Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Storage for Center Activities

I am in organization mode the last six weeks of school every year.  I like to reorganize my room and set things up the way I want it next year.  Even though we have to box up everything over the summer, at least I have an idea and the pictures to help me assemble my classroom for next year.

I hated my old way of organizing my centers (which can be viewed in an earlier post). I wanted my activities easily accessible and quick to view at a moments notice.

I purchased the shoe bins at Walmart for a dollar and spray painted the tubs' lid red for Math and blue for ELA.
I labeled each tub with the skill and then listed the activities that were in that tub.  There are about 3-4 activities in each tub.  If I were to do this all over again, I would just type the skill, laminate the cards, and then with permanent marker write the activities in each tub because sometimes I add a new activity to the tub.  If it does change you can always erase the permanent marker with a Magic Eraser.  It comes right off!  (So, much for permanent...huh)  Each label has a red star that means, "Don't touch" (for the kiddos)
I got smart and applied my label idea to my ELA tubs (since I did these second).  Each label just has the skill, I still need to write with permanent marker the activities in each tub.  The red star on the label means, "Don't touch" (for the kiddos)
These ELA activities are strictly my Treasures activities.  Treasures is our reading adoption.   Each tub has a red dot on the label that means, "Stop, don't touch" (for the kiddos)
Spray painted the lids and basket (which was a purple color, not the scheme of my room)
I used spray paint for plastic.  
Since I was using a large portion of my shelving for my center activities, I needed more shelving.  Instead of buying a bookshelf (that will fall apart in a year), I decided to make my own out of cement blocks and wood.  I can easily store this over the summer by taking it apart (unlike other bookshelves I have in my room). When I move schools, cities, states, I can leave behind my cement blocks and just take the wood. Moving from Texas to Louisiana, the bulky bookshelves were a hassle to move.       
The tubs with yellow lids have scissors, highlighters, and Magic Erasers.  These used to be behind my desk, but I like that they are easily accessible and I don't have to stop my teaching just to get to them.  My white tubs have my math manipulatives.  I am thinking about spray painting them red to go along with my color coding theme.  In my apple basket I have my dry erase markers, which I love that are by my dry erase board.  I have "Star Pencils" for kids who are amazing, on top of my stereo is a basket with stickers and then my GONG.  Which my mom got for me because we couldn't stop playing with it at Lakeshore.  
Primer on wood
Working hard after hours!
I only painted the sides that you would be able to see.  I bought wooden stars and tape that will stick to cement to decorate the blocks with.  Maybe I will do that next year.


  1. Wow, is your school open on the weekend?

    Primary Graffiti

  2. I wish, it would have made this whole project ALOT easier. If you are cool with the custodians, in the summer we can come and work in our rooms (after the custodians are done cleaning them).

  3. Your organization is amazing! I am having the hardest time keeping my centers organized this year bc my room is sooo small! I am hoping I get a larger room next year and then I'm totally organizing! And I love the cement block shelves!!!!! You are awesome!!!


  4. I love your bookcase idea! One question, though--do the shelves move/come apart easily if the kids push or lean on them?

  5. Thanks guys! No, this shelf is actually more sturdy then my regular bookshelves. Cement blocks weigh a good amount, so that bookshelf instant going anywhere. At first, I was worried about the top shelf (since it doesn't have a cement block to weigh it down) but it hasn't budged an inch.

  6. Wow! You are really in the mode!! I wish I had that kind of steam!! I cleaned out my closet today because I couldn't find any sweat pants! Ha!
    All these exclamation marks are a bit of an over kill. :)
    I got the hooks at Staples or Hobby Lobby. I think I went safe and got the heavier weight. My hooks have held strong. I've had a couple come off but I think little finger nails were the real blame. I'm glad I could help.

    Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher

  7. Your organization is inspiring! I never thought to spray paint the lids to my many shoe box containers.

  8. Spray paint white lids, who knew?! I became your newest follower after you cement block shelf idea, thanks! :)

  9. I am sitting here in awe! You blog is amazing and organizational skills are something to be envied!

    Please visit my blog and consider following me

  10. Love the spray painting, like everyone else! :-) Something so simple, yet I never thought of it! Thanks for sharing!

  11. I'm in love with this cement block shelf idea! I just saw it on pinterest and to immediately find the source! Did the cinder blocks absorb a lot of paint? Or was 1 gallon of paint enough for the whole project?

    Where did you find the plastic spray paint? Believe it or not I've had a tough time finding it!

    Creating & Teaching

  12. Surprisingly, I only did 2 coats of paint on the cinderblocks. I purchased a full gallon, however, still have 1/2 a can left. This year I put stars on it to add some character.

    The plastic spray paint was purchased at WalMart. It is right next to the regular spray paint; it just says you can spray it on plastic.

    Thanks! Hope this helps.

  13. I am a new follower! I love your step-by-step pictures of the painting. I had no idea that plastic could be spray-painted. I just added another thing on my to-do list! Love your blog!

  14. I loved your ideas!!! I've used the cinder block shelves myself....but never thought of painting them. (This is moment I go duh!!) What kind of wood did you use for the shelves? They are so straight. The wood I used would not lay flat...and therefore drives me nuts. I've also used a door on top on 2-drawer filing cabinets as a desk and then used smaller bricks and wood for shelving on the desk. Thanks again for such a great post!

  15. What Centers or activities do you have in each bucket. I will teach Dual Language 50/50 1st grade next school year. I am trying to borrow ideas to ease my first official teaching year! Thanks
    -Gisel Barrett

  16. What size cinder blocks did you use? Did you buy them at a home improvement store or acquire them for free? Also, what kind of paint did you use, and what size plywood? Thanks!

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