Teachers spend a lot of dollars, hours, and sweat equity procuring resources for their classrooms. Whether it’s crafting a new learning station, bartering for goods, or browsing resale shops and sites for that just right element to enhance learning, the gathering of supplies can be a frequent and exhausting undertaking. With many of said goods being of the non-consumable variety, allocating the space for all of these learning treasures can begin to pose a logistical issue.
While every item may not be needed every day, teachers still have the task of housing all the necessary wares for the time when their use is needed. There are certainly some classrooms that could use a good purge; that unit from 10 years ago that could possibly be used again has moved beyond the someday window of reuse. When the practical stockpile is garnered, it’s time to find the right storage places to house all these materials.
Keeping the ease of accessibility and the functionality of design in mind, these are some great solutions for organizing the classroom clutter and reclaiming more space for learning to unfold.
With seating already being a necessity within classroom design, adding some storage to seating options is a great way to utilize space. The multi-functionality found in flexible seating is a perfect fit for this. Some ideas include:
- Storage benches– Low benches with open cubbies make for great places to store supplies in cloth bins or crates. Students can sit on the bench or on the floor using the bench as a workspace, and teachers can label and store in the openings.
- Buckets and Crates– Our Make this a DIY Summer series shared the easy repurposing of 5-gallon buckets and crates for seating with storage. These flexible seating options also make for quick rearrangement and can add a dash of color or pattern to the aesthetics.
- Upcycled Tires– Nothing says learning environment like some old tires, but with a little elbow grease, paint, and a cushion, these seats can round out your storage solutions. By adding a cover to each side of the opening, lots of space for removing clutter becomes available. Two popular methods for tire transformation are shared in Part One of our DIY series, Creative Seating Options for the Classroom.
- Under Chair Baskets– A basket and a zip tie go a long way for clearing the clutter, especially in classrooms where students are sharing table space.
- Chair Pockets– While this isn’t a long-term storage solution, it is an excellent way to keep class reading materials tucked away until needed. These seat pockets can be of the DIY variety like the ideas shared in our Engaging Reading Spaces, or storage pockets can be purchased.
Accessibility and mobility go hand-in-hand. Even the most amazing resources won’t meet their full potential of usage if they are buried too deeply and become cumbersome to extricate. Mobile storage also allows teachers to easily share resources between multiple classrooms and learning spaces making the budget much easier to maintain.
- StorSystem Mobile Series- The durability and convenience of these mobile carts make them a great way to store a variety of materials and an easily accessible resource center for student usage. The StorSystem carts come in wide and slim versions with removable racks to allow this GEI endorsed product to offer great functionality.
- Mobile Bin Organizer– For teachers that use a lot of manipulatives and hands-on supplies, putting a typical bin organizer on wheels is a huge bonus for adding mobility and the ability to share materials with colleagues. This two-sided organizer allows for only certain materials to be showcased at a time, and/or it can act as a divider between stations/activities.
- Rolling Storage Carts– Rather than students clambering into different areas for supplies, the necessary supplies can be parked in close proximity. These affordable 3-tiered carts could be used as mobile supply stations for applicable lessons and/or group activities.
- Mobile Bookshelves– Make that book nook mobile and easily share reading materials with other teachers. Rolling bookshelves put literacy on wheels.
- Wheeled Storage Totes– It can be hard to find a spot for everything in the classroom, so having wheeled storage totes on hand can help declutter spaces. While the wheeled totes are more of an initial expense, they make accessing and moving materials much simpler. Depending on the school design, these may even be able to be housed somewhere outside of the classroom, and then easily rolled in when needed.
Classroom clutter can be both unsightly and disruptive to a learning environment. Finding space for all of the tools of learning can be a lot easier with the right storage solutions. Regardless of the storage method(s) selected, it’s always important to label bins, boxes, drawers, totes, etc. with the supplies they contain. Nothing is worse than searching through every container for a single item. By decluttering and organizing, teachers can make materials more accessible and focus more time on learning.