Have you seen the movie, “ET”? I love the scene when ET hides in the closet amid all the stuffed animals, acting as one of the stuffed toys. The closet is a fun mess!!!!
I wish I had unlimited storage in my classroom, space where I could easily place everything I needed nice and neatly with no concern, everything would come tumbling out of I opened the door. My classroom closet is just like the ET closet: I am literally nervous to open it, knowing there could be any combination of posters and anchor charts, yardsticks, sweaters tumbling out. I choose to keep it closed.
Just like the closet, my students need easily accessible storage space. The kind of storage space that won’t spill open its contents when opened, the kind that can be moved around the room at any moment, the kind that looks nice and can suit multiple purposes. I don’t need another closet for supplies. I need functional, nice-looking, and easily accessible storage. Student storage. Teacher-supplies storage. Materials /projects storage.
When I transitioned to flexible seating, I paid as much attention to storage as I did the flexible seating options.
Cubbies were a must: cubbies with plenty of storage bins, multiple sizes, accessible yet easily closed off so as not to provide what I refer to as “visual pollution”.
I had the good fortune of working with a company named MeTEOR Education. If you can afford or are given funds to completely change your room, I strongly suggest MeTEOR. They are fantastic: professional, passionate, and they’ll support you every step of the way in your process!
I knew my classroom storage carts had to have all of the tasks I mentioned above. I needed extra storage space to accommodate new students’ materials and any new supplies or projects as the year went on. In the photo, you will see several movable carts. One is purple and one is blue, the other is apple green. These are on wheels with colored doors that close and lock. I have an additional two open-shelf storage carts. The closed carts hold 40 bins each. I use these for students’ personal supplies. Each bin is numbered. I house my homeroom’s bins in one cubby and the two other classes’ bins in the green and blue cart. Yes, I teach Math to three fifth-grade classes of 28-32 students in each room.
I use the carts ALL.THE.TIME.
The backs of the carts I’ll use to place posters, directional charts, student work. I’ll place carts back to back or in “L” shaped configurations for cozy corners or room separators (even in the middle of the room! Carts are terrific as physical desks to stand and work at!
Think carts when you remove desks and need storage. Think doors on the carts as they hide the “messiness” of supplies. My open carts house bins with labeled supplies. I’ll place them with the supplies facing away from the visual line-of-sight. The backs serve as bulletin boards for hanging charts and such. Many times I will leave the backs empty just to see the pretty colors! The less the visual clutter, the better!
The shelves you see here are ones in my third classroom transformation. My principal purchased two rolling carts with cubbies from one of the major library furniture companies: I believe it was DEMCO. I looked through the thick catalogs in the front office to find the ones I wanted. Each cubby housed 0 slots with matching bins. You can see in the photo some students didn’t use their bins. I used those for extra storage of class community supplies, placed elsewhere in the room. Students learned to SIMPLIFY their materials! We don’t need 6 spirals and folders! What you see are the Math workbooks in their slots, a spiral, and possibly 2 folders. Pencil pouches were easier to store than the plastic boxes. Many students preferred simplifying their materials! They didn’t like having so many materials to keep track of. I agree with them! SImplify the class supply list whenever possible.
These storage carts are on wheels and we moved them many many times to suit our purposes: as dividers, as wall space on the back, as writing surfaces, as science experiment surfaces. Many purposes.
So think movable carts. Think multi-uses. Think functional as space dividers.
The possibilities are limitless!