Friday, August 21, 2009

"Bin There, Done That" (Or How to Keep School Clutter from Turning You Into a Basketcase)

Dear friends,
To keep school stuff from overtaking our home more than it already does, we've invested in a bunch of different kinds of plastic bins.
These four small ones are labeled for pens & pencils, colored pencils, scissors & tape, and miscellaneous small stuff. I have to sort these out periodically, because nobody cares quite as much as I do to put things back in the right places, but the bins do help keep things organized. Using the white rack maximizes the space on the shelf. On these supply shelves, I also have a larger plastic bin full of zip lock bags that have pieces to educational games, a shoebox size bin with Cuisenaire pattern blocks, and a flip-tip shoebox size bin to hold flash cards that are in zip lock bags. (You can see some of these here: Organizing with Plastic Zip-Style Bags at Home and On the Go.)
I gave each one of my five younger kids some sort of plastic bin to store their books, notebooks, and school supplies. I line them up on a shelf in the dining room, so they can either take the whole thing into another room to study, or retrieve/replace items as needed. They also have smaller plastic boxes inside the bins to store their pens, pencils, colored pencils, glue sticks, crayons, scissors, and other school supplies. Yes, I still find things left out, but at least I now have a place to stash them in a hurry. It helps that all of their work books and notebooks are labeled clearly on the front cover so I can see in a flash whose it is without thinking of whose 5th grade grammar book I'm staring at.
Naomi started out using a plastic milk crate. It is more bulky than I would like, and quite painful if you stub your toe on it, but she liked it because it's pink. Another drawback of the milk crate is that small items like crayons can fall out of the holes. I have since replaced it with one like her brothers' bins below.

My three boys' bins are clear plastic. They are not as durable as milk crates, but a little easier on errant toes. It costs $3 at Wal-Mart. After I took these pictures, I labeled all of the ends of the bins with the kids' names in black permanent marker.

Four year old Melody was terribly jealous at her brothers' and sister's bins and wanted her own. I hadn't bought one for her yet, but I found this cleaning bucket in our storage room. (I had to take car wash supplies out of it first.) The handle makes it easy for her to carry around. It doesn't hold as many books, but she doesn't have as many anyway.

We have another bin in our living room to hold our family Bible time notebooks, and two more on the floor next to the bookcase for library books and board books.

So you see, I really have "BIN there, done that!" Give it a try!

Happy organizing!

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