Saturday, October 25, 2014

Organizing October {Weekend Warrior Style}

This month's Weekend Warrior theme is Organization....
Well, let me start by saying I am not the best at organizing- but that being said, having certain underlying systems in place allows me to perhaps on a day to day basis be a little last minute.

This filing system has worked well for me in both kindergarten and first grade... and yes, during my upper elementary days I did things a bit differently.

Let me start by saying some of these files aren't pretty. Oh no...I warn you now, this isn't a pristine, super neat system. It is "organized" and it does work for me.... and it is a little messy. Just keepin' it real :) Keep in mind this is Year 16 for me.... and that equals a ton of stuff.

I have a two drawers to a filing cabinet devoted to monthly or theme files.
crayons and whimsy filing organization
I have decided this picture doesn't really show you what I want it to. Things are color coded by month. September has a few colors going on {hence why this is a bad picture} but October is all orange. It seems early in the year monthly works... but later that isn't the case. So in the spring I have a color for "Insects" and another for "Zoo" or whatever else I may teach.

Space is tight so there is no room for large items or extra copies. I avoid extra copies like the plague. Don't make that many extra anyway...right? Just save paper...besides I don't know about you, but our budget is tight.

I know, I used to have the "just in case" attitude too, but I don't. For me a class set equals 28....26 kids plus two more and that is it. I usually use one to model and then I have just one extra. They can use an eraser to fix any mistakes.

I used to have a random ten of this activity and eight of that.... but then what? When the next year  arrives I may not even use the thing.... and if I do, I usually just copy what I need without counting what is leftover in the file leading to EVEN more excess and thicker files that just won't fit. Don't do it!

Also, for anything that I do as substantial unit I have a "Miscellaneous" file...always.

crayons and whimsy filing organization
The main reason is because I may download a freebie or get another new activity from a coworker and I don't have time to be making new files every second. Plus, maybe I am not going to really use it. If it ends up being a part of my program then it will earn its own file the following year.

I also try to follow the same rule of thumb as I do in my closet. If I haven't used the file in two years it is out....okay maybe three years at the most. But why save it? In this day and age there are so many wonderful, engaging lessons out there- and as I add to my program I need to get rid of too! And again, if you are in your first 5 years you may have the space and luxury to just hang on to it... let me tell you that is a dangerous habit and will haunt you at year 16 like me.

 Separately.... I have another filing cabinet with files that are skill based:
crayons and whimsy filing organization alphabet
So in kinder my alphabet files are used daily. I know... I need to deal with these.... they are a mess. The bottom picture shows you a snip it of what is inside them.

I highly suggest you don't put the files in the order you teach them. Right now I follow the Houghton Mifflin letter order and in the past I have used the one suggested by Handwriting without Tears...or whoever. That will change - but alphabetical order won't... also a sub or volunteer may not know the order you cover them, but they know the alphabet {hopefully!.}

I used to include other things in these files- for example, I traditionally cover M when we are doing monsters so I have a few monster based activities. In the past this would possibly end up in the letter file.... If their purpose is practicing the M sound then they go in the M file, but if it is a seasonal monster activity it goes in seasonal file.

When I taught first I also had a file of every vowel combination like "oi" or "ay" etc.

Lastly, I have boxes for big stuff.
crayons and whimsy filing organization
I keep them under a table. There are ALWAYS two of them under there. I just had September and October under there..... then just last week I just swapped it out and have October and November under the table.

Nothing is worse than packing up the September box on October 1st and then finding more things to put in there. So the previous month stays out until about half way through the following month.

I am lucky to now be able to house all the boxes in my classroom, but in the past these were in my garage at home... not my most favorite plan, but it worked.

So here is an arial shot of what is in there:
crayons and whimsy filing organization

We got big stuff.....stuff I buy at the Target Dollar Spot..... samples, like my cornucopia craft that I just don't want to get pressed down in a filing cabinet.

Buried under this all are some large envelopes. Some of my "not file friendly" things are in a big envelope and it lives in the box- such as my Turkey Hats-
crayons and whimsy filing organization turkey hat
This is an example of a time that I do have lots of extras {despite what I said above... I never copy extras, but I do cut extras for projects both so they can have enough choice in color and to account for mistakes....cutting mistakes require a new piece as opposed to writing mistakes that require only an eraser}

So lastly, I will show you my math drawer - that also needs some help. Hey I warned you... I am not the neatest so I apologize if you want super perfect files.

Math is a by concept kinda gig.

Again, don't file by chapter of your current math series...these come and go. If you need to you could have a section of files devoted to the chapters of your current adopted program, but your main files for centers should be by concept. If you are looking for something you will know what skill it covers, but you may not remember if that is chapter 10 or 12!
crayons and whimsy filing organization
So I am aware that time is no longer a kindergarten math standard and technically patterning isn't found in the common core, but that is another conversation. Point is... these need some updating as we make the common core transition.

The tags I got from someone out there in the blogging world...but I can't remember was about three years ago. I am about to make new ones that are Common Core aligned and will share them with you. I just printed them out and glued them on construction paper.

I keep all my math manipulatives in another cupboard. Obviously things like unifix cubes and pattern blocks are out where the kids can get to them. But other things such as number flash cards or dice in bottles are in one cupboard FULL of all math stuff. If a math center requires a certain spinner or dice it is filed with the game {I un-tape the dice to be flat in the file}

And I think that is a wrap....doesn't cover it a lll... that would be impossible, but you get the general idea, I hope!

Check out some of the tips of my Weekend Warrior friends and stop by tomorrow for some more organizing ideas!


  1. I am a "two tubs at a time" kind of girl too! Some of my monthly thematic resources are just too big for drawers! Thanks for "keeping it real" in your post! I struggle to stay organized, and am always grateful for new and easy suggestions!
    Stories and Songs in Second

  2. Thanks so much for these great organizing tips. I save only one master now or just the cover page from any item I have purchased because papers are taking over the room! Your things are filed away very nicely in a way that makes total sense to me! The secret is knowing where to find it all and who has time to make everything Pinterest worthy? We are busy teaching! :)
    Creative Lesson Cafe

  3. Girrrl! I am coming over to purge some stuff for you ;) ;)