Innovative Classroom Storage Ideas
Classrooms need storage. Any teacher or administrator can attest that class supplies and furniture really add up — and feeling like you’re drowning in paper and pencils or tripping over desks and bookcases isn’t a conducive environment for learning. Unfortunately, the reality is not all classroom spaces have the ideal storage situation. With all the furniture, equipment, books and supplies a class needs, teachers have to find space and room for it all, which is why they’re some of the greatest innovators.
Whether you struggle with small classroom sizes, shared classrooms or simply not enough places to put what you need, this guide can help you develop solutions to tricky storage situations. These creative classroom storage ideas help teachers and students stay organized and focus on learning. When you spend less time worrying about clutter and mess, you can focus your energy on what matters — education.
How to Organize a Small Classroom
A large classroom with closets, built-in shelves and a spacious floor area is ideal — but isn’t the reality for many schools. Most schools have varying sizes of classrooms, and a small classroom means less space for storage. This situation causes stress and anxiety for teachers who have supplies and furniture and nowhere to put them. However, with these small classroom storage ideas, the size of the room won’t matter — what matters is how big you can make it.
Having a small classroom means you must be extra innovative with your space-saving techniques. You can make your classroom bigger by increasing the usable surface area and storage. Utilize vertical storage solutions such as tall shelves and carts to maximize your storage potential. For everyday supplies like paper, folders and writing utensils, carts are also a great solution to keep these items organized but accessible.
For organization purposes, try setting items in carts by subjects, like these examples:
- Math: Rulers, calculators and manipulatives
- Science: Magnifying glasses, gloves, goggles and tweezers
- Reading: Bookmarks, notecards and reading guides
- Social studies: Maps and other informational graphics
With enough compartments — some of these carts can have 15 or more drawers — you can store all the supplies you need within a small surface area.
Bookcases might take up more space than you can afford in a small classroom, but you can solve this issue by spreading books out across the room. Place them around the room on shelves organized by subject, reading level or alphabetically by title or author’s name. The added benefit of this method is it keeps students from crowding in one area to access the classroom library.
Other storage ideas for small classrooms include donating or removing items you don’t use. A cleaning schedule can regularly cycle out excess or broken supplies from the classroom, freeing up valuable space. If you have to spread out desks for social distancing, you can use individual storage at each desk to maximize space. Additionally, hanging folders and paper slots on the wall also cut down on paper clutter while removing the need for bulky file cabinets.
These storage techniques for small classrooms can have positive effects on student outcomes. With less space, students learn about boundaries and organization — they learn to keep their belongings tidy, and storage carts model how everything has a special place and that proper organization makes finding things easier.
How to Organize a Multigrade Classroom
The challenges of shared or multigrade classrooms are two-fold because of both space and time constraints. If one classroom space hosts three grade levels and subjects throughout the day, that means at least three different requirements for teachers, supplies and storage. The trick to organizing shared classroom spaces is to make items multipurpose and to have mobile storage options.
A key organizational idea for multigrade classrooms is mobile storage, as it lends the ability to switch quickly between levels and subjects. Storage options on wheels keep each class’s supplies contained and organized while making them easy to access. Teachers can purchase mobile storage, but a do-it-yourself option could be adding wheels to furniture already in the room. Some excellent options for wheeled storage in shared classrooms include:
- Multi-drawer rolling carts
- Cubbies on wheels
- Storage cabinets on wheels
- Rolling filing carts for papers
Having one storage system for each class can help teachers and students transition easily between classes in the same room.
Using the same items for multiple purposes can also save valuable space. Multipurpose items include two-sided blackboards and shared supply drawers. For lessons that span numerous class periods, leaving writing on the board can help with the continuity of learning and save the teacher time the next day. Sharing supplies can also save space, as each class won’t need separate storage for their everyday needs, like paper and utensils.
Since furniture is less mobile and takes up more space, the ideal situation would include the same desk set up for each class. If the teachers can decide on a setup that works for everyone using the space, it can save valuable time rearranging the room during class transitions. For social distancing purposes, the setup usually calls for rows of desks spaced a certain distance apart for every class.
Coding systems and names help separate classroom supplies and provide a system that works across all grade levels. Color coding each class means any student from kindergarten upward can distinguish between classes. Having students come up with fun names for their group based on their color can get them involved and excited about the process.
For the day-to-day transition between classes, teachers can decide on a system amongst themselves and elicit help from the students before or after each class period. To boost camaraderie between the classes, students can spend a few moments at the end of their class period setting up the room for the next class to come in.
How to Organize a High School Classroom
High school storage needs are different from those of middle or elementary school. Students usually bring their supplies, have their own notetaking preferences and develop their own study and organizational patterns. High school students also want teachers to treat them more like adults, with more freedom and responsibility. Another difference is high school teachers may prefer to manage the classroom less and structure it more, meaning students learn to follow systems and procedures independently.
Storage for high school may work best in more neutral shades since loud colors can distract from focused learning. For example, the color red can increase stress levels, while less intense shades like green or blue help people feel at ease. Creating a mature atmosphere helps students act more responsibly about their classwork and take ownership of their mistakes. File folders and mail sorters, as opposed to the colorful baskets and folders of elementary school, represent office-like storage options students will interact with in their professional life.
