Learn More

40 Hour Workweek

Classroom Management   |   Feb 13, 2014

5 clever ways to store and organize student materials

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

5 clever ways to store and organize student materials

By Angela Watson

I’m always amazed at all the different systems teachers create to help their students organize materials. I see so many great ideas passed around in the Encouraging Teachers Facebook group that I asked to share a few of them here.


Katie T uses magazine storage containers as kids’ work buckets. Students store iPads, head phones, and work folders inside and keep the containers on their tables during work time. A photo of the student is attached to the front with Velcro to show who it belongs to.


Mrs. Nelson uses crates as student self-storage for her middle and high school students. Bonus: she reports that students have stopped picking up and tilting their desks, and she’s only had to reset desks once since she put the crates on. Mrs. Nelson found the milk crates for free and spent $2 on the zip ties. There is one crate for each student. Desks used multiple times a day are shared between a middle schooler and a high schooler: that way they don’t have any incentive to go through one another’s things in the crate because their materials are different.


Tiffany S. uses plastic drawers to store and organize markers, crayons, pencils, highlighters, and scissors. I could envision using this system in many different ways.  It could be great for distributing materials: a classroom helper could grab the bin of scissors and pass one pair out to each student, then walk around and use the same bin to collect the materials again. Separating the markers by color can be useful, too. If a student’s marker runs out of ink, you can quickly replace just the one marker instead of waiting and replacing the entire pack. Whenever loose supplies are found on the floor, it’s easy to see where they should be returned to.


Tonya L. has a great idea for teachers who don’t have a full class set of iPads and therefore won’t be provided with a storage/charging station. She uses an inexpensive Sterilite desk caddy to store the 3 iPads she has for her class. She runs the power cords out the back and they plug into a power strip behind the caddy. When kids put the iPads back, they plug them in, which means they are always charged!


Michelle S. bought rolling caddies from Walmart to organize the materials for each group of students. The top drawer of the rolling caddies is for lined notebook paper; the second is for individual whiteboards, markers, and erasers; the third holds reference books and math manipulatives; and the bottom drawer is the garbage drawer that is dumped at the end of each day. No more up-and-down to the waste basket a million times a day!

 How do you store and organize student’s papers and supplies?

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela is a National Board Certified educator with 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach. She started this website in 2003, and now serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Truth for Teachers...
Browse Articles by Angela


  1. Thanks for the ideas. I really dig that milk crate idea, but at the same time I know many teachers have enough difficulty getting just the desks to fit in their rooms, and the aisle space wouldn’t be there to spare.

    One super simple time saver I’ve found is having students slide a clipboard under their chairs (most desks have a tiny gap between the actual plastic seat and the leg assembly). That way when it’s time to move about for paired or group work, students grab them and go; the fact that the boards are numbered gets them back into place every time.

  2. Angela,
    Thanks for all of the great ideas, I always love your blog! I was wondering if you knew what Michelle S. uses on the bottom of her chairs (in the photo where you are spotlighting her rolling caddies). I have been looking for a solution for quiet chairs — something other than tennis balls. It looks like she may have done something creative here. Any idea what?
    Thanks and keep the inspiration coming!
    –Kristin Bagley
    Grade 3 ESL Teacher, Providence, RI

    1. Kristin – I don’t know for sure but it looks like pieces of felt rubber banded to the bottomof the feet? Seems like a cheap and easy fix!

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!