together: 

1. Sort center activities in whatever way helps you organize them the most. In my case, I chose to sort them by concept/theme (sight words, sentence building, October/Fall, etc.). I got to work putting together the hanging file folders first. I filled in each tab with the learning concept so that I would know exactly where to find centers that matched each standard.

2. Get one of the Ziploc gallon bags. This is what you'll use to store each center so the parts and pieces don't get away from you. I put the recording sheet (if it had one) and any game pieces or cards that went along with it.

3. Use a Post-It sticky tab to write the name of the center, and the creator's name, if you'd like. For this beginning sounds center, which can be found in Cara Carroll's The Bus Stops Here {Math and Literacy Centers} pack, I wrote the name of the activity and put a little "CC" at the end so that I knew it was from her store. This is helpful in case you ever find yourself looking for a specific author's center activity. I used a skinny Sharpie marker so that I could fit as much information on the tab as I needed to without it looking too sloppy.

Once you've done that... you're finished! Just pop the finished bag into the correct standard/themed tabbed folder and you've got yourself a gloriously organized tub of centers.

I love that these tubs have lids so that I can stack them anywhere I need to. I've got two of them so far, but both are getting pretty full! It's almost going to be time for me to make a third tub of centers!


Finally, one of the ways teachers most love to show their organized selves off in the classroom is by using cute labels! A label added to any bin or bucket is the perfect way to add a cute and functional way to organize materials, supplies, and resources. Here's an example of what my labeled bins look like in my classroom:

You can grab these labels and more for FREE in my TPT store! Just click on the picture below to download!

 photo ClassroomLabelscoverpage_zps1ad16802.png

Keep coming back all month for more classroom organization ideas!

1 comment :

  1. Wonderful ideas! I can tell you're a super organized teacher. I especially like the idea to have a bin for every day with the plans and materials. I bet that helps so much when you need a sub.