Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mission: Organization... sending out an SOS!

Ok. School starts in a month and I have yet to *really* figure out how I am going to keep my students organized this year because, after an agonizing personal debate and mental pro and con lists... I have switched from desks to tables. Yes, after 5 years of teaching with desks, I am officially using tables! I am really excited, but can't figure out how I am going to keep them organized! Here's the pic I took during summer school...

I do have seat sacks for them to put their notebooks and folders in but what about school supplies? I have these small caddies from Really Good Stuff (and each table has a MATCHING color caddy... which I filled with coordinating colored pencils and scissors for my summer school kids... it was an organizers paradise!),
but they are really small stuff, especially when being shared by several students!... so I'm not sure they are going to work. I looked into a bigger caddy from that catalog, but it was set up for four kids and my tables will have 5-6 at each.

So, what I'm needing from you is an idea of how to keep them organized. Other tablers, how do you do it?! Can you suggest a caddy I can purchase from somewhere?

Up until this point, I've been really un-stressed about it. I keep thinking, "I'll cross that organizational bridge when I get to it" but as the days tick away, my organization OCD is tap tap tapping... and I'm starting to worry! Thanks!!!!!


  1. We have tables at my school, and while there are benefits organizationally it can be difficult.

    Last year I used the caddies and they were okay ( I got mine at lakeshore) They got kind of messy though, and some of my more OCD kids were forever organizing the crayons and pencils to look nice and I just thought it would be nice for them to have there on personal space for their own items. So this year I bought plastic pencil cases for each student at target and they will keep their school supplies in those

    For their journals and things we have white cardboard mailboxes that we purchase at ikea. Hope that helps

  2. One of my teammates has tables. She uses a big solid box--very colorful (a little bigger than a crate---but no holes) She has a table monitor. The table monitor's job is to see that their table is back in order at the end of the day by making sure all crayon boxes are put back, all notebooks are put back, etc. She has 4-6 to a table and the crate sits on top of the tables at night--and then when they are unpacked in the morning, it just rests on the floor (as to not be in the way while she teaches)

  3. I think I have decided to go to tables as well this year (I say I think because I have to figure out if I can scrounge enough tables once I return :)) I have bought the supplies to make every table one of those lazy susan bucket holders that are all over Pinterest. I am hoping that will be just what we need to keep us organized and ready to learn at all times...we'll see :).

  4. A fellow teacher, put table materials in a storage bin and stores somewhere else. So say at the blue table, she has a bin for math journals. She has a bin for writing another one for something else. So each day the table captain gets the needed materials at that time. Each bin or magazine holder has say a blue mark on it.

    Another teacher, gives the kids mailboxes (different from take home) to store their things in there- not neat or efficient.


  5. I have been using tables for years .... and love it. All supplies are community, except for pencils and scissors. I store crayons and colored pencils in tubs the kids bring to their table when we need those supplies. I store glue sticks in pull out plastic drawers. For table supplies, instead of school boxes, I set up plastic glasses, 6 per table in a Lakeshore tub approximately 8x10. Each child has their own plastic colored cup (purchased at Walmart). In each cup, children keep their personal pencils, scissors, erasers, etc. We do not share pencils due to health considerations. These cups were wonderful. My class loved them, they were easy to transport, and took little space compared to an open school box. My teammates loved them too, as I purchased three classroom sets to share. This provides the opportunity to use the school box for special items such as flashcards on a ring, etc. I use numbered stackettes 12345 placed around my room to hold hold home folders, journals, poetry, etc. Then one child from each table will retrieve their supplies for our activity. I love keeping our supplies separate ~ It's easy for me to look through materials and check on progress. I have a numbered mailbox system for daily mail. Our postman passes our the daily mail, as do I. At the end of the day, each child will get their own mail to take home.
    You will love this system!!

