Saturday, July 30, 2016

How I Solved a the MOST ANNOYING Traditional and Flexible Seating Problem

***This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links , I will receive a small commission on your purchase.***

We all know that storage solutions are total teacher eye candy. I have a particular little storage idea for you today that makes my heart go all a-flutter.

I originally saw the First Grade Teacher Lady using a stack of drawers as storage for her student groups in this post. Below is a picture of how she has her groups set up. As soon as I saw this idea, I was obsessing over it.

They solve the problem in the classroom that annoys me THE MOST. The handing out materials problem. I cannot stand to waste time handing out common materials.

I really like that students will be able to access all materials without me having to hand them out or allow them all to get up and retrieve things for each activity. There is no teacher pain quite like students all rushing the counter for lined paper.

I also LOVE that the materials don't have to be stored inside their desks. Take dry erase markers, for example. I love using dry erase boards and markers for a quick assessment or as an easy option for every single student to participate. Except that... my students are ALWAYS using them inappropriately. It doesn't matter how many times we do a guided discovery to teach how to use the supply. Every. Single. Year. I have a few students who can't keep their marker in good shape. Or they lose it. Or the tip is mushed in to the point of being unusable.

Once I have had enough, I take the markers. I am forced to hand them out for each use (and we use them a ton). I get tired of handing them out. They keep them in desks, and the vicious cycle continues. With these little drawers, I allow them access, but not within easy reach. Win-win!
I am not the only one, right?

Another storage problem that these little babies solve is the fact that we have tiny desks with next to no storage. My room this year is a tight squeeze. I hate chair pouches because of durability issues. We have no lockers. Drawers will keep everything within easy reach! I especially like to have students sit in small groups, so having a group of four will make the drawers a perfect fit for desk arrangements.

Once I talked myself in to the idea of storage drawers, I began to shop around. I love plastic storage, but Holy Hannah, that stuff is spendy. I needed a minimum of 5 carts. In my inspiration picture, I can see that Autumn used stacking drawers (probably Sterlite brand).

I was on the hunt for a cheap alternative that had wheels! I tend to move desks a lot, especially since we have our morning meeting on the floor in an itty bitty classroom.

I found these Iris 4-Drawer Storage Cart (affiliate) and was instantly in love. I had also looked these Sterilite 3 Drawer Cart, White Frame with Clear Drawers and Black Casters, 2-Pack(affiliate) and decided that they were too short for the desks for my big kids. I wanted the drawers to be at least close in height to the tops of our desks. Coming in at about 26.5 inches compared to 24 inches for the Sterlite drawers, I decided on the Iris brand. The Iris drawers also have built in stoppers to keep the drawers from falling out, which I like. If you are looking for a more inexpensive option, definitely check Amazon for the Sterlite drawers. At the time that I wrote this post, the 2-pack of Sterlite drawers was about 22 dollars. One Iris drawer cart was about that. With that being said, the prices on Amazon fluctuate. The prices were much closer when I originally purchased my drawers.
Oh, the possibilities!

I made some cute and colorful labels and taped them on the inside of the drawers. Here is how mine turned out.

I used contact paper to adhere the labels to the inside of the drawers. You can see the fancy scrapbook lamination I used. Honestly, the roll was in the room I moved into and I am so cheap  thrifty. For every other task in my room that calls for contact paper, or shelf paper, I use this stuff: Duck Brand Shelf Liner (affiliate).

It was super easy to eye-ball the size to cut it. I also got to avoid laminating the actual labels. You can see here how precise I was with the cutting!

Things I love about these drawer carts:
  • the wheels
  • the organizing tray at the top 
  • 4 drawers in two different sizes
  • when I ordered mine, they shipped for free with Prime
  • the color (I ordered white)
  • did I mention the wheels?
  • clear drawers make it easy to label
I am not delving into the flexible seating world just yet, but if I do, my storage will be ready to adapt. I am hoping to get my back-to-school procedures in place while I get to know my class. Maybe after Winter Break we will get rolling on a new seating system. If I were doing flexible seating like my pal Alexa, I would be keeping one of these bad boys in each seating area to hold paper, dry erase boards and markers, crayons, markers, and sticky notes. I feel like their ability to be moved around really make them game changers for flexible seating classrooms. Maybe they are the push I need to take the plunge!

You can snag the labels to make your own handy storage drawers here. They would be awesome for keeping other supplies handy too, which is why I made two versions. Ready-to-Print and Editable! Did I mention that they are free?