I get lots and lots of questions each day. While I would love to answer them all (and do try very hard to write back in a timely manner), there are some Frequently Asked Questions that come up often. So I thought it would be a good idea to add a Q&A feature to the blog. As time allows, I will write up some posts specifically in response to the questions I get asked through comments, email and my Facebook page. Also, if you aren't aware there is a little search box over on the right sidebar. If you are wondering about how I teach, organize or manage something try typing it into that box. If I've blogged about it, it will come up. 

I would love to know how you organize all the stuff the kids bring in the room? What do you do with backpacks, lunchboxes, etc? I have 15 coat hooks and one shelf for 30 kids! Yikes. 

I am extremely lucky because I have a class set of lockers out in the hall. However, I have had classrooms like the one described in the question.  Here’s what I did.
I purchased 6 storage tubs (the kind that have covers and can be stacked. I used solid color tubs to limit visual clutter within the classroom, but clear tubs would make it easier for friends to find what they need).
I labeled the tubs as follows:
I always assign each student a number at the beginning of the year. We used those numbers to assign a bin. In the morning the bins would be placed with the lids off in 6 different areas of the classroom. My reason for spreading them out was that it helped with traffic flow and limited clusters of friends talking while they waited.
The students would take what they needed for the day out of their backpacks and put the backpack and coats, hats, etc into the tub. A couple of friends were assigned the class job of putting the lids on and moving the bins to the back of the room where they were lined up and stacked in a 3x2 array.
At the end of the day, those same helpers would put the bins back into their designated spots around the classroom and remove the lids. Students knew which bins to go to in order to get their belongings to go home.
  • This eliminated the clutter of having student belongings scattered about the classroom.
  • It makes it easy for a student to retreive his things if he happens to be dismissed early.
  • It creates a systematic and expected routine each and every morning which helps to get your day off to a smooth start.
  • It teaches the children about being organized without them even realizing it.
  • If you have a student who comes from a home where smokers live, his backpack and clothing will likely have a heavy odor of smoke. If this is the case, you may want to avoid using the predetermined numbers and just put students’ names on the bins. Without drawing attention to the specific students, you can create a bin for students that this would apply to.
  • Lice, bedbugs, etc: This was never an issue in the schools I have worked in, but it may be something to consider. If this is an issue for you then I think it would still be an issue if all 30 students were cramming their belongings onto closely spaced hooks. I think what I would do is get a class set of the XL4 Ziploc Bags or add them to the student supply list (they are about $2.00-3.00 a bag), have the students first place their belongings into their own bag and then into a bin for out of the way storage. 

Last summer I wrote a blog series about setting up a classroom and did do a post on this very subject. You may want to check that out for some additional ideas. Heck, you may want to check out the entire Organize and Manage Your Classroom Series.

A reader had left a comment on that post with a link to a photo that shows how she manages this situation. Thanks for sharing Tracy!
I also like Mrs. Olson's colorful cubbies...

This post is part of my Classroom Management Series. Click here to read other posts from the series.

Depending on where you live the amount of “stuff” that gets brought in daily will vary. Here in the land of four seasons we deal with wet raingear, snowboots, mittens and everything in between. I’m fortunate to work in a school that has hallway lockers for each student. This gets the outwear “out-a-sight.” Assess the space you have available for students’ belongings and determine how you want them stored.
Once you have a system in place: Create a chart that includes a photo or diagram showing the students exactly what is expected.


  • SAFETY: You don't want coats and bags in walking paths.
  • DISTRACTIONS: The hodge podge of patterns and colors creates visual clutter. If you are storing the items in your classroom, I would highly suggest finding a way to keep them hidden during the day.
  • LICE & BEDBUGS: Let's all say it together, "ewwwwwwwww!" Unfortunately, it is something that sometimes must be dealt with. If you have problems with these types of creepy crawlies in your school then you might want to find ways to keep the students' belongings from being clustered together.


  • If you do not have lockers, cubbies or even hooks, then you may want to consider using laundry baskets or tubs. If space is an issue, you could put out rubbermaid tubs and have 4-5 students place their belongings in each one. Place the lids on and stack them on top of each other.

  • Put a large table with a sheet or tablecloth covering it all the way down to the floor. Have the students store their belongings in baskets and slide them under the table when class is in session.
  • If you have an open row of cubbies, you might want to look into options for covering them during the day to eliminate the visual noise. Tension rods made for showers are great. You could also velcro fabric onto the top and cover over them after the students unpack.
This is a nice, cheap option if you are not supplied with cubbies/lockers. I highly suggest using cable ties to reinforce holding them together. Again, I would cover it over with fabric or hang a curtain in front of it.

Pick and click any or all of the options below.

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