  6. I am using tables this year too! I have 2 suggestions. When I taught Kindergarten I used a caddy that was large enough to hold 3 supply boxes standing on end on each side of the caddy so it worked for 6 students at a table. I had a table captain each day who passed out the boxes and then collected them to put them away so they didn't have to all get up at once. This year I am using Jessica Meacham's idea of the small white 3-drawer organizers. Each student will have a drawer and will pull theirs whenever we need them. You can see more about my system at You will figure it are awesome! :)

  7. We have tables in 1st grade. I've done it different ways. For the past two years, I have used chair pockets (I was anti-chair pockets because I didn't like the way they looked...) Now I can't imagine NOT having them! I have each kiddo keep a pencil box inside chair pocket. The pencil box keeps their crayons, glue, a big eraser, and their wallet (kids get Darden Dollars each day). On the table, I have a metal bin/basket from the bathroom section of Target. (They hold up great and do not get all dirty and yucky!) In the bin, I have two colorful pails from the dollar spot and they hold scissors and pencils. That's the only thing we use community now. I really enjoy this way! Hope this helps some!

    Frolicking Through First

  8. I just switched to tables for this year too! I am a bit nervous, but I have two things I am going to do. The first one is my supply storage using clear shoe bins: Community Supply Bins

    And the other one is not my idea...I just found it earlier this summer. I am going to use these racks to hold my students' work baskets (those ones from Really Good Stuff that hold notebooks and paper). The link is here, it is so cool!
    The Pleated Poppy Workbox System

    I'm so happy you have a blog--I've been a longtime admirer of your website. Good luck with your tables :)
    Ladybug's Teacher Files

  9. Wow- you gals are fast! Thanks so much for all the great ideas! My mind is spinning with possibilities!


    Kristen- thanks for the kind words too! :) You're pretty awesome yourself... I was stalking your blog long before I was a blogger myself!

  10. I have used round tables for several years with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. The organization is a hard part of using tables. This is what I did:
    * I have cubbies for the students large things like spiral notebooks. The students also have a supply box that I have for them to use. It's one of those smaller Sterilite boxes. This is where they store their smaller things like pencils, scissors, erasers, etc. Last year, in third grade, I kept the supply of pencils, but when they ran out I would give them about 10 to keep in their small supply box.
    * On their tables, they had a small box with an attached lid for pencils. I also have some baskets that I bought at Target a number of years ago. Each table has one. This is where they put their book bags during the day. At the end of the day, the book bags go in their cubbies. Their supply boxes sit in order on top of the cubbies.
    It did work for me, however, I think now that I'm changing to first grade I may need to make some changes. I'm also being transferred to another school and haven't seen the inside of the school. I don't know if I have tables or desks.

    I hope you figure out a good system for you.


  11. Hey there! In the past I have used shower caddies I found at walmart. They had two large compartments on the side and some smaller ones in the middle. I found some plastic cups to put in the large sections, the kids put their pencils in that. It worked well, if you like the caddy. But, I just thought they were too bulky. Now, I just put a small try on each table for pencils. Everything else is kept in their cubby or as community supplies. I think it helps keep it less messy this way. Hope it helps!

  12. I use tables of 3 or 4 (5 or 6 would be so great, less tables!!) I use the black swivel kind of caddy that I think they have in Really Good Stuff. We keep enough crayons for use, pencils, glue sticks and scissors in there. The scissors are theirs, everything else is community. We also have chair pockets... you can ONLY get the Kangaroo pouch, it's made from denim. I've had mine for 3 years, the first 3 years I had the vinyl ones (those are from Really Good... and they fall apart, rip and can not be cleaned) the Kangaroo ones I just throw in my home washer. As for left overs, I have a small 3 draw chest for all the extra glue sticks, pencils and crayons kids know that when they can't find it in their caddy they go there... funny the link party we did about things I always say here's one for the caddies.... "It is not the wheel of fortune, if you use it that way it'll be gone" and then I give them one of the "boring" ones that you have pictured while the rest of the class keeps there turnable ones.... turnable is 100% the way to go!

