it's the little things

I went through two HUGE changes my first year of marriage.  Number one...getting used to living in a new home (I still say that was a bigger transition than actually transitioning into marriage) and Number Two....getting used to "living" in a classroom.  Now I use the quotes for "living" in the classroom...however, for you teacher people out there...you know just as well as I do that you really could live there if you allowed yourself.  Well, by no means am I queen of keeping this house perfectly organized nor am I a master of a perfectly organized classroom.  However, I have found some things that just work for me.  They are the little things that make my life just a tad bit easier both at home and at school. These are the little things that keep my life less cluttered and allow for a little bitty breath of fresh air throughout my day.  (Thanks to my lovely teacher friend whose recent blog post reminded me to share my strengths and ideas with others....not to keep them to myself.)  So here goes....the little things that make my life easier.  Hope you can find a glimpse of decluttering inspiration!

At home...

I'm a tad basket crazy...
This basket sits on our table in the foyer.  It houses keys, an umbrella, sunglasses, etc.  (All the junk you need when heading out the door that I can't stand having sitting on tables around the house.)

Oh, I love this one! These are great post-it pockets that you can buy anywhere that has post-it notes.  It sticks to the fridge and is the home to all of our bills that are due or things that need to be mailed.

We have a very small section of our kitchen countertops between our sink and the wall going into the kitchen.  I never prepare food here, so we have this great organizer I snatched up at TJ Maxx that holds grocery ads, gum, pizza coupons, carry-out menus, etc.  I declutter it about once a month.  (Again...it keeps stuff off the countertops and hidden away!)

In the classrom...
(You'll notice there are quite a few more "little things" that keep me sane in the classroom.  After all, I do have 21 busy-bodies to keep in line all day.)

Snagged this up at Goodwill in my pre-teacher days.  This sits right next to my desk and the kiddos empty their "Take-Home" folders into the designated bins each morning.  (Notes for me, homework, and returned papers.)

Yes, simple idea I know.  But hey, as a first year teacher last year...I had to learn this trick! (Finished/Not Finished.)  The kids know exactly where to place their papers as they finish work.  (This holds me accountable that I don't let too many papers pile up...which is oh so tempting to do.)

So we have these big ol' honkin "lecture" carts that I guess some teachers would use to teach from.  Just not at our school.  Definitely not my "teaching style".  So I placed that eye-sore right behind my desk and put it to work.  There is a drawer for items for each day of the week...copies, manipulatives needed, science materials, etc.  There is a bottom drawer that houses materials for my volunteers that come in.  My volunteers know to go directly to that drawer to find the things they need when they come in to help.  This works perfectly.  Maybe not the prettiest....but it works.  (The top holds my overhead projector and my anecdotal notebooks, gradebook, clipboard, etc.)  If you are lucky enough not to have this monster to house in your classroom...you could easily do this with two of the 3-drawer Rubbermaid containers.

Can't say I came up with this.  My teaching partner from last year taught me this cute trick.  A simple file folder that sits at an absent student's desk.  As papers are passed out, they go straight into the folder.

Alright, I'm going to be honest.  These lovely mailboxes are expensive....especially on a teacher's budget.  However, I have learned that teachers are by-far the most resourceful and sharing people on this planet.  Someone didn't want this at the end of last year....it was looking for a good home (or the dumpster).  I saved this little mailbox's life.  One mailbox for each student.  (This is where I breathe a sigh of relief.)  Need to know who didn't pick up their homework? A quick glance tells me. 
(Each of my students has a number 1-21 and their number labels their mailbox.  If you don't have a system like this in place in your classroom....do it!)  The top basket holds our "Wednesday Folders"...the folders that go home from the school each Wednesday. (Hint to snag the "good stuff"....ask around! Be there when teachers are cleaning out their classroom or moving in at the end of summer.  Or...email or ask around and simply ask people if they have things they don't want.  I've also learned a lot of teachers are closet "hoarders". hehe.)

You clean-freak people are fidgeting in your seats.  I'm okay with that.  Kids aren't clean. Period.  So this looks a little messy.  Again, I'm okay with that.  This is on our whiteboard when you walk into the classroom.  Each kiddo has a popsicle stick with their name on it in the bucket. (Bucket compliments of the Target dollar aisle, heck yes.) They place their stick in their lunch choice each morning.  (This also serves as a quick "who is absent" check in the morning.)

This is my job list system.  Simply place velcrow on the door and velcrow on each crayon.  I rotate these each week.  It's that simple.

This is just a little something extra.  It is an extra bookshelf that gasp I don't use for books.  Now don't freak out.  My students have huge access to books in my classroom. I just don't use this shelf because I use those annoying wire shelvings that can make anyone go crazy.  (I didn't say I'm perfect...because those definitely don't allow for library perfection.)  The clear bins hold Science and Math notebooks because there isn't enough room in their cubbies.  (I have a "Tub Master" that hands out the notebooks before the mini-lesson.  Right now you are picturing arms swinging, notebooks flying and kids crying. No worries.  I model and teach them the system at the beginning of the year...so they handle this just fine!)  The red canvas boxes hold paper towels and Clorox wipes in one and a hand sweeper in the other.

This sits on my desk all day.  I throw papers in that I need to copy quickly after school.  Works like a charm for me.

So there you have it.  A few "little" things that seem so simple, yet they make my life so much easier.  Like them? Use them! Don't like them? Let me know what works better for you! I'm always up for some new ideas to organize!

Pin It!


  1. This is how great ideas spread. Your old partner teacher got the folder idea from me and I got it from somewhere else. So funny! Teachers are a creative bunch!

  2. It's moments like these when I realize how elementary and secondary teachers are worlds apart. So many of your ideas were so cute and awesome, but I can't use them (darn it!). It sure is fun to see how your organize YOUR chaos, though! I wouldn't mind if I never see another homework assignment for the rest of my life! ;) Great post!

  3. Cait! I love all the ideas for organization in the classroom! I will probably use most of them when I have my own! I also like the post-it folder thing, we need better organization in that area...Hope you're having a blessed day! Love ya!


Thanks for stopping by! Your support and insight encourage and inspire me! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Related Posts with Thumbnails