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Monday, August 20, 2012

The CUPS or Where Did All My Stuff Go?

 Happy Monday!

My students came in to a little surprise this morning.

Actually it wasn't a huge surprise- they had "heard" about what I was going to do,
but they had not actually seen it yet.

I have been gradually "taking" their supplies away this past week.

Am I starting a new school on the side?
Am I selling their supplies out of the trunk of my car?
Am I feeding an addiction to new crayons and pencils?


Just kidding.

I want tables soooo badly, but I am stuck with desks.
I do not like desks.
I do not like the noise they make.
I do not like the space they take.
I do not want them in my class
I think desks are a pain in the

Ask me about what I do with all of their stuff.
How do they get what they need? I have a great system for passing out supplies.
Who has time to pass all of that out? It takes no time at all.
How do you keep them from putting stuff inside?
I taped off the front of their desks.

(Update: I get lots of comments asking me why I didn't just turn the desks around. That would be a great solution, BUT there are support bars on the back that would make it impossible for the students to sit or to push in their chairs)

I used clear packing tape. Works like a dream.
Follow me as I show you where everything "lives" in my room.
I'll wait while you line up...
Kristin, that is not your spot.
Hadar- focus.
Reagan and Holly, we're not talking right now.
Lorraine put that down.
Tanja and Jen R, thank you for standing so nicely.

Okay, now that we are ALL ready.

I made the "tables" out of my desks.
They are in groups of 5.
There are 4 "tables" so far this year.
They use these table #s for various things, I will share those.

At each table there is an A,B, C, D, E. It is on your nametag  to help you remember.
I might say "I need the Es to go get your table bin".

So the Es would go get the bin (only four people up).

 Let's pretend we are coloring something.

I keep the crayons in these little travel soap containers. Works like a dream. They will actually hold all 24, but I take out all but the main 12.

The red violets, blue greens, and dandelions are saved for other projects.

Those little "crayon boxes" live in a table bin.
The table bins live on a cart.
(Reagan, please keep your hands to yourself).

So now we will pretend that the Es have gotten the bins and taken them to the table.
Whoever takes it to the table, passes them out.
I might call the Ds to put them away. (again, only four people are up).
If you are the person putting them away, you make sure you get one from everybody at your table.
5 friends. 5 boxes.

What if someone is missing a color?
They can go to the crayons and get the color they need to put inside of the little box.
I painted them, but am not loving them, because they are too yellowy.
These are the same containers from the SO LONG SQUIRRELS post- just painted with new stickers.
Notice how two very distinct colors live in the same drawer.
Also if you find a crayon on the floor, you can just put it in the correct drawer.

(Holly, move with the line, please)

Now let's pretend we are working on something that needs scissors.
I have learned my lesson.
Scissors used to live at their desks (first 5.5 years of teaching).

I can't take it anymore.
The cutting of the clothes. The hair. The paper that WASN'T supposed to be cut.
Not to mention my aversion to metal- I can't handle that noise when they

So the scissors live in a separate bin.
They are in the four little bins on top of the shelf. Each contains the # of scissors to match the # at the table.
If what we are working on needs scissors, I will put that little bin in the table bin before we start.
That way when the Ds come get their bin, they have what they need.
The same with glue. It isn't in the bin, unless we are going to use it.

What about pencils?
We can't be up ALL the time taking pencils and putting them back!

Pencils live........
The desks in this pic are taped off in the front- couldn't even tell, could ya?

in the CUPS! See the cups? Cups are good.
There are only three things that can be in your cup.
A pencil.
A dry erase marker.
The coins from behavior system (that's another post).

What about keeping that cup from falling off?

The cups take up a tiny little space. Pencils don't roll off onto the floor.
NO ONE has to "dig" in a pencil box to find anything.

We only use yellow pencils- because they are community.
See how nicely they stick up out of the cup?
At the end of our day a friend just takes 'em right out, puts them in the
please sharpen me can, and then another friend puts one sharpened pencil in the cups
each morning. If you need a new one during the day, you just trade out at the cans.

This is how nice it looked while they were at lunch.
When we are finished, someone  from that table will put all those boxes in the table bin and then the table bin will go back to the cart.
And all will be right with the world.

Whooo is coloring so nicely???

A few questions I have gotten from fellow teachers

What about the pencil boxes they brought in?
Those are in the closet with a set of markers in them.
We do not use them that often, so they don't need to be in the way.

Don't they mess with the tape?
I started with the tape in November last year. So those children had two months of access to the
inside of their desks. But it was no problem at all!!! I only had to "re tape" one child's desk out of 20.

What about the books and notebooks?
Notebooks are in a literature stacker (which I am considering a bin for each table)
Books live in cubbies when not being used.

What if they need supplies for a center?
If crayons, scissors, or glue is needed for any activity- it will be in the center box.

Okay, friends
now let's all move back to the carpet.
Fern, that's not walking.
Crystal, please stop pointing at your friends.
Katie, I love the way you are sitting at the carpet.

