Organizing (& A B2S ONE DAY Sale)

Okay.  So I wanted to pop in real quick talk about organization. I'm asked this question often in various forms...  "How do you organize your clip art?"  "How do you store your center activities?", "What is your favorite planner/organizer?", etc.  I figured it would easiest to just lump it all together and tell you a little bit about the different ways I organize just in case some of these ideas are helpful for you, too.

I've been using Erin Condren planners (Life Planner) since about 2010.  I absolutely LOVE her stuff. I was having a really hard time justifying the price tag because I don't utilize all of the bells and whistles like I should.  I like to carry my planner with me where I go and it was just a bit too bulky making it cumbersome to carry around like I wanted.  I switched to Plum Paper last year and loved it, but I had the same problem.  I've been on the hunt for the *perfect* planner and ended up randomly finding one I adore for $10 at Target!!!  So far, it's *perfect* for what I need!!  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles...stickers, pockets, etc.,..but I absolutely adore the format.  LOTS of space to write.  It's the size of a regular notebook, but not thick.  I can carry it with me everywhere!!  I just use flair pens to stay (appointments), green (weekly menu), etc.  I realized when it comes to planners I'm a VERY simple person!!  HA!

It's pretty, isn't it?!  And it wipes clean...a VERY important feature when you're dealing with someone as klutzy as me :)

Just like every other planner, this one also has each month-at-a-glance, but the spaces are bigger which I love.

I love the format for the day-to-day planning.  There's enough space to write the day's activities/events, a space for all my "to-do's" (I LOVE a checklist!!!), and I can also fit my weekly meal planning dinners as well.  LOVE.

I've tried organizing my clipart in a variety of ways, but I finally settled on organization by theme.  Since I plan and create thematically, this method seems to make the most sense.  I can quickly find exactly what I need...see?!  

I organize my digital files similarly.  Subject area and theme.  I keep all of my TpT purchases in a separate folder labeled "Purchased Resources" and within that folder I organize by subject area and theme as well.  

My files are all stored on several different servers because I'm paranoid and like the idea of having "backup".  Dropbox, Carbonite, and EHDs :)  I hope I'm covered, lol!!!  Nothing on my hard drive because I don't like to use a ton of space.

In the classroom, I keep all of my station/center activities stored in either gallon sized ziplock baggies OR 9x12 tabbed envelopes and stored in the Sterilite drawers.  I label those drawers by month.  Since all of my activities are thematic, I can pull and plan for the month.  For me, that just makes sense although I'm sure there are easier more effective/efficient ways to organize!!!   When I was keeping everything in filing cabinets it seemed like it took me FOREVER to find things!  Now I know exactly where to go for my resources :)

To take it a step further, I keep ALL of my resources written in a little binder.   I have pages in my binder that are labeled by theme since most of my teaching is done thematically.  For example, on my "apple" pages, I have the activity written in one column, the author of the activity written in another {so that if any pieces to the activity are missing, I can quickly look it up & print it off on my computer without searching for HOURS}, and the location of said activity in the last column {monthly drawers, filing cabinet, etc.}  This is something I take with me to planning so that I know exactly what I have when it's time to come up with activities to share with the team!

Here's a little idea of what I do for math.  Again, it's all kept in my math conferring binder.  

The top picture is how I organize and plan math conferences.  I write out all of our math objectives {the ones from our benchmark assessments} on white labels and just place them inside of a file folder.  When I have students that don't master an objective on our benchmark assessments {every 6 weeks} I write their name on a little sticky and place it next to the skill...or skills...they didn't master.  When I go to conference with my kids, I know exactly which skills to target and this helps me plan A TON!

The bottom picture is how I keep my math groups organized.  The left shows my math groups {high, medium, low}.  They're color coded because of the way I differentiate my math tubs.   The right side is a breakdown of my cooperative learning groups...this is the group kids are in for their math stations/tubs.  They're grouped heterogeneously to help with peer teaching.

This is how I keep my literacy stations and tubs organized.  I implemented this a few years ago and let go of some of my control.  I was SCARED.  But y' was AMAZING.  The kids really loved the autonomy and it was stress free for me!  Basically, I just typed up each student's name on a sheet of paper & laminated it.  I placed each sheet in a literacy station/tub along with an expo marker.  The kids knew that only 2 kids were allowed to work at a station/tub at one time, but they had the choice to go to any tub they wanted.  When they got there, they used the Expo to mark their names off the list.  By Friday, they should have completed all of their tubs/station work.  I could quickly scan over the lists to see if any of my kids didn't go a station/tub if there names weren't crossed off the list.  This was a great little motivator for Fun Friday centers :)

And don't forget...Teachers Pay Teachers is having a ONE DAY sale TODAY!!!  Everything in my little shop is 20% off today.  You can use the promo code MORE15 to get an additional 10% off of your total purchase.  Click on the "shop my store" link at the top of the page to stock up before the sale ends at midnight!

Have a great day and happy organizing {and shopping ;)}!!


  1. I love seeing how other people organize! Lots of great ideas that got me thinking. I'm dying to click on your folder "Pacing Guides!" I teach SpEd and mine changes every year with the students. I secretly love making them though :) Thanks for sharing all of this! Jen

  2. LOVE! You are my teacher crush ;) I mean that in the non creepiest way possible - ha! I am also wanting to do my centers where students have a choice. How many centers do you have if only 2 are allowed at a station? Also, is there a way you ensure certain behaviors aren't together, or two students that are on an intervention type level? Thanks! Kristin

  3. Thank you for sharing your organizational tips! Our planners look very similar, though mine is a mini-notebook size. Flair pens are a must for keeping everything organized!!

    Carlee Van Ness
    The Kindergarten Press

  4. I have the same planner-- for the same reasons. My cover is different though-- just plain colored.

    My Bright Blue House

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  6. Thank you for this post!!! It is super helpful to me to see how other teachers organize - I think I am missing a "that makes sense" organization gene and always make my life way more difficult than it has to be!!! hahaha

  7. Cara would you be willing to share your center cross the name off sheets. They are so cute and Id love to use them in my kinder/first combo class this year.

  8. I love how you organize your clip art and digital files by theme. I was actually thinking of how I could best do this so seeing how you do it is right on time! My files are a MESS and need a major overhaul. Thanks for sharing.

    Your Teacher Assistant

  9. Cara, I love your ideas. I was wondering what computer program you use to make all your lessons and worksheets and where you find your cute clipart? Thank so much!
    Mandy Alford

  10. Please tell me where you got that super cute pencil cup? I love it!

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