  13. I have taught kindergarten for over 20 years and have always used tables. The past 12 years i have done a caddy system or a tub system. The tub held a basket of 6-8 scissors, a basket of 6-8 glue sticks,and a container of 6 - 8 pencils. Each child had a pencil box in which they kept their crayons and they kept that box in their cubbies. Each day a student is assigned the job of being their table helper (they clean it, they pass out the papers, they collect anything that needs to be handed in) I keep journals, math notebooks, and other things on shelves by the color of their group and the students or the helpers must get them and bring them to their tables. Helpers clean up after every activity and if they cannot they have a buddy they can turn their job over to if they are not in the room (like if they are at speech, DIVE reading groups, or have to leave early.)I keep table names very simple by color of fish. I have four groups red fish, yellow fish, green fish and blue fish and we do our rotations during math stations or reading groups by fish colors. The helpers count their job as important as being a line leader or door holder. They love the responsibility and they do a super job (if they don't their group let's them know it.) As a way of giving positive feedback for neatness I will give out a Marlin Merit (our school positive behavior system) that let's them go shopping at the Marlin Mall(a rolling store for our grade level). The whole table earns the merit and they love saving and buying big stuff at the Mall.

  14. Here's a link to a post I did about tables:

  15. Welcome to the blogging world. I love your website...full of ideas! I am going to tables this year too from 10 years of desk. I also am changing from centers to Daily 5. This was my main reason for switching. I am going to have working areas so a community supply at the tables wasn’t going to work for me. I bought small beach baskets. I am not sure if that is what you would call them but they are just small baskets with handles made from plastic. I saw a teacher using them on the daily five website. It fits their writing binders, pencil bags, folders, and their reading books for Daily Five. I like the baskets because they don't tip over! Hope this helps. I hope to post some pics when I can finally get back into my room.
    Happy Blogging!
    First Grade Garden

  16. In K, I used seat sacks as well as individual pencil baskets (I got mine from the dollar store, but they looked like this ). In their baskets each student had 2 pencils, an eraser, crayons, gluestick and anything else they might need. They were responsible for their own supplies and the "extras" were on the shelf for them to get whenever needed. At the end of the day they would put their basket inside of their mailboxes (which housed their folders and paperwork all day) so that the tables were clear and able to be cleaned.

    Good luck!
    Learning in 2nd Grade

  17. You guys are AWESOME! Thank you so so much for all of the wonderful ideas! I found some organizers I like at Lakeshore Learning but they are $30 each... so I may make a Donor's Choose project for them and use one of the fabulous ideas here in the meantime.

    Thank you!!!!!!!


  18. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I wrote the book. Look for one on spelling centers to come out next spring! I am so glad I found your blog. Can you tell me where you got the cute flag graphics? I am redoing my room to polka dots this year in those colors.
    I got napkin and fork holders at cvs to use as caddies! They were on sale and in bright colors.
    Erica Bohrer's First Grade

  19. Erica~ Dreamlike Magic Designs made my blog. She has a shop on Etsy where you can buy her graphics sets. You might check there for some flags!


  20. Welcome to the Dark Side... The Table Side. :)

    After 9 years with tables, I've found the only thing they need on the table is a pail of pencils. I use velcro dots to adhere it to the table and viola! No pail noise throughout the day. All of our other classroom supplies are stored in the front of the room where everyone can get to them.

    Third Grade Bookworm

  21. We use tables... and to be honest, I change my mind about how I feel about them every day! :)

    For the most part, they're great! I put the kids' nametags on the backs of their chairs, so switching spots is no problem anymore! As for supplies, each student has their own pencil/school box to house their supplies (glue stick, expo marker, pencils, box of crayons, scissors) and these stay on the tables almost all day.

    The rest of our supplies (notebooks/folders/journals) get stored in cubbies that are at the front of my room. I call one table team at a time to come get what they need for the next subject and we move right along! Good luck!!

    Here's a link to the cubbies we have:



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