Optimum Organization: It’s All in the Numbers

June 22, 2013

Optimum Organization: It’s All in the Numbers

June 22, 2013

Hi and welcome to another week of Optimum Organization! 
One more day and I am officially on summer vacation! I can’t wait to catch up with everyone and their wonderful ideas for keeping things running smoothly πŸ™‚
Today I wanted to share one of the top organizational methods that has truly made a huge difference in my classroom. It’s neither new or original, as so many teachers have turned to this system over the years. 
But it did take this teacher ’til her 11th year to figure out how useful it was! 
It was numbering my students.
After reading so many great ways of organizing students by numbers, I decided to give it a try last summer. I didn’t realize at the time how much I would end up using this system in class this year! 
Here are some of the ways I’ve use student numbers to keep my class organized this past year (the green links below the pictures will take you to the original posts and free downloads for each):
Number Drawers for Student Materials (original post here)
Numbering and Highlighting Papers (original post here)
Managing Pencils (original post here)
I know we always say this to one another, but isn’t it funny how the littlest thing can make such a big difference in your classroom?
I love the numbering system so much, for so many reasons. Numbers are…
  • Orderly: students can be numbered in alphabetical order (at least, until a new student arrives!). Everything can be kept in numerical order and managed by the students.
    Workbooks sorted by numbers? Not a problem for my class to find their
    books or to put them away.
  • Easy to Remember: all of my students can be assigned a number and remember it with ease, even if they are a newcomer student just learning English. They remember them better than their teacher, in fact! πŸ˜‰
  • Ideal for Management Systems: many of my management systems were ideas that evolved later in the year (The Great Pencil Challenge didn’t come about ’til this spring, for example). Yet the numbers are extremely easy to incorporate into any system you might envision.
  • Eye-Catching: Ok, so this last one sounds a bit flaky, but it’s true! Numbers are lovely design-wise. They don’t take up a lot of space on a label and they look nice and uniform throughout the classroom.
Do you use student numbers in your classroom? How do you use them?


Would you like to link up with Elizabeth and I? If so, please join in on the fun below…


  • Hoots and Hollers June 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your numbering ideas! Have a wonderful weekend! Eye-catching is always important, I think… :0)

    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

  • Debbie Teise June 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I have used numbers that past few years. I use them in the ways you mentioned….but for me it really works when lining them up for bathroom break..I will say line up High to Low or Low to High…line up Willie Nellie-that means mix it up. During Fire Drill it has proven essential. I will even call out odd, even..so we are doing Math and they don't even realize it. when we pair share..I may say #3 and #7 hook up..I think what ever is easiest for you . The kids enjoy it as well. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing.

  • The Wild Rumpus June 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I LOVE numbering. Love.

  • Melissa June 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Numbering has helped with my organization SO much!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  • A Sunny Day in First Grade June 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I number my kiddos too! I use it on their mailboxes and cubbies so I don't have to relabel them every year. They are always so excited to learn their numbers at the beginning of the year πŸ™‚

    A Sunny Day in First Grade

  • Gina Szczodrowski June 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I have ALWAYS used numbers, I don't think I could function without them! We use them for everything. If I am making a list of missing work, I use their numbers instead of their names- faster. I have number cards that are in a pocket chart in random order that shows when it is someone's turn on the computer. Number cards for library checkout. Put the card where the book came from so they know where the book belongs when they finish. Numbers on mailboxes for paper return. We line up in number order ALWAYS. (Of course sometimes some kids have to change places in line bc of behavior.) The list goes on and on.
    Third Grade Tidbits

  • Adventures in Room 204 June 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I use numbers as well and I wouldn't have it any other way! πŸ™‚ Much easier for the kids as well!

    Adventures in Room 204

  • Ms.M from Teachingisagift June 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Not sure if it will make you feel any better but it took me 22 years to do this! DUH! I started doing it this year and it works like MAGIC. I hate trying to alphabetize work and this makes it so much easier. Everything can be organized this way…IN FACT YOU JUST GAVE ME AN IDEA! (Did you hear the sizzle?) I have been using a CAN filled with large popsicle sticks with the student names on them to use for draws etc. BUT if I just numbered them, I could use them again year after year! Thanks for giving me some inspiration! Have a great Saturday…it's rainy and dull in Toronto:(

  • Kelley Cirrito June 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I am so glad you are finally almost done for the summer! I love the idea of numbering items. It is great because you can reuse items each year because you just reassign a student to that number! Whoever came up with this idea many of year ago was a genius! Have a great last couple of days of school!

  • Sara Soucy June 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I learned about using numbers in my classroom when I was student teaching. It saves so much time! I can re-use a lot of materials from the year before since they have numbers on them instead of names. My second graders never forget their numbers. The most important way I use numbers, though, is to line students up during a fire drill. They can easily line themselves up (without talking) and it is super quick and easy to tell who is in line and who is missing.

    Sara πŸ™‚
    Smiling In Second Grade

  • Emily June 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I love numbers too πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting!

