The Complete Guide to Classroom Storage

Aug 12th 2022

There’s nothing more annoying than a classroom in disarray. Children wander around trying to figure out where something goes, there are messes for you to clean up when they head home and general chaos abounds in a classroom without clear organization and storage.

As a teacher, you would rather spend as much time talking about the day’s lesson and helping your students learn. There’s no better way to make this happen than to make your classroom easy to navigate and stay organized.

But how do you get started with cleaning up messy shelves and cupboards? Here are some great tips to guide you on your way.

1. Use plastic trays for... well, everything.

Keeping things separated, organized and contained is a common problem in rooms full of 20 or more people. (Especially when those people are small and don’t yet understand how to organize.)

Your new best friend is the plastic storage tray. They come in many different shapes and sizes, some with lids and others without them. Plan out your organization projects, then stock up on the trays that will fit into your ideas.

  • You can organize books by reading level in storage trays.
  • Keep small manipulatives and other small learning tools organized by type.
  • Separate scissors, pencils, glue, and crayons (by color even!).
  • Organize notebooks and loose homework assignments into their categories so students can quickly find which one is theirs.
  • Straighten up your teaching cupboards by inserting plastic trays designated for specific items.
  • Designate a plastic tray for all the lost and broken items so you can deal with them in one place.

2. Label it all!

Make each tray the specific “home” for each kind of item and make it official with a label. Decorate the labels, make the letters nice and big, or color code them. Do whatever will ensure your students see and remember that the scissors go back in the scissors bin and not in the math tiles bin.

This will save you so much work in the long run. (Wouldn’t you like to go home earlier at the end of the day?)

3. Use regular ol’ caddies for commonly used items.

Need to make sure each student always has access to items like pencils, scissors, and glue? Buy a few caddies (of the cleaning, desk, or other variety) with handles and dividers. Then fill them with those commonly used items and distribute them to each group of desks.

You’ll minimize students hopping out of their seats to go get a pencil in the middle of a lesson. And you’ll keep the lesson flow going, which will make your job so much more enjoyable.

4. Create a classroom folder system.

Use plastic crates as a place to keep hanging folders, then label each folder clearly so students can use it. You can easily divide them up by lessons, activities, or homework assignments so that you and your students know exactly where to find them.

Did a student miss a day of school? Create a folder crate with folders specifically for a missed day’s worth of work. Now when Lucy’s mom stops by to pick up her homework, you’ll know exactly where it is.

5. File trays for all the (horizontal) things.

We’ve all come to see file trays as boring tools that paper goes into (and sometimes get lost in). But it’s good for so much more than that. Here are some ways you can use inexpensive file trays to keep things neat and tidy.

  • For papers (of course) - label each section and make it easy for students to put everything you need to review and grade in the right place.
  • For puzzles - just make sure students put the pieces back in place, then you’ll never have to worry about where to stash those in-the-way puzzles again.
  • For electronic devices - keep tablets and other technology tools safe and organized on file trays near an outlet.

Keep It Organized!

There are so many great ways to have and keep an organized classroom. Your students will learn how to care for items and come to understand how to organize for themselves (great life lessons!). And best of all, your teaching will be less chaotic and smoother, making your days more productive and happy. A happy teacher makes a happy student!

If you’re ready to upgrade your student furnishings or storage solutions, reach out to Classroom Essentials Online. We offer quality options that will make your classroom neat, tidy, and functional. Contact us for help in picking out the choices that will work best for you. You can find us online at and by calling (866) 404-7671.