Money saving tips for organizing a classroom

Classroom Storage Ideas

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Need Inexpensive Classroom Storage Ideas

I am a teacher and I need money saving ideas for my classroom for storage, decor, shelving, etc. My room can not look cluttered.

D-I-Y Workbook Holders

I once saw this idea in a magazine. You could have your students bring in empty cereal boxes in which to place magazines and workbooks. Fashion the cereal boxes after the store bought magazine holders. The kids can decorate the boxes with acrylic paint, contact paper, or wallpaper. The kids can take them home after the school year.

From The Freezer to the Classroom

I am a former teacher and had great success with five-gallon ice cream buckets for storage. When they are labeled and put on a shelf, they look really cute! I taught elementary school, so this fit in with our decor very well. Office paper boxes are excellent for storage and last forever. They can be found at your local print shop or in the resource room at your school. I hope this helps, and have a wonderful school year!

Internet Ideas

Lots of inexpensive storage, decor, and shelving ideas can be found at or

Laminate Makes Things Last

I teach 4th grade and spend way too much of my income on my classroom. I've come up with a few ways to save some money. First of all, laminate everything you buy. It's more expensive initially. In the long run, laminated items do not need to be replaced as frequently.

For storage, I ask for the boxes that folders come in at Target and K-Mart. I cover them with contact paper and use them to store my different portfolios, records, etc. I also use a lot of milk crates to hold my books behind my desk. Use dishpans from the dollar store to hold your classroom library. Because the dishpans don't have holes like baskets, the corners of the books will not be destroyed.

When designing the bulletin boards in my classroom, I use things that students made. By doing this, my walls reflect the creativity of my students. Pre-made bulletin board sets are expensive. When I make letters for my bulletin board, I use gift-wrap. Be sure to make extra vowels. We have an Ellison machine at our school, but often craft stores will allow teachers to use their machine. They don't charge much. Then I'll laminate the letters. I do a couple sets like this every year. Now, I have a lot of different letter sets to choose from that I've done over the years. Also, try a graffiti board occasionally. Just cover the board with paper and let the kids write on it. This is nice to do at parent conference time. Have the parents write a note to their child.

Go to your local library during book sales. You can often get ten books for a dollar. Also, join the book order clubs (Scholastic, Trumpet, etc.). They have really good deals every month and you earn points if you or your students purchase books. I also do a "three for free" trade in with my students. If they bring in three used books for the classroom, I will give them a book from the book order. (I use the bonus points for this.) Spread the word to your family and friends that you want books. Take the books to a used bookstore and trade them in for credit. Use this credit for children's books. Good luck and enjoy!

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Yard Sale Bargains

If you have little ones in diapers or know anyone who does, empty wipe containers are a cheap way to organize small things such as pencils, crayons, markers, or craft supplies. They can be stacked on shelves or in cabinets and labeled with permanent markers. Some stack together like blocks.

Also, check out yard sales for stacking letter trays. These are great for organizing handouts by class. I know of a teacher who used them for homework papers. By doing this, she didn't have to waste time collecting the daily assignments. The students put their homework in the proper tray as they came into class. I've been able to get these trays for 25 cents each at yard sales. In fact, yard sales are great places to get all kinds of inexpensive teaching supplies. You can stock the classroom library, and purchase classroom supplies.

Informed Parents are Generous Parents

At the start of every school year, my son's school has sign up sheets where parents donate either their time or needed materials. You might suggest to your room mothers that Rubbermaid boxes are needed. Parents are generally very generous when it comes to their child's education.

Cute Clutter Busters

Here are some ideas that I use in my classroom:

  1. To store items, I use a clear shoe holder, hang it on a cabinet door and put necessary items in the numerous pockets. It even holds my large packaging tape dispenser.
  2. Another idea is to use a skirt hanger that is designed to hang numerous skirts on. On each clip, put a large resealable bag that you can use to store manipulatives, etc. and they are ready for you when you need them! I hang it on an extra coat hanger hook in the classroom.
  3. Hang a decorative shower curtain between a wall and a large art cabinet if you have one and store all kinds of things behind it! I go from floor to the top of the curtain with items in boxes that are labeled with the contents.


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Cover Clutter with Curtains

One of the best classroom ideas I have seen is a short curtain covering the shelves. The classroom had several bookcase shelf units that made a countertop across the back of the room. The teacher took some fabric, hemmed and gather-stitched it, and mounted it onto the shelves with hook and loop tape (e.g. Velcro). The curtains dressed up the room as well as hid the clutter on the shelves. The kids did not bother them a bit.

Reviewed February 2018

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