Thursday, July 31, 2014

Organizing Math Materials: Math Tub Signs

Oh yes, I can relate! Does this sign speak to you?   I know I've been there and have felt that. 
Some teacher friends and I were talking about what kinds of things "steal our peace" in the classroom.
Disorganization ranked high on the list.  I have often felt as though I was drowning in the classroom clutter; it can overtake my space and overwhelm my mind. 

A few years ago I took part in a 30 Bags in 30 Days New Years Challenge.  The purpose was to decrease stress and regain peace by unloading one bag of unnecessary stuff from our homes each day for the month of January. I wanted my home to  be a refuge; a place to play, create, dream, rest and love my family.  It is hard to achieve that when too much clutter overtakes our space. 
 Our group used Peter Walsh's book, It's All Too Much as our guide.  This is a super easy read and helped lead me to the realization that having more possessions was more suffocating than liberating. Too much stuff wasn't helping me to live the kind of life I wanted for my was getting in the way. Through this challenge I have discovered a simple and decluttered home helps me to stay focused and centered on what is important in my life. 

So now it's time to translate this thinking into my classroom.  Has too much stuff overtaken your school space? In his book, Peter Walsh starts with having his readers imagine their ideal day.  Many of us spend over nine hours in our classrooms a day. What do we want that time to feel like for ourselves and for our students?  I want my kids to feel happy and energized and ready to work and learn with clear and focused minds.  I find that my kids can become overstimulated by the sheer volume of stuff in my classroom. 

This has led me on a quest to organize and declutter my files, games, books, and learning materials. I've begun streamlining my math center resources and am feeling really good about it. 
I have organized my materials by math strands and have picked only 3 or 4 games or activities to use when teaching a math concept. This has been hard because there are so many cute and fun games out there, but I've found that too many choices can result in confusion and misunderstanding. Less is best for me and my kids. 

I have designated a math area in my room and have organized my center games in these drawer sets I found in Target.  Inside each drawer are the games I have found that are the MOST engaging and appropriate for my group.  

I blogged about this organizational system last year and am back to report that it worked well and helps to keep me and my students organized and focused.   I have had many requests for the signs that I used to label each drawer. I have added them to my Teachers Pay Teachers store as a free item.
If you are interested in using them in your classroom, head here to download.

There are lots of other ways to organize the stuff needed to do our jobs. 
Do you have an idea to share?