So, now you all think I am this crazy Hitler Teacher who doesn't let anyone use anything EVER.
I promise I am tons of fun- we do a lot of fun things- I promise:)

I have just based this system on my previous experiences.
They cannot interrupt your instruction with noise from supplies that are not in their hands. (They will find other ways to do it, but now they must get creative) :)
The less distraction, the better.
They all have to take ownership of our room. We want our room to reflect the type of students we are:
Obsessively Compulsive

(just kidding on the last one)

I have tons more pictures!!!
I will have to s-p-r-e-a-d them out!!!!

Totally off subject-
I am going to make a video- how- to where I am turning a regular calendar into a pocket calendar with sheet protectors and shipping tape. I will post it this weekend.

I hope you enjoyed the little walk around my class (Kristin and Reagan, I'll talk to you two after class) <3>
I hope everyone has a Terrific Tuesday Tomorrow!


  1. I think that was one of your funniest posts EVER! (and you crack me up on a regular basis). Thank you for sharing how your store your supplies!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. Oh my word I'm cracking up.

    I love the students in your class ;)

    Jen and I can stand so nicely, yep, we can :)

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher
    Endless Pinabilitites!

  3. I love that everything has it's place.

  4. Everything, except for my marbles-those seem to be lost!

  5. You must have read my mind! I am writing a post like this for Wednesday

    I use some of the same systems in my class too

    Pocket Full of Kinders

    Shuna P

  6. Love these ideas! May have to change my classroom! Thanks for my nightly laugh!:)
    Crayons and Curls

    1. Cheryl, I implemented this mid year last year and they worked great (they weren't as color coordinated) but they worked. I have high expectations for this year, as this is the only system they have ever known in my class.

  7. Love your organization! I like to start off with my kiddos desks turned facing each other. They don't even know they are desks. When I feel like they are ready, I turn the desks around. BUT now I am contemplating your system. Thanks for sharing!
    An Open Door

    1. Your sneaky, Camille! :)I wanted to turn them around- but ours have that stinkin' bar that will give them everlasting bruises on their shins!

  8. and I'm just a tiny little bit obsessed with your blog design!!!

  9. Wow, that's a good idea!!!! Is your house this organized too?

    Reagan keeps touching meeeeeeee!

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    1. H E Double Hockey Sticks No! My house is not this organized--- remember, I started this system in the classroom just a year ago- the Littles have been tainted....

      And what did we say about "hands"?

  10. I used to have desks like those. Why don't you just turn them around so they can't get in them, then Zip tie the legs together... works like a charm!

    1. Because there is a large bar that won't allow their bodies or chairs to go in on that side.

  11. Dang I hate you! Now I want to do the soap containers and community bins!!!

    1. Hate me while you are bringing some cherry cobbler to my house- Holla!!!
      (totally not kidding)

  12. I have desks without the bar thing so I could turn MINE around... You have definitely got me thinking!!!
    I love this!
    And I love that I made it into your post TWICE and that I was naughty! :)

    1. I wonder how I ever got the idea that you might be stinker?????

  13. I love your humor. I seek you out every night for a good relaxing laugh at the end of the day. Great ideas!

  14. holy mama. I kind of can't even speak/write/type right now because I am in AWE of your togetherness. Seriously Squirrels. Awe.

    Sunny Days In Second Grade

  15. Genius.

    I <3 tables. In fact, have I got a deal for you. I have, in my garage, 4 brand new tables. Red, blue, green and yellow, the "flower" shape that sits 6. I got some donated money and bought my own, but can't use them in 4th grade. I would happily give them up for $100 apiece. That's a deal, because new they are about $250 each.

    Peacocks & Penguins

  16. Hilarious! What a great idea! I am only 2 years in and hate scissors at the tables (yeah I fought to get them) and have a growing dislike for markers. I was thinking of doing something similar to you. I love the letters on the nametags to get supplies. Genius! Side note: I totally saw some squirrel things at Joann's in my school shopping and realized I hadn't checked your blog in awhile (aka a few weeks). So glad I stopped by today!

    Apples and Papers

  17. I'm back in the blog world- and yours was my first stop! :) Summer kept me away, and I missed you!!! I thought of you alot though when I would use my lovely drink coozy!!!!! My boys even tried to steal it a few times for their juice boxes- no way, no how!!! :)

    Love your community bins- I have tables, and now want community bins!! love it! :)

    Let's Teach Something

  18. I love how you organized everything! And I have no idea how I wasn't following you yet! But I am now! :)
    Apples and ABC's

  19. wow, that's organized. LOL

    Scissors are one of those things I cannot just leave laying around either. Oh no siree. They are kept in their tin can very HIGH up. I have now had 3 little girls cut their barbie princess hair so bad that they didn't look like girls anymore. Lesson learned.

