Sunday, August 28, 2011

Organization Tip: Numbering Student Supplies

Thanks to Hurricane Irene, I got a ton of stuff done for school this weekend.

Actually, it wasn't so much Hurricane Irene as it was the hype surrounding the possibility of her blowing through these here parts that motivated me to chip away at the 'ole to do list.

I'll wave my freak flag high and proud and admit to you all that I actually made TWO to do lists. We had the regular weekend to do list and the "things I can do in the event that we lose electricity and/or internet to do list." That is how much I love me some list-making. Anyhow, I took on some of the "no power needed" tasks which I had been putting off because they lack a component of fun.

Although mundane and over the top, I labeled all of my student supplies.

I usually do individual supplies.

Last year I did community supplies.

And I hated it.

Yes, I know "hate" is a strong word, but that's how much I loathed it. In fact, I didn't just hate it. I HATED it!!!! (See that. All caps, with bold font, AND an few exclamation points. That's how I felt about community supplies.)

My friends just didn't care for the supplies the way that they do when they are their very own. Glue sticks were dried out. Crayons were peeled and broken. Colored pencils were sharpened down to a nub. It gave me hives.

This year I am back to the individual supply boxes. There are, however, downfalls that come with having individual supplies. One of which is the petty arguments over who owns what. You've seen it. Two friends bickering because they can't determine who owns the red colored pencil that is 3/8 of an inch longer than the other one. It's bigger and therefore perceived as better and that means they both want it. Which also means you'll need to referee.

So to eliminate that problem. Along with the problem of lost supplies. I label them.

I know what you are thinking...No brainer, right?

Well, I go a step further and label all parts. Instead of just writing a name/number on the box of markers, I write it on each marker AND cap. I also write it on the pencils AND the erasers. I write it on the watercolors AND the brushes. I label the base of the glue stick and the tube which it slides into.

I know what you are thinking. Go ahead and say it. "OCD much?"

I realize it takes anal retentive to a whole new level, BUT there is never a second of time in class wasted mediating an argument over who a crayon belongs to. I never have to pick up the cap of a marker and wonder who will be sobbing because their blue crayola is all dried out the next time we do a project. It's definitely time well spent.

Anytime you can find a way to proactively make your classroom run more efficiently, I feel it is worth putting forth the effort. Our days are so short. We simply don't have time for distractions.

With my OCD labeling, I find that kids don't spend time off task mindlessly peeling crayons or doing that annoying drill a hole in the eraser with a pencil thing because they are accountable for their belongings. It ensures that each child is prepared for each project and not waiting for a tablemate to finish up using a gluestick.

It also makes me happy knowing that those little ones who get giddy over pristine school supplies the same way that I do are able to enjoy a box of items in tip top shape even when spring rolls around.

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  1. OMG I am an idiot for not thinking of that before! I get so annoyed when markers and pencils go missing! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this idea! I will totally be doing this...

  2. You are cracking me up! I agree with you on the community supply issue. It never worked for me. Kids would mix up the markers and put a red Table 2 marker in the Table 1 bin and so forth...One thing I did with individual supplies is have what I call a "spare parts" bag. Everyone gets a ziploc with their name on it on day 1 and they put all of their extra pencils, sharpies, dry erase and pencil caps. It helps keep the clutter out of pencil box. I store the spare parts bag in a tub. When the bag runs low I send it home with a note about what to refill! I also have the kids label their own stuff with their class number on Day 1...(2nd and 3rd gradersO). Good luck with your new system.
    The Write Handed Teacher

  3. I also HATED community supplies! What a mess! Things were broken frequently with no suspects to pinpoint. They were left messy and then there was always one HUGE flock of traffic to get the one item!! ARGH! NEVER. AGAIN.

    I also now use student numbers and I'll NEVER go back. (Great minds think alike.)

    ~Janis @ Caffeinated Conclusions

  4. Love the idea of labeling ALL parts with a number. I have always written their names on glue sticks and lids, ... and it takes forever. Thanks for sharing!


  5. I have found someone just like me!!!! Hooray!!!! :) :) :) I do all of that, too. It's fabulous. This year, I had my husband use an engraver tool to engrave numbers on the metal AND plastic part of my student scissors. Love!!! I also buy the colorful, extra large rubberbands from Staples to connect my desks together. I can't stand when the table group gets all crooked or desks have separated from each other. I constantly say, "No cracks!" It takes time to crawl under the tables in the beginning of the year and bind them together, but once in place, you are good to go. :)
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  6. LOL re: your freak flag for 2 to-do lists! crackin' me up! great idea! i have always used some community supplies, some individual supplies, and i just can't commit to going all individual. but i may have to next year--this is great! although--i think i AM going to do this for their glue sticks!! great idea.

  7. I print small address labels with each students first and last name (about 6-10) for each student and tape them to folders, crayon boxes, workbooks, etc. It works better and lasts longer than Sharpies for my Fifth graders. I also use garage sale dot stickers to color code student supplies. Lots of clear packing tape!!!

  8. Wow! Why didn't I think of this? AWESOME!!!!
    Lupe P.

  9. Love this idea! I, too, haven't had much success with community, I have a question: Do you buy all the individual supplies or do you have students bring them in?

    1. My school follows the Responsive Classroom approach which encourages the use of community supplies. We spend the first few days/weeks (and revisit when needed) discussing/modeling/practicing the appropriate way to care for the classroom supplies. With a few exceptions here and there throughout the year, this method is very effective. Teachers communicate the notion that these supplies are super important tools for our learning. I commend and respect your patience and dedicated, but for those teachers who would like an alternative approach, I highly recommend reading literature based of the Responsive Classroom approach to classroom supplies.


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