  • Jennifer Laffin June 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I also use numbers in my classroom and it is a HUGE time saver! I have kids turn in their homework in "reverse number order" so that when I have them in a pile, they are already in the order of my grade book. When I have to take a quick head count (field trips, fire drills, etc.) I call off numbers & the kids say "here!" Love it!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  • ~Stephanie June 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I couldn't do without my numbers! They make life so much easier, no? πŸ™‚ Thanks for so many opportunities to link up this summer. I can finally get in the act here! πŸ™‚

    Teaching in Room 6

  • Natalies Nook June 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I sort of "dabbled" with the number system this year but I think I really need to commit this coming school year. I love the pencil challenge and I am definitely numbering the pencils!!!!! Last year I tried velcroing the pencils to their desk – I think your way is easier:)
    I have a side question – When I popped over to look at your "Number and Highlight" post I noticed your oval-like labels on your baskets with the subjects. How do you get that more rounded rectangle. The only shape I can seem to find is a rectangle with the corners rounded. I like how the whole end of your rectangle is rounded. Could I say "rounded" any more times…lol!
    Natalies Nook

  • Kelly June 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    I started using numbers about my second or third year of teaching, but it wasn't because of organization. As I was trying to pull the old class name stickers off of the cubbies, I thought about using a number instead. I really don't like sticker residue, it drives me crazy for some reason. After I used the numbers for that, I numbered their journals. that made it easy for any one to put a stray journal back in it's cubbie. That worked so well, I endedup numbering lockers and homework folders. It's a great system!

    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  • Erica June 22, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    I numbered my students the last two years, and it has been awesome. I love the idea of numbering their pencils, though- I think I will definitely do this next year, because I am tired of students saying "I don't have a pencil" when there were just 6 pencils at their table during the last activity! I also love that I don't have to re-label stuff- I did it once, and now I can use it again and again. Saves time and money!

    Blooming In First

  • Jill June 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I didn't start numbering until last year, my 20th year and I thought why didn't I do this sooner. I go reverse abc order because as a child with a letter late in the alphabet I got tired of being one of the last aaaaalllllllllll the time.

  • Comincioli June 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I have used numbers for many years and I LOVE it!! It makes things so much easier!! We have everything numbered – lockers, mailboxes, book bags, name tags, etc. I love your idea of the great pencil challenge and that is something I will do for sure with my 2nd graders next year!! They were constantly losing pencils last year and this way we will know who's pencil is the one we find on the floor on cabinet. Thanks for the idea!!

    Table Talk with C & C

  • Natalie June 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I took to numbering pencils this year, too! I was so tired of them disappearing all the time. It helped tremendously!

    Teachery Tidbits

  • Elizabeth S. June 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Using numbers have saved me so much time! I love your last reason. It does make things look cohesive and pretty!
    Fun in Room 4B

  • Love to Learn June 23, 2013 at 3:11 am

    I have seen this over and over again in the blog world – it definitely looks like something I will have to keep in mind. Thanks for the tip!

    Love to Learn

  • Foxwell Forest June 23, 2013 at 3:13 am

    I love using student numbers and I love everything about this linky party!! Just linked up for the first time and am excited to link up again in the weeks ahead!

    Thanks so much!
    First Grade in Foxwell Forest

  • Teaching Fabulous Firsties! June 23, 2013 at 4:29 am

    Kristen, I loved your numbering pencil idea and I did that towards the end of the year. I number lots of other things, but hadn't tried that. I also have their numbers on their book tubs, their mailboxes, their "Take Home" folders, and on their hooks in the closet area. It is great for when a child has gotten sick and I have to round up their belongings so they can go home–no guessing which backpack and coat is theirs. I also labeled their chairs so nobody says, "Someone stole my chair!" πŸ™‚
    β™₯Teaching Fabulous Firsties!β™₯

  • Lizzy @ The Teacher Chick June 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Agreed…couldn't survive without numbering everything! It's funny how attached they get to their number too! When we get a new student, some students get shuffled to a new number to keep the list in ABC order. That takes a few days for everyone to get used to!
    The Teacher Chick

  • Julie Marciniak June 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Kristen!
    Great post on NUMBERING! I agree that I would be a LOST little puppy without this vital system in my classroom. Just the fact that it saves so much time "recreating" labels and materials from year to year. We can keep the same set of numbers EVERY year and it is so easy-peasy to get the kids on board too! Thanks for hosting!!
    Ms. Marciniak's First Grade Critter Cafe

  • Ms. Reidy June 23, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I think numbers are my number one favorite organizing tool! I use them for many of the same things you mentioned, plus I keep folder system for each student to hold notes, conference materials and other goodies that I number also. I makes it easy to use again and again, plus it helps with confidentiality too. I can have multiple folders out to go over, but no one besides the students and myself knows who they belong too.
    Thanks for hosting!
    On the Trail of Learning

  • Lou Bennet June 23, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Great idea, can't wait to try this next year. Any tips about how to do this when you have some different children for maths and literacy?


  • The Wild Rumpus June 23, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    & btw–happy almost last day! You deserve it πŸ™‚ My last day with kids is tomorrow, and then we have 2 teacher days before the official start of summer.

  • Libby June 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Kristen!
    Thanks for your post, I use numbers, but just for homework and cubbies. I just remembered my college days, where my name was my social security number and it deterred me from doing much with numbers. But your post and your followers' comments are so full of wonderful ideas that I can't wait to use them!
    Thanks πŸ™‚
    First Grade Dual

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