Get Everything in Order…Before They Even Arrive

July 26, 2015

Get Everything in Order…Before They Even Arrive

July 26, 2015
I am beyond excited to write this today! I am joining an inspiring group
of upper-elementary friends to share a Back to School Survival
Guide. And it is chock-full of tips and resources to help you
prepare for a brand new year!

I’m hoping to provide some helpful hints you can use, well before your students arrive. I’m also hoping you will be able to share your tips at the end of this post as well, so we can compile a huge list of ideas together!

One of the most important ways I get ready for each new school year is to have everything in order before my students arrive. I realize that sounds fairly obvious…but the fact of the matter is, I don’t always have a finalized class list until that first day of school.

And more times than not, a new student or two shows up unexpectedly. How can I set up a well-organized classroom with all this unknown?

Not always having a class list can put things on hold. And I hate to be flapping around the room grabbing materials for the new students who arrive two days into the school year. I want to be as ready for them as I possibly can so I can welcome them warmly. So I prep everything I possibly can in advance…here are my tried-and-true tips for doing so…
Student Name Plates

I am just a little Type-A with how things should look. Have you noticed this? 😉 But I’ve learned to let a few things go for the sake of preparation. For my student name plates, I would really love to have them printed out with a great font. To be ready for a new school year as soon as possible, I print and laminate them ahead of time, during the summer break. Then, once I have my class list, I write the students’ names with Sharpies. In order to keep the names from getting erased over time, I use a piece of clear packing tape over the name.

(click here to download this name plate)
Student Materials

Since my students sit together at tables, I like to have materials ready to go for each group, right from day one. One of the best tools for this has been my Student Toolboxes. These toolboxes house all of our community supplies in an organized fashion and are perfect in case students are unable to bring some of these supplies to school.

The toolboxes are also great places to store a folder on back. These are called backpack folders and are top-loading. I attach them with Velcro and they are the PERFECT place to hold papers for the morning, or even different parts of the day. Nothing makes me feel more prepared than having all of my student papers for the morning already passed out into these folders, ready to go. I use this method from day one so I can hit the ground running, even if I have extra students arriving:

(click here to download these table signs)
Numbering the Classroom
This is one of the most important ways I get my ENTIRE classroom in order, well in advance. Numbering students and tables is something I have done for many years now…and I find that I incorporate it more and more into all areas of my room over time because it is so helpful in managing all materials.

Numbers for Group Materials
As you read above, my students sit at tables and are numbered accordingly. We have seven tables and I use numbers to keep all group supplies organized. I number any supply caddies (we use these for art materials):

as well as textbooks for each group. I store them in bins like these (they are the new black ones from Really Good Stuff…squee!). This makes it easy for a student to grab three at a time for the classmates at their table:
I also use group numbers for other supplies, such as science experiments. This summer, I have been compiling many of the basic materials we use in all experiments in those large Ziploc bags (this one is a work in progress). I use labels with corresponding clipart to make things clear, as half my class is comprised of newcomer English Language Learners…plus it’s helpful for mainstream students as well:
Numbers for Reading Materials
Using student numbers also helps me get things in order for all of my reading materials, ahead of a new school year. Just as in the science supplies, I like to set up reading bags. I use coordinating stickers for these because they are fast…just slap a  sticker on  (ok, place it carefully so it looks perfect!) and cover with a bit of packing tape for longevity:

I like to use the same stickers to number my sets of class novels, for our read alouds:
Numbers for Individual Materials
If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll know I am a huge fan of those Sterilite drawers. We use the extra-wide ones meant for scrapbook materials. Each of my students has two drawers to store their supplies:
One drawer is for math, science, and social studies materials. The second drawer is for reading and writing. I have used a variety of designs for labels over the years, but ALWAYS the same size and layout because it works. The numbers are easy to read from across the room and help my students keep things exactly where they should be.
Everything stored in these drawers has the student’s number as well. Math notebooks have a number sticker:
 All reading and writing materials are stickered as well:

I fill all of my student drawers with these materials, ready to go, well in advance of a new school year. This is one major thing that is already done, even before I have a class list. I also stock enough drawers to be planned ahead for any new arrivals…since I have students enter throughout the school year (as I know many of you do as well!).

Numbers for Student Checklists

I am a big fan of checklists. I like to keep track of everything, from taking turns on alternative seating, to which students have passed in a permission slip, to homework checks, and so on. 
I get these checklists ready ahead of time, with the numbers already in place. As soon as I get my class list, I enter the names of my students and I am ready for a year of organization!

I hope these tips will help you with your preparations for a new year, so everything can be put into the right place, as soon as  your students arrive….
If you’d like to try these methods to get your entire classroom numbered and organized, I have all of the number labels above (and a lot more) available in this resource. It has over 1,900 pages of labels in different shapes, sizes, colors, as well as editable checklists. And the best part? Student Number Labels has a  TON of techy shortcuts to help you navigate right to the exact labels you need to print. Please click the image below to learn more:


And there’s more…a TON more! Please be sure to stop by these incredible blogs to read their Back to School Survival Tips…just navigate the icons to get you on your way. You can also enter their giveaways for more chances to win those TpT gift cards:

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