Last week and this week, we have been focusing on answering questions we have received from you our readers. Here is the question I got: Organizing Materials – What to keep, what to trash, and how to store it all??? I love to organize but it can get overwhelming. It’s a little different as a speech therapist at 2 schools because I have 2 small rooms instead of a classroom but we all need organizational strategies. Just like a teacher with a classroom I have to be organized in order to know what I have and not have materials sit around for years collecting dust and taking up space. I’m always trying to think of ways to maximize storage with my limited space without constantly spending lots of money.
I recently went through all the material and stuff I have in one of my rooms since I was trying to get things organized for the end of the school year. I decided if I hadn’t used something in more than 2 years it was time to get rid of it (that’s also what I do with clothes in my closet!). It’s always great to see if other teachers or therapists can use some of the material you don’t use anymore unless it not worth saving. I had a few games that needed to be thrown away and some old worksheets with pictures that looked so outdated! Those went to the recycling! I knew my students would not want to use those anymore. With the internet and information easily available online I am always looking for new ideas and activities to do in therapy so I need to get rid of things I’m probably am not going to use again.
Storage is super important to me. If I can’t see my material or easily access them I’m not going to use them. Just like when you find an outfit stuffed in the back of your closet that you forgot about for a year, I have found activities stuffed in the back of my built- in cabinets and file cabinets that I forgot I had. That’s when I know I need to find a different way to organize them and label them so I know what I have. I’m all about storage bins, containers, and labeling!
Here are just a few ideas for storage I use and some ideas I gathered from other teachers I work with at my school. I thought I would share a few tricks that might help. As you start organizing remember that you might need to part with some of you stuff. If you haven’t used it or if it looks out dated it might be time to part with it to make room for the materials you want to use. There is no point in wasting a storage bin/container to put something in you will probably not take out again! We only have so much “prime real-estate” in our classrooms so we don’t want to waste any of it.
Task Card Bins – I found these on amazon and the brand is IRIS. They are a little more expensive than some of my other storage material but for me totally worth it. I use these task cards all the time so I wanted to have easy access to them. I have labeled them and can easily grab them for therapy. I have already filled 3 of these storage bins with different task cards/boards. I just print, laminate, and cut the task cards/boards and each set has its own box. The containers are a perfect size to fit a set of cards. I love that I can see all the different card sets I have and it’s super easy access to them. Check out my previous blog about some of these task cards with the link – Task Cards
Here is the link for this storage system – https://www.amazon.com/IRIS-Extra-Large-Embellishment-Keeper/dp/B00GLQX3CO?th=1
Adapted Book Bins – I have lots of adapted books which I also like to have easy access to them. I bought a set of bin/baskets to store the adapted books in so they would not fall over and I can see what I have. I grouped my books by category. For example, I put all my “Farm” themed adapted books together and my “School Themed” adapted books together. I put all my holiday books together. You can also group them by level. I have seen some teacher keep a different set of adapted books out each month for the students to use during a center time/reading time and then they can rotate the adapted book throughout the year which is a good idea. Since I take mine with me to therapy I have them all in bins in my room and I just pull out the books I need for the week of therapy.
Plastic Shoe Bins – I got some of these plastic shoe bins at the dollar store and they are perfect to store different activities that you don’t know where to put them. I put labels on my mine so again I know what material I have and can go to it when I’m trying to plan my therapy sessions for the week. I used these to store my larger materials that do not fit in those smaller task card bins. For example, my category boards or the Feature/Function boards which I just gave away as a Freebie fit perfectly in these shoe bins. Each bin has material in it which fall within a given category. Some bins might have multiple activities all within the category because it doesn’t take up the whole bin. For example, I have different inferencing cards and I put them all together so I can just pick out the ones I want to use at that time.
Library – I don’t have a student library in my room since I don’t have a classroom but this is the organizational system one of my preschool teacher’s uses and I love it. She organizes her books by category. She puts the category label on the book and then the same label on the basket to store the book. It makes it easy for the students to find the books they want and also clean the books up so they are not disorganized. Each category has its own bin or maybe two bins. This keeps the books organized and easy to access them. You could do the same thing with leveled readers and attach the number or letter on the back of each book and then put those same labels on different bins.
Binders with Labels – For me I also love to put my printed out materials in binders. If I printed off a large resource which I currently am using I put all the sheets in page protectors and store them in a binder. I know binders and page protectors can be expensive but if I don’t print out the resource or stuff it in my file cabinet I forget to use it. For example, the Category Mega pack I created I printed out all the pages and put them in page protectors. Then I can pull out the sheets and Xerox the ones I want to use for therapy or to give for homework. The packet stays organized and I don’t lose any of the pages. Another example is the “Wh” Mega pack Sasha created, I did the same thing so I can easy access it and use it.
PECS pictures/visuals – Here is how I store my PECS pictures. I have 2 large storage containers with movable dividers. I sorted the pictures alphabetically so one container has letters A-K and the other one K-Z which makes it so much easier to find pictures.
I have seen lots of other great organizing systems in classrooms. Again for me the key is I have to have easy access to the material and be able to see it. If you have too much stuff you end up not using any of it. If you have some great materials you really like to use but maybe changed grade levels or have students with different needs one year an idea would be to get a large storage bin or two and store some of those materials in there but create a label to put on the outside so you don’t forget about it the next year or when your students’ needs/skill levels change.
Hopefully this summer will give everyone some time to organize and prepare for the next year….while also taking time to relax and enjoy your time off!!!!