Our usual Back to School preparations involve haircuts and shopping for school supplies. This year is a little different since school will be virtual and at home. Keeping school supplies organized for home learning is essential.
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Use What You Have
I’m trying really hard to not think about all those fresh boxes of crayons just sitting in the aisles of Target, all those fresh boxes of pencils, and blank notebooks.
Using what you have before you purchase new items isn’t a new concept. It makes total sense, is good for the Earth, and is a key pillar of “adulting” but it still feels REALLY WEIRD to be doing it for school supplies.
Evaluate Your Needs
With three kids, we needed a combination of community storage and personal storage for school supplies. Our homework station, which we built last summer, has since turned into a homeschool station and seems like it will be for the foreseeable future. I store most of our supplies next to the homework station to keep the work surface clear.
My kids love to create, so we needed to store a lot of items. They enjoy using different papers and mediums to color. They also love to tape and glue everything they can. And, after they create a masterpiece, they want to keep it FOR. EV. ER.
I considered all this and then made some decisions. Then I got busy organizing school supplies.
Large, Medium, Small Storage Solutions
When organizing school supplies, you’ll want to start big and get smaller.
Large Storage for Everything
You’ll want a large storage space to store all the supplies.
Large Storage Ideas
- A spare cabinet (kitchen, laundry room)
- A shelf
- A rolling cart
Our Large Storage
We decided on a shelf for our supplies. I purchased a 2 by 2 cube unit from Ikea and assembled it. These units are less than $40 each — well worth it. They hold a lot of supplies and can be repurposed in countless ways.
Medium Storage for Papers
Medium storage solutions will be perfect for papers, coloring books, and completed art projects.
Medium Storage Ideas
- Magazine Files
- Plastic Bins
- Vertical Paper Sorters
Our Medium Storage
I used The Container Store’s Multi-Purpose Bins in multiple sizes. I chose charcoal to match our decor and to camouflage the chaos inside (kind of).
A combination of two small bins and one medium bin fit perfectly inside each cube and worked well for our supplies.
Each of my children got their own bin for their coloring books, completed pictures, and in-progress pieces of art.
I used smaller bins for lined paper, plain paper, graph paper, scrap paper, stickers, and stencils.
Large labels tell everyone what’s inside so they can find what they’re looking for. EVEN BETTER — it holds them accountable for putting things away! I made the labels with my label maker, but there are tons of great labeling options to make your style and your life.
For easy access and a fun pop of color, construction paper got sorted into a vertical paper sorter — in rainbow order, of course. Keeping it vertical allows kids to grab what they want without toppling the pile or digging through a basket.
Small Storage for Writing Utensils
You’ll want smaller storage containers for all the writing utensils, scissors, glue, and erasers.
Small Storage Ideas
- Mason Jars
- Small metal buckets
- Tupperware containers
- A divided caddy
Our Small Storage Solution
The top of this cube shelf is just the right height for all the little things like writing utensils, glue sticks, and scissors. In the theme of keeping it simple, functional, and cute, I shopped my house for suitable holders for all the things.
Simple mason jars I found in the cabinet hold most of our writing utensils. Pencils, colored pencils, and skinny markers are in taller jars. Shorter mason jars hold glue sticks and children’s scissors. Metal buckets leftover from a birthday party hold crayons and fat markers.
To prevent them from getting knocked over the edge of the shelf, I added a metal tray I had in the dining room. It was a perfect fit!
Why this School Supply Organization Works
- Bins act as drawers by sliding in and out and allow easy access to items.
- There are no complex rules or sorting.
- Removable and rearrangeable bins make clean up quick and simple.
- The papers are vertical, so it’s easy to leaf through to find something specific.
- No piles mean no toppling
It Sets Limits
- Each child can keep as much artwork that will fit in their bin. When their bin is full, it’s time to purge.
- Each mason jar can only hold so many markers.
It Fosters Independence
- All the items are accessible so kids can create what they want, when they want.
The Cost of Organizing School Supplies
This combination works for our space and works for our lives. Not including the actual supplies and mason jars I found in the kitchen, this whole setup cost less than $100. The best part is, as our children grow and their needs change, we can adapt these pieces to meet their needs.
School Supply Organization
Organizing school supplies doesn’t have to be complicated. In a world where so much is overcomplicated, it’s nice to keep school supplies simple. Use bins that don’t have to be arranged perfectly. Find jars you already own. Apply quick and simple labels.
How do you organize school supplies?