    The Paper Maid

  20. I use a system similar to this with 7th graders. It works like a charm. I add a number and letter to their desk identity so that I can call a person by letters or numbers..." Group A. 1 B" I switch up the letters and numbers so I don't always call on the same person. (person one may be A,B,C D...that way it is not 1 A always.) I also use notecards to give them their new seats. They walk in and find their seating chart accomplished during passing period. Only flaw, don't have a good way to make a substitute's seating chart.

  21. Dang. I wanted to be in your class!! I am very impressed. I pinned this!!!

    Best Practices 4 Teaching

  22. This is just so cool. I have been teaching first graders for sometime and this year I went to tAbles, community baskets on the table and seat sacs for math journals, bookmark etc.
    But I really like the shelf idea and keeping scissors out of hands. The kids loved the grouping and sitting together and I think your displays have me set to rearrange things this summer.
    Thank you for such great pictures, too.
    Cheryl goessling

  23. First time follower and commenter (if that is even a word!)! I get out for summer in 3 1/2 days and ready to do some major classroom organization over the summer.

    Think I am in love with your blog that I just found on Pinterest.

  24. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way :)
    Your ideas are great! I can't wait to try them next year. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Love your ideas!!

  26. I love this! I'm crazy organized also! I have a question though; if they don't have their own pencil boxes with supplies, what do they take when they go to Art Class???

  27. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! I loathe desks and you have just given my the answer to my prayers! Bonus - no more dropped pencils boxes with eight students diving to the floor to help clean it up. THANKS!!!!

  28. I love your table signs. Where did u get them? Ashley

  29. Good ideas, wish you could get tables. Are your desks too slanted to turn backward and group into a table? I couldn't stand the sound of tools in a pencil box as my Kinder kids shook their way to their workshops. That only lasted one year. Now we use binder pockets!

    Donna Williams

  30. I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU! I so do not think you are an OCD Hitler! I have been wracking my brain for ideas like this! I am in student teaching and my classroom is in chaos! Kids have EVERYTHING in their desks and a caddy on top. In their caddy they have their crayons and scissors and in their pencil box they have as many pencils as they want, a pink pearl eraser, glue stick, and a marker. They have a three inch binder, 3 comp notebooks, three folders, and three workbooks. THIS IS FIRST GRADE!! Keeping supplies straight is impossible. Most of the dry erase are missing and it takes forever for kids to get their materials ready. Glue is smashed and erasers are torn in half : ( They all started with 24 crayons. After taping the crayon boxes twice I gave up and put them in Ziploc....but it was too late. At least half of our crayons are missing now or broken in half. My mentor teacher is a horrible model and her classroom has no structure, routine, or order. This blog is beyond helpful to me! I am literally gonna put you on my Google Chrome Toolbar immediately! Thank You Thank You Thank You!!! Please continue to blog every detail of how you organize, manage, and plan!!!

  31. I am in absolute awe! I have a class of 25 very fiddly first graders, and the amount of times we get set to work and I hear 'Miss Gibson, there is no more glue!', 'Miss Gibson, the whiteboard markers are all gone!', 'Miss Gibson, I can't find my book!'...only to open up 24/25 desks and find ALL my missing supplies hidden down the back behind yesterday's work (which of course SHOULD have been glued neatly into their books - AARGH!)
    I definately think I will be taking some life lessons from your beautifully organised calssroom for my next bunch of kids (6 weeks left til Summer Holidays and then I have some gorgeous new bright-eyed kidlets walking through my door!)
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  32. Thank you for this bit of advice! I am moving to first and I wasn't quite sure where to start and this was a great path! I went to Walmart, got soap containers! I got INDUSTRIAL velcro, and I am working on finding the other materials needed! Thanks!

  33. One question: Do you have kids who accidentally (maybe on purpose) break crayons then think they can just replenish with a nice new one? How do you handle this? Or if their crayon get's dull or they peel back the paper?

  34. Wow! Amazing! You are one smart cookie! I love how organized you are. I have a tip for next year. Spin the desks around! No tape needed! Also you can use the middles for your own storage and no one has to know! LoL

    1. Thanks so much! It really helped! Unfortunately all of our desks have a support bar across the back that prevents them from being turned around- chairs and Littles wouldn't be able to sit - (they should have just given me tables! ;))

  35. Soap boxes!!!! I might cry over the simplicity of this! Community crayons are about to make me have a mental breakdown. The broken crayons all over the floor are killing me. The scissors I figured out years ago. The crayons and pencils though I can't take. The velcro is also going to be a lifesaver. They play with the cups and the tap, tap, tapping is making my ears hurt. I love my itty, bitties but the noise, noise, noise keeps me from being the happy teacher that I know I can be. I can't wait to make these minor changes to my already similar system.

  36. As for glue. I switched to the elmer's glue on sponges and have two containers per table and it has been the most amazing miracle for my class. No smeared glue sticks all over tables and lost lids. No mess. If you haven't tried it yet, it is wonderful!!!!


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