Math Workshop

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Organizing Community Supplies

I'm trilled to be teaming up with so many fabulous fellow teacher bloggers to give you an inside look at the favorite part of our classrooms and of course, a giant back to school giveaway!!!  Be sure to enter for your chance to win gift cards to Target, Hobby Lobby, The Container Store and Really Good Stuff, as well as Sterilite storage and Wall Pops at the end of this post!

Today I'm taking a look into how I organize community supplies in my classroom! If you're looking to make the switch to community supplies, I highly recommend it in a primary setting. I believe more than just the connivence of not having to worry about students losing any personal materials- especially when you're just about to start one of your super crafty projects ha!- it promotes social skills. All year long students need to work together to share the supplies and my personal favorite- *organize* them. :) Over the course of the year, I see them take pride in and become responsible for their materials, which is something very valuable at a young age... or any age rather. 

Just a few tips and tricks to get started!! Community supplies starts on day one. In my welcome letter, I provide families with information on how to have a great first day back. This includes letting them know specifically HOW to pack their student's supplies and informing them that I will be collecting them for community use. I know, you're probably thinking this girl is *nuts*!! But trust me, after my first day of teaching ever, I still have nightmares of all the time I spent collecting the supplies. This will make it seamless! More over, I also believe it's important to notify parents before school begins that you will be collecting them for community use, since they are the ones supplying the materials after all. 
In case you're wondering, my letter states to put all the crafty items to be collected in a large gallon size zip lock bag with their child's name (glue, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors and erasers etc.). These can be collected and you or a parent volunteer can separate them into bins at a later date. I store these bins will all the supplies on top of my cubbies for easy access. All other materials (folders, binder, notebooks, etc.) I have the students come up table by table to put in bins themselves to show them where they will be stored around the room. This helps them create a map of where to find things! As they come up, I check to make sure their name is on everything. If not, I have labels with their names pre-made.
Last year was the first year our school had an open house. I decided to give families the option to bring and drop off their student's supplies at the Open House so that I didn't have to spend time collecting them on the first day. I set up bins in the front of the room with labels for the students to place the supplies in themselves. You can click on the picture to get the labels for FREE! This was amazing and I am thrilled to know our school will be hosting an Open House again this year! Here is a link to my Open House blog post from last year. Be on the lookout for one coming soon- with a Giving Tree Apple supplies tag freebie!

If you are collecting supplies on the first day however, it's a good idea to already have community bins prepared at each table. I have also found that keeping a bin with pencils separate from the crafty supplies is most effective. That way if the students are completing work or an activity in which they don't need the remaining supplies, you can simply remove it from the table to allow for more space.

Another important trick I found this year is keeping the colored pencils and markers in their box in the bin. This allowed students to ensure they still have each color and they can easily access and find other materials in the bin (scissors and erasers).

I find that after a month or two, the markers will need replacing and the crayons and color pencils may need to be replenished. This is of course one of the most exciting events in our classroom! LOL! Miraculously their coloring and work becomes neater... that is until they need replenishing and replacing again. You know the deal!

I usually use this as an incentive in the classroom. I tell them if they are showing responsibility with their materials, they are showing me they can handle getting new ones. :)
Community supplies in our classroom extends to more than just the supplies we use to color and cut with. It also moves into the materials we need throughout our day. This includes our math notebooks, writer's workshop folders, FUNdations materials and so on!

In order to manage these supplies, I have a team table captain (one student from each table), who is responsible for going to get the bin and bringing it to the table or retrieving supplies from the table drawers.  This is just another way to promote leadership, responsibility and organization in your classroom. It is the perfect classroom management routine as well. I am sure many of you have something similar to this. :)

A tip to managing the team table captains is that I select the same students in the corresponding seats at each table. For example, if you are sitting on the left side, facing the window, each spot that matches that direction at each table will be the team table captain for the week. Then I move clockwise from there. This give students a routine and expectation for when it is their turn and limits the amount of times your will receive, "when is it my turn?" Haha! Once each person has been team table captain at the table, that means it's time to move seats!

In addition to the supplies at their tables, I also have a supplies station. This will give students access to anything their table may be in the need of, as well as additional materials they may not necessarily need all the time (i.e. stapler, paperclips...for math games ironically ha!, highlighters, pens (indoor recess specialty), etc.).

I also have a pencil drop bin for any pencils that need sharpening. In full disclosure, I have a tight grip on my pencil sharpener. Only I am allowed to use it at the moment. Guilty....

I typically place the supplies station near my writer's workshop paper selection as I feel that it flows nicely. I will be moving my math center as you can see here so stay tuned for updates to my classroom.

Below you can find how each supply has it's own space in my room.

 If you're looking to purchase supplies to help organize community supplies in your classroom, I will share with you where I found some goodies! Below to the left are my supplies bins. I purchased them at Michael's... with a coupon and teacher discount of course. The taller bins are last season from Big Lots and the labels are from Maria Manore Gavin's Editable Labels set. You can find them here. They come in the smaller size seen in the picture below, as well as the larger size seen on my teal drawers from Target.

I also found some great materials from the Dollar Spot at Target and Dollar Tree that were featured earlier in the blog post. Be on the look out!

When purchasing materials or organizing student materials, I do my best to color code to match the bins. This helps the organization and management as well since students know where to return supplies based on color!

Who doesn't love Target?! I have contributed at $25 gift card to Target for our Back to School Giveaway! There you will be able to find great community supplies management tools in the dollar spot, as well as the Sterilite drawers.  Plus, I have also seen some great school supplies steals in early September when everything goes on sale!! I have scored post-its for as low as 30 cents! :)

Hop on over to the other blogs to get a look into their classrooms and for additional entries to our giveaway!!!!

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  1. Thank you for breaking down your routine for collecting and organizing community supplies! I'm already planning to collect as much as I can at Open House! :)

  2. Could you share a copy of your letter that explains to parents that supplies will be community supplies?

  3. Can you please point me in the direction of the font you used for the "HERE" portion of your "Place ___ here" signs? I am in love!


  4. A Collector supplies almost always has something on their list of desires and if you just listen closely when they discuss their collection,
    Both can be displayed and added to an existing collection, or they can start someone down the road of a great new Collector supplies.
    Take a look: Collector supplies

  5. Do the labels already have the pictures on them or do you edit/add them? I can't get a good sense of it from the seller's site. Thanks!

    1. Hi there! Which labels are you referring to? I would be happy to help you!