An excellent approach to organizing high school classrooms is to enhance students’ self-sufficiency. Instead of collecting papers from each student, using a series of inboxes means they must remember to submit their work independently. Additionally, another great storage option to enhance independence is to have file folders for each student to access their graded work. Students can be responsible for checking their own folder regularly, and it keeps graded work organized for the teacher.
These high school classroom storage ideas can reduce stress for both students and teachers, making it easier for each to keep track of assignments and graded papers. While elementary and middle school students may need daily management with their storage options, high schoolers can independently implement these classroom organizational strategies, freeing up time for teachers to focus on their lessons.
How to Organize Elective Classrooms
Specialty subjects, like art, woodworking, culinary arts and music, all require different storage options due to the nature of the class. Since these courses involve more student participation and supplies than traditional coursework, the storage solutions will be different. Vertical storage and cabinets are great solutions for these classes to make more space for activity.
For classes like pottery, photography and food science, a teacher’s primary focus is usually the organization of materials and supplies. Teachers can organize supplies like food ingredients, measuring utensils, pencils, brushes, paints and glazes in individual baskets and drawers to keep them separated. Rolling carts can also help store supplies and transport materials throughout the classroom.
Music and woodworking classes, among other subjects, use large equipment that takes up space. Wheels and carts can help make heavy machinery and instruments more mobile, which is essential for shared classrooms. Large closets are also practical ways to keep these items out of sight while not in use.
Specialty classes are often messier than normal classrooms and require more safety precautions, but organization can help with this issue. To keep students accountable for their mess, distribute supplies to a few areas of the classroom and assign them to different groups. Each group is then responsible for cleaning that area and returning supplies to the proper station. A similar strategy works well for safety supplies — keeping a set of safety equipment, such as gloves and goggles, at each station can ensure students don’t begin projects without the necessary gear.
Storage Ideas for Individual Students
Studies on education show that an organized student is a successful student. In fact, one study demonstrates how students who learn better organizational skills can increase their grades and school performance. These individual student storage ideas can help set up students for long-term success and keep shared and smaller classrooms free of clutter.
Students can learn organization both through instruction and modeling. Teachers with great organizational structures can help reinforce organization in their students, but having individual storage options is an excellent idea to enhance these lessons. The simplest option for this type of storage is at-desk storage. Students who have their own desks can buy or make desk pockets that hang from their chairs to keep everything they need at their desks.
Other options for at-desk storage include:
- Handheld caddies for utensils and supplies
- Desk drawer organizers
- Multi-pocket hanging storage bag
- Under-chair baskets
These individual storage options can reduce movement in the classroom and keep each student responsible for their own things.
A no-clutter policy can also help encourage students to be accountable and keep their work in their designated spaces. Teachers can assign cubbies or drawers as individual students’ supply storage for what they need in class. Multi-drawer carts are also a great option because they don’t take up too much space, and some even have wheels for better mobility.
Storage Ideas for Classroom Devices
In today’s classrooms, some sort of technology is almost always a necessity. The way students learn is changing, and with that comes new challenges for classroom storage. Devices need to be charged for use in class, but a few wall outlets can’t cover all 20 tablet or laptop charging cables. Though power strips can help, with large class sizes, even those may not cut it. Plus, cords and devices lying everywhere in the classroom are a safety hazard.
Teachers can construct their own racks or cubbies for storing classroom devices, and though these are a cheaper solution, a few glaring problems remain. If not strong enough, these structures run the risk of damaging important and expensive technology. Additionally, students can confuse the cords, meaning teachers have to deal with uncharged devices. Even most charging stations have downsides of taking up too much space and causing students to crowd into one area.
The best solution for classroom device storage is PowerGistics’ innovative charging stations. Most importantly, the vertical design saves space for classrooms that desperately need it and can be mobile to account for shared spaces. You can also set up PowerGistics charging stations in multiple areas to reduce crowding and eliminate time wasted on collecting and returning devices. The station’s cord management means each cable clearly connects to each device, and the open design means teachers can ensure all devices are charging properly before the day begins.
PowerGistics charging stations can solve many daily classroom concerns, like interruptions during class time and replacing uncharged or damaged devices. The horizontal shelf design means cables can’t be easily twisted or frayed, and students can return their devices without the risk of damaging them. In addition to saving teachers time, this product also keeps IT departments focused on important work rather than constantly dealing with uncharged devices or broken cords.
PowerGistics Is the Solution for Classroom Device Storage
Classroom space is valuable real estate, and with the enormity of supplies most classes need, creative storage solutions are a must. Teachers in small and shared classrooms face difficulties finding space for everything they need, but these ideas can help create more storage and square footage in less than ideal classroom situations.
Educators are some of the best innovators, and they deserve innovative technology that works for them. PowerGistics’ charging stations provide storage and power solutions for classroom devices in a sleek, space-saving design. With numbered and colored shelves, teachers can assign devices individually to students, preventing the transfer of germs and making device returns hassle-free for teachers. We construct our charging stations with students and educators in mind because we know the importance of empowering student learning.