Ideas for Cheap and Easy STUDENT MAILBOXES in the Classroom

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As we continue to get your classroom set up, we need to talk about setting aside an area for student mail and communication. The "communication station" if you will. You have options. I know because I've tried them all. There are pros and cons to each. I'm going to take you on a tour I like to call, "The Evolution of My Student Mailboxes."

Back in the day (translation: when I first started teaching), I coveted those spiffy, wooden literature sorters. I knew it would be great. But, I was young and poor and couldn't justify the cost. So I got creative.

I started by just putting folders on their desks and passing out all of the papers at the end of the day.

Excuse me while I take a moment to shudder at the memory of the daily chaos.

OK. Moving on.

I invested in plastic stacking trays. And by invested I mean I got a good deal and scrounged up enough cash to buy a class set. This was a decent option. If you have the space (I put them on a counter) and can find a good deal, it's worth giving a try.

My set met their demise when I moved home to Massachusetts from Florida. Incidentally, that was also the demise of my tan, but that's irrelevant.

Next up, I bought a bunch of boxes from Ikea.

I made them all cute with scrapbook paper and colorful labels. Color that a waste of my time. I don't think they lasted a month and that was with them undergoing some emergency surgery from me and my hot glue gun. Even packing tape couldn't revive them.

I had used some of those wire dorm shelving cubes at home to create a system for storing scrapbook paper. I used cable ties to secure them as shelves.


I didn't care for them in the classroom for several reasons. It was hard to secure a name tag on them and the kids reaching into them made them fall apart. If you do go this route, my partner teacher laminated different colored 12x12 paper with a name label on it for each student to help them keep track of where their box was located. You may want to try that.

The following year I was moved to Kindergarten where I had two classes (an a.m. and a p.m.) so I needed two sets of mailboxes. I thought these pocket charts would be perfect. They were wall mounted so they wouldn't take up space. They weren't all bad. If I was in an older grade at the time they would be doable.

A) Because the kids could help mail things.
B) Because the kids might be tall enough to reach them.
In my situation I not only had to stuff everything into the pockets (which was a challenge because they were tight), but I also had to stand there and take everything out and hand it to my little wee ones because they couldn't reach the higher pockets.

I repurposed those to hold paperwork and switched to a crate with hanging folders (one color per class with #s so I wouldn't need to remake them).

So I followed my heart.

But, much like the rest of me, my heart is ubercheap.

So I bought the cheapo, cardboard version of my dream boxes.

And much like when my Payless shoes dye my feet funny colors, I realized you get what you pay for. These didn't last very long.
But, that didn't matter because the skies parted, angels sang and my husband presented me with not one, but TWO of the sorters of my dreams.

Well that's a bit of a lie actually.

The one in my dreams would be new and black, and these were a bit worn and that funky, fake wood-looking brown color. But nothing a little paint couldn't fix.
I've since made new labels for the new year AND repainted them a shiny, sleek, black and they are now super bee-you-tee-ful!

Oh. Are you wondering what I did with the other set? Stay tuned and prepare to be razzle-dazzled tomorrow.

Did I cover them all in my teaching career thus far or do you have a different system you use or have used?

Pick and click any or all of the options below.

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