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How to Organize Classroom Science and Social Studies Supplies

Classroom storage of any kind is hard to come by! Science and social studies supplies are tricky, in particular, because they naturally call for a ton of materials for hands-on learning experiences and experiments. So, where can we store all of these items? How can we organize them so they are accessible to students during the specific unit when they need them and tucked away when they don’t? These are questions we all struggle with at some point in our teaching journey. Read below to get practical advice on how to organize classroom science and social studies supplies!

10 Tips for Organizing Classroom Science Supplies

Below are tips and ideas for organizing science supplies in the classroom.

1. Share Storing Responsibilities with Your Grade Level Team

If you are like most schools, then you share the resources for the required units with other teachers at your grade level. If this is the case you may want to consider sharing the storage responsibilities. Perhaps you could house all of the Simple Machine materials while another teacher stores everything related to the water cycle. This will allow your team to keep the kits complete and make rotating them easier.

2. Keep Some Materials Accessible

Determine which science-related items span several themes as well as materials you may have that students will be interested in using regularly at choice time (microscopes, magnifying glasses, etc). Store these in containers with labels that students can easily access and put away as needed.

3. Use Dish Pans

Distribute the supplies needed for a science activity all together by partners or science groups. Investing in a set of dishpans will allow you to do this. I like dishpans because they can be neatly stacked into each other and stored easily when not in use. Trays serve this same purpose. They also stack neatly and can be slid on their side into a cabinet for storage.

4. Utilize a Large Clear Bin

Obtain a large, transparent bin that is large enough to hold everything in your collection together. Keep an inventory of what is included. You’ll want a copy in the box and another that is accessible to you at all times.

5. Keep Printables in a Binder

The fifth on the list of ideas for organizing classroom science supplies is to store printable resources in a binder. You might want to keep the related papers (worksheets, lesson ideas, plans, etc) in a binder that is separate from the bin. This will allow you to update your unit easily as you find additional resources or align the current materials to the Common Core.

6. Containerize Containers

Use smaller containers within the larger bin. For example, as part of my Magnetism unit the students test a variety of objects to determine if they are magnetic. I have prepared bags with the materials a pair of students will need. I then placed all of those small bags together into one large Ziploc bag along with copies of the recording sheets so the activity is ready for the next year.

7. Borrow When You Can

Borrow, don’t buy. Prior to starting a new unit I look for related book titles on Amazon. I then take that list to my local library website and request the titles through them. They are kind enough to gather them from surrounding towns and I make one stop to pick up 20-40 books for my students to enjoy. Then comes the best part… I return them all to the library until next year. This saves me tons on money and storage space.

8. Go Digital

Keeping digital copies of your printed resources will also save you lots of space.

9. Request Donations

Ask parents to donate consumable items. When we do our plant unit, we request seeds, soil, cups, fruit, etc from parents. We use all that we need and then pass on the remaining items to other classrooms so there is nothing to store.

10. Lean On Local Organizations

The last on the list of ideas for organizing classroom science supplies is to lean on local organizations for support. I live in the Boston area and both the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium have educator resource centers and allow teachers to check out kits for the classroom. These contain amazing resources, books and materials that enhance my teaching and don’t need to be stored in my classroom. Check out the local options in your area.

5 Tips for Organizing Classroom Social Studies Supplies

Below are tips and ideas for organizing social studies supplies in the classroom.

1. Display Some Materials

Regardless of your grade level, I’m sure geography and map skills come into play somewhere in your curriculum. Therefore, you most likely possess maps and a globe. My recommendation is that you don’t actually store these items, but instead make them accessible to the students at all times. Different geographical locations come up throughout children’s literature so it will be handy to have the ability to point out where that is on a map.

2. Use an Inflatable Globe

If you don’t already own a globe and want to save on space, I suggest investing in an Inflatable Globe. It takes up very little space and can be use for lots of fun activities.

3. Make Your Map Work Double Time

Have a map serve double duty by using it to cover open shelving. This will eliminate visual clutter by hiding your storage and will also provide students with an easy to view resource. You could also hang a map off the edge of a table to create hidden storage underneath.

4. Borrow Materials

Let the library be your cost and storage-saving friend. Borrowing titles that relate to your current topic will provide you with lots of books at no cost and best of all you don’t need to store them when not in use.

5. Containerize Containers

Depending on what topics you teach, you may find it useful to contain the related artifacts in small boxes by topic or in one larger tub dedicated to all social studies concepts.

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In closing, we hope you found these tips for how to organize science and social studies supplies in the classroom helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in my classroom organization guide as well as these posts:

Science centers and stations bring the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to life! There are so many science tools like magnifying glasses that require storage. Check out my storage solutions using shelves, drawers tubs, baskets, and more to facilitate strong classroom organization.

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