I love to find out-of-the-box, creative storage ideas for my organizing challenges. If I can find an inexpensive item at a yard sale or a discount store and use that find for something totally different than intended I get a sense of satisfaction. I’ve defied convention to create innovation. Here are some conventional, and unconventional, storage ideas for your teaching materials. If you have an out-of-the-box storage idea, email it to me and I’ll post it and enter your name into this month’s raffle.
1. Use a clear, hanging shoe organizer to store pens, pencils, paintbrushes, tape, glue, and anything else that fits! By using a clear one, you will always know where each item is.
2. Re-use baby food jars to store small items like beads, rubber bands, or paper clips. Screw the caps of baby food jars to the bottom of a shelf, fill jars with whatever you want to store, and twist the bottoms into the caps to keep small items organized and utilize as much shelf space as possible.
3. Use bed risers, typically used to make more storage space under beds, to make more storage space under tables or desks. Use large plastic bins or even small shelves under the table to store books and other objects.
4. Extend storage as far upward as possible. Use floor-to-ceiling shelving or cabinetry, or stack storage units on top of each other, to help maximize storage space without losing floor space.
5. Get dish pans from a dollar store or yard sale to store your classroom library. Since dish pans don’t have holes like milk crates do, the corners of the books will not get destroyed.
6. Look for stacking letter trays at a yard sale or office supply store to organize homework assignments. Save time, too, by asking students to place their completed homework in the appropriate tray at the beginning of class each day.
7. Hang decorative cloth around a tall table or in front of a bookcase to create hidden storage. Store bins under the table and stop worrying about keeping book cases perfectly tidy.
8. Make storage into an art project! Ask students to bring in empty cereal boxes and fashion them to look like store-bought magazine holders. Have the students decorate the boxes with acrylic paint, contact paper, or wallpaper and use them to store magazines or workbooks. At the end of the year, each student can take their magazine holder home!
9. Use a skirt hanger designed to store numerous skirts to store markers, watercolors, stickers, etc. Fill large, clear resealable bags with various objects. Hang the bags on each clip of the skirt organizer. Suspend on an empty closet hook or even on a door knob.
10. Use a wine rack mounted to a wall or placed on a shelf to store rolled posters, place mats, or art smocks. Not only does this save space, it creates an interesting decoration as well. I’ve also used a wicker umbrella stand for rolled posters, or other tube shaped items.
11. Search yard sales for an old trunk to replace an activities table for younger students or a bench for older students. The trunk provides storage space inside of it for books, toys, etc. and can also become a fun class project: have each student take turns painting their name or a small picture on the trunk to turn it into a piece of art! Be careful that the trunk has a safety catch so that it can’t accidentally slam shut.
12. Create more shelf space with hanging closet shelves. These shelves can be hung in any closet or any place you have an open hook and typically have five or six shelves. Papers, notebooks, folders, etc. can be stored on each shelf without taking up a lot of space on your desk or book shelves. The shelves can be found at most home supply stores.
13. Industrial strength Velcro can provide many storage options for the classroom. Stick the loopy side of the Velcro on the side of a desk or table and the soft side on a no-tear mailing envelope for paper and reference chart storage. Line the bottom of a bulletin board with Velcro to hang any number of visuals, posters, cards, and pockets. Stick the loopy side of the Velcro on a cabinet or door and the soft side on pens, calculators, and any other small items that tend to get lost in a drawer. Now, they are all in one place.
For more information on differentiation strategies to reach ALL learners, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Special Needs in the General Classroom, Strategies That Make It Work. Available in both print and electronic versions!
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