Tips and Tricks for an Organized Classroom

Ever get frustrated when your students mix up the library? Or when the ipad cords are always tangled up? Or you constantly have to figure out who didn’t do their homework or write their name?

After many years of teaching first grade, I tried many different ways to organize my classroom. Whether it was something that helped me be more efficient, or something that made routines faster and easier for the students, or something that gave me more storage in the limited space we have in our classroom, I was willing to take the time to buy or make something to make my teaching day go smoother.

Here are some of my favorite and easy tips to help organize your classroom:


Crates for Storage 

Tie crates together for storage/shelves. These can be used to organize centers, student work areas, or specific groups’ supplies.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:
Seat Crates

Make seat crates! They are great for flexible seating and can double as storage.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:
iPad Storage (Dish Racks & Standing File Folder)

Store and charge your devices with easy access to your students. You can use letter trays, standing file folder holder, or dish racks!

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: Chad Parnell
Holder for Games (Magazine Holder)

Use magazine holders to store and organize all of your games. You can label with topic/month and place bags of games or file folder games in the magazine holders. This way they are sorted and ready for easy access.

Photo Credit: Jodi Durgin
Holder for Games (Document Cases)

For all of your games that are in plastic bags or file folders… use crates and hanging files or document cases/project cases.

Photo Credit: Teach Outside the Box
Poster Holder (Pant Hangers)

I re-used the plastic pant hangers I would get from the store and use them to hang my posters/anchor charts. I would hang them on a curtain rod or hooks. The hanger acted as another way to temporarily display the poster by hanging it from the ledge of a bulletin board.

Photo Credit: Mrs. Unger’s (Amber Unger)

Classroom Routines

Hanging Files for Mailbox or Homework

Use crates or hanging files as a mailbox system or to turn in homework- write name or number for each child. Instead of sorting through a stack of papers, you can easily check to see which child didn’t turn in their homework for the day by looking for empty files.

Photo Credit: The Primary Peach
Eliminate No Name Problem (Highlight Missing Name)

Place a cup of highlighters next to “turn in work” tray. Highlight your name BEFORE you turn in your work. Then if they didn’t write their name, this forces them to write it and then highlight it. No more “whose is this paper?

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Bathroom Passes

Ever lose bathroom passes? Or don’t even want to touch the germ-filled passes? I had a boy pass and a girl pass. They hung on the wall and when a student needed to go, they got the pass, waved it at me and waited for my approval. If it wasn’t a good time to go, I would shake my head no. If I shake my head yes, they placed the bathroom pass on their desk. No more lost passes, yucky germs on the pass, and if I forgot who went to the bathroom, the pass is on their desk.

Photo Credit: Miss Kate’s Desk
Color Coded Center Bins

Struggle with center organization? Students were able to help set up centers easily and independently by grabbing the appropriate bin that they needed. The color of the bin matched the card that was on our centers rotation chart to help them know what bin to grab or what bin to go to for the center. I put all the materials they needed in the bin before that day so it was ready to go.

Photo Credit: First Grade PandaMania
Lost Book/Book hospital Bin

“Lost book” or “Hospital” bin for your library. Instead of having students guess or just throw the book back wherever they want, they can place it in the “lost book” bin and either a teacher or helping student can reorganize them later. And if a book needs repairing, you can fix it when you find the time.

Photo Credit: The First Grade Scoop

Teacher Organization

Monday-Friday File

A weekly file system. Use letter trays, drawers, etc. labeled Monday -Friday to set yourself up for a successful week. As you prep materials and make copies, just slide them into the appropriate day. As you teach, you just reach into that day to find your materials. I preferred something that allowed the materials to lay flat so papers didn’t curl. This is also great for days you will need a substitute. All of the materials they need, like the Daybreak Lesson Plans Sub Plan and optional printables can be placed in the appropriate day!

Photo Credit: Juice Boxes and Crayolas
To Copy Bin

Create a “To copy” basket. As I planned throughout the week, I would place anything I needed copies of in a basket. At the end of the week, I would go to the copy room one time (hopefully) and get all my copies for the next week done.

Photo Credit: Lindsey Nagorski
Tool Box

Toolbox to organize all your desk supplies – post its, markers, paperclips, pushpins, etc.

Photo Credit: Miss Kindergarten

Take some time this summer to organize a specific area in your classroom or treat yourself to some fun and pretty organizing tools/bins for your desk area. A few small tweaks may help lessen the stress and frustration and end with big results for the next school year.

Happy organizing; Click on each image to directly connect you to each resource!