Clearing Teacher Clutter- Managing Supplies for Classes

Are managing materials for multiple class periods getting you down? Check out this blog post to helps set some structure and get you back on track!Every year I think that I am going to be the best at managing the supplies in my classroom over the course of 7 class periods (or even one class when I taught Elementary) and one thing leads to another and life happens. It could be that we get too busy to keep up with things or I’m out for a day and chaos occurs but it always happens.

Working In Groups
In my classroom my students were in groups of four MAX. I read in a journal a few years back that for maximum efficiency in a group we should never do larger than 4 people and I took it to heart. I wish I could remember the journal article where someone did the research behind this but I simply haven’t been able to find it. Having these groups allows for four class jobs within ach table and that helps matters more than you will ever know.

My students only had an assigned table to sit at and could therefore have a new job each and every day. The jobs that I used were: Table Manager, Scribe, Materials Manager and Clean Up Crew. I simply labeled each of my desks to show these jobs and went over the purpose of these jobs during the year and had some posters to hang in my classroom (grab them FREE).

TablesThe Table Manager was my right hand. They were the one that was in charge of making sure their group stayed on task and in check. If the class got loud I could simply say “Managers” and they knew to check their group.

The Scribe (the least appealing job in my classes) was simply the one that was in charge of taking down notes for the group when doing any group work. This did not mean that they had a job every day as we didn’t always have group work to do.

The Materials Manager will be the one to rely on heavily when you are making sure your supplies are in order each day. This job entailed making sure our table tubs had all of the necessary supplies each day at the beginning and the end of the class period. They were the only one who could replace supplies as needed and therefore I didn’t have 24 kiddos getting up throughout the class period to replace things. They will be your saving grace and hold them accountable. They will need reminders of what supplies are in the table tubs and if that means taking a picture or placing a label inside then do it! They also gathered manipulatives/papers as needed for me because 6 bodies moving is so much easier!

And last, but certainly not least is my Clean Up Crew. This person took care of the Tidy Trash Tub at their table at the end of the class period.Again, only 6 bodies getting up to take care of trash at one time rather then all period having students get up and go waste time at the trash can.

Supplies for Tables
Every time I am doing a workshop I am asked what supplies I kept in my table tubs. This was really something I worked hard with and changed a lot over the course of the years. I finally reasoned it down to the following:
There are so many other things (like rulers, etc.) that I can add to the table tubs but I have come to the conclusion less is more. The one thing I do recommend for glue bottles is to grab enough of the Tap And Glue caps for each of your glue bottles and always have a refill gallon on hand. You can’t believe oh much sanity this will save you.
Extra Supplies

Manipulative and Supply ShelvesWhere do you keep them? I was thankful to have a second bookshelf in my classroom (yes, a whopping 2) and I kept it full of the shoe box size plastic tubs. I loved these tubs and still have them today over the past 10 years because they are so sturdy. As students brought in supplies, or they were saved from the prior year or sales I found, I put these supplies in their individual tubs. Since they were labeled clearly (there are so many labels available on Teachers Pay Teachers) the Materials Managers could easily go and grab the supplies they needed to replace quickly.

I did also keep a smaller tub that contained lead for mechanical pencils in it in multiple sizes. This was the only tub that I let any student get into because I wanted them to get it for their own pencil. This saved the student from having to beg and borrow from a neighbor or just not have a pencil for class. I also always had pencils for purchase for quarter in my class. The money simply went back into replenishing supplies as needed.

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4 thoughts on “Clearing Teacher Clutter- Managing Supplies for Classes”

  1. I love your ideas. You are the one blogger that I read regularly. Thanks so much for sharing all your great ideas with all of us.

    Can you tell me about Washi tape? How do the students use it, and how do you keep them from abusing it?

    I have my students in groups of 4, and I’m going to begin assigning roles to them.

    Again, thanks so much for all your great ideas,


    • Lisa,

      I absolutely LOVE washi tape and honestly my students use LESS of it then they do regular tape! They know that I will take it away in a heartbeat because of how precious it is to me. You can check out this blog post for how I have used it in the notebook for a few things. It is great to make “hinges” on things that you need multiples on top of each other but also to decorate things up.

      So glad you have your kiddos in 4s!


  2. Hi! So excited to incorporate this into my 8th grade science classroom this year. Did you ever have an issue with students fighting over which job they got? How did you diffuse that or prevent arguments over which seat they chose for that day?



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