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Senior Member
I'm taking over a 1st grade class soon. I've noticed that some of the kids are very disorganized. This is something that really bothers me, as I am very Type A and OCD. I know that modelling organization and setting aside time to clean desks/organize will be helpful in encouraging organization for the kids. Any advice on other ways to encourage/teach organization? I was thinking of making a "desk map" poster, so that the kids can see what their desk looks like.

Mrs. KD

New Member
Clean as you go.

You could have them clean out their desks, and tell them how you want a their books, and just build organization into your instructions. Kids this age are very literal, and so if you tell them to work on a worksheet before clearing their desks of the previous lesson's stuff, they are going to work right on top of that. If you instruct them to clear their desks first, then it wouldn't be an issue. You could also have like a "to do" folder for them to put all their loose paperwork. I don't think you need to go as far as a chart, building it into your instruction could do wonders. GL


Senior Member
The current teacher does do that, but I guess I just have to be very specific and literal (like with the first days of Kinder) and say "put this paper in your red folder, then take out your blue math folder. Because the problem seems to be that the teacher will tell them to put away the paper and several just shove the paper into their desk, not their to do folder. How long do you think it will take before they are able to know the routine and just do it.


Full Member

Check out www.mspowell.com She has a lot of great organization tips and also has a picture of a diagram she posts in her classroom of what an organized desk looks like.

I've always heard great things about the B.E.E. binders (Bring Everything Everyday). They are 1-2" binders that are divided into different sections. There are a lot of teachers who use these as organizational tools in there classrooms. I'm not sure if it is a great idea to completely change the organization already in place, i.e. red foder, blue folder. Many parents might not want to or be able to invest the $5.00 to $10.00 dollars needed to purchase the bonders, puches and dividers.

I hope everything works out! :)


Senior Member
I don't like things falling out of desks either! I purchased plastic shoe boxes that fit inside the desk area. I also bought plastic trays from Really Good Stuff. In the plastic shoe box they put their school supplies (crayons, pencils, etc). In the plastic tray they place their reading book, dictionary, spiral notebook, etc. I also stapled two file folders together to use as "offices" when we take tests.

If you don't want to spend the $$$ for the plastic trays I also used copy paper box lids. They will last about a year.
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Full Member
Desk Fairy

I told my students that there was a desk fairy and they will never know when th desl fairy might come. To get the treat the desk fairy leaves then they have to keep their desk clean. I do it one or twice a week. In the morning when they come in their might be a treat the fairy left for them. Some students will not get it because their desk is messy. They will learn fast.


Senior Member
I thought about doing the desk fairy. Maybe I'll get pencils as a "prize" from the fairy, as our district doesn't allow candy or food (My friend does the desk fairy and uses seasonal candy-candy canes, conversation hearts etc).

I also really like the idea of a basket inside the desk! I may look into that. I know that I can't change to the BEE folders, however when I have my own classroom I plan on using those!

Thanks for all of the advice everyone!


New Member
organization 101

I do several things to help my first graders learn the basics of organization.
1. I buy them homework folders. I label them with their names and Homework Folder. I write inside "Parents, please review and sign all homework" I reiterate that in my first newsletter, and in the curriculum syllabus, and in my welcome/self introduction letter. The children are to get their folders out of their bookbags each day, put homework in our homework tray and folders in their desks. As soon as they finish the reading lesson, reading homework is passed out and they muyst put it in their homework folder right then. As soon as math is finished, ditto. At the end of the day I ask them to take out their homework folders and I do a fast check that the relevant homework is inside and they get their things after I look at it.
2. I buy them pencil boxes (50 cents on sale, 89-99 if they aren't) I put crayons, glue stick and pencils inside. They keep them in their desks.
3. Procedures are in place that complement my desire to keep them organized. For example when we are about to begin an activity or a lesson, I instruct them to "clear your desk tops". I collect things that aren't finished in a day. I do most writing in a spiral notebook, or stapled handwriting paper books, etc to reduce the amount of loose paper. Worksheets they complete or homework handed back is given with the instruction to put this in your homework folder, so that Mom and Dad can see how well you are doing.
4. The last 15 minutes of every Friday is "cleaning day" They straighten book shelves, slates, class materials, wash the chalkboard and clean out their desks. Two kids walk around and spray desktops and wipe with paper towel. They LOVE cleaning day! The kids who wash the chalkboard and desks get to use scented lotion after their job.
Hope something here helps. Mostly at this grade level they need more direct instruction on organization, and consistant adherance to the routines of organization.

Garden Gal

Senior Member
encourage responsibility

I find that the same kids who don't put things away in their desks as directed are the same ones who never return a library book on time and whose parent carries their backpack into school each day. Get parents onboard with encouraging responsibility. When I see a parent carrying a backpack, I remind the child in front of the parent that taking care of the backpack is the child's responsibility. The message usually gets across.