Classroom storage solutions can be challenging to come by when you have to consider learning space and limited room design. From headphones and technology tools to art supplies and books … there’s a lot to squeeze into your classroom, which sometimes requires some creativity!
Do you need to spend money on shelving? Find a way to hang your anchor charts on cement walls? Reuse plastic containers? We’ve all been there!
The Teach Starter teacher team is here to help you save you the time it takes to set up your classroom before students arrive for the first day of school with some simple, cheap and clever storage ideas for the classroom.
We’ve compiled tips and tricks that have worked for the teachers on our team and also included some fantastic solutions from teachers in our community. Your classroom may or may not live up to all your Pinterest dreams, but if it’s organized and functional, that’s what matters most. Keep scrolling for easy storage hacks and clever ways to organize your classroom.
Get back-to-school ready with our favorite teacher-created resources!
Classroom Water Bottle Storage Ideas
Water bottles in the classroom are tricky. We want students to stay hydrated, but we don’t need all that condensation on students’ desks … or a lot of spillage. Thanks to teacher Sam Reid for sharing this awesome idea that solves it all — store those water bottles with a bottle rack made for bikes that can be mounted on each student’s chair.
They’re easy to access, but they leave room on the desk for important stuff — like schoolwork!
Photo courtesy of teacher Sam Reid
Can’t find bike water bottle holders that fit the bill? Try these ideas from our teacher team:
- Clean out your cleaning wipe containers, drill two holes in the side, and mount the empty containers to the chair or desk leg with a zip tie. Bonus: This trick catches the drips if a student’s water bottle happens to leak!
- Pick up small metal buckets from the local dollar store, and use mounting strips to mount them to the leg of each desk.
- Purchase small mesh-like pencil cups, and mount one on each student desk with a mounting strip.
Classroom Window Storage Ideas
Are you short on wall space in the classroom? Extra windows let in plenty of light, which can be a bonus if you’re teaching in one of those climates where winter gets dark and dreary.
On the other hand, a bank of windows takes away valuable space for hanging up items in the classroom, not to mention setting up bulletin boards. Our simple solution? We use our classroom windows wisely!
- Hang wire across the windows, and use clothespins or small clips to display your student work. Wire can easily be found at most craft stores, but if you’d prefer something more eye-catching, opt for ribbon to make your hanging art wall in front of your window.
- If you’re allowed to post items on the windows themselves (be sure to check the fire code), you can mount your classroom alphabet on your windows, post your anchor charts, turn a single window into a word wall and plenty more!
- Use suction cups with hooks to display your student work or hang different items. One teacher on our team likes to print out vocabulary words on cardstock and laminate them, then use a hole punch so they can be put together on a binder ring. These could easily be hung from one of these hooked suction cups!
- Use window markers to create your anchor charts directly on your windows! This will allow them to be easily seen by students without taking up valuable wall space.
- Create a “doodle” window for students by setting up a cup of window markers that can be attached to a window with a suction cup.
- Use your window as a parking lot for sticky note exit tickets when students complete a lesson.
Dry Erase Marker Storage
Dry-erase markers are ubiquitous in the classroom, and we can never have enough. But how do you keep track of them all?
Second-grade teacher Lorena Figueroa came up with a delightfully colorful way to store all her Expo dry-erase markers! Using rainbow-colored Crayola containers, she made organizing easy for her students by adding a matching colored pom pom on the bottom of each pen. These also double as erasers!
Photo courtesy of Arizona second-grade teacher Lorena Figueroa
Another teacher who goes by @stylininsixth on Instagram found a container that will fit all of her beautiful markers and that can store them upside down (makes them last longer), added some magnetic backing, and poof — it’s a whiteboard marker storage solution that keeps them handy right where you need them!
Photo courtesy of @stylininsixth
Classroom Headphones Storage Ideas
Classroom headphones … they’re fabulous for students to listen to things on their tablets in the classroom, but keeping track of all of them is, to quote Jean Ralphio from Parks & Recreation, the woooooorst!
Try this brilliant trick for headphone storage in the classroom! Using a hanging shoe organizer allows each headphone to have its own personal spot, so you can say goodbye to tangled cords. Thanks to first-grade teacher Katie Keegan for this idea.
Photo courtesy of first-grade teacher Katie Keegan
Other ways to store your classroom headphones:
- You can’t go wrong with Zip-Loc bags! Use one bag for each student, and label it with their name.
- Depending on the age of your students, each child can store their headphone set in a chair pocket.
- Use one side of your whiteboard for headphone storage by hanging magnetic hooks (one per headphone set)!
- If you have unused coat hooks in your classroom, convert them to a headphone storage space.
- Dedicate a rolling classroom cart to your students’ headphones. This is another good space to have each set in a Zip-Loc bag.
Classroom Art Storage Ideas
Shoe organizers aren’t just good for headphone storage in the classroom! They’re also a cheap classroom storage option for storing art supplies, especially when you find the organizers with clear pockets so your kiddos can see through to spot the exact item they need.
Bonus? You can store all of your markers upside down in a shoe organizer so they don’t dry out as quickly.
Get creative with your plastic storage tubs like Missouri K-5 teacher Kelsey! Instead of labeling each bin with a paper label, she attached the actual item that belongs in each bin. Wondering how to attach each item? Use a hot glue gun!
Photo courtesy of K-5 Missouri teacher Kelsey
Speaking of plastic storage containers, fifth-grade Indianapolis teacher April Pickett snagged these eye-catching trays from Michael’s to organize her desk drawers. Depending on your drawer space and size, you could separate your pens, pencils, scissors and glue for each of your classroom learning centers or stations.
Photo courtesy of Indianapolis fifth-grade teacher April Pickett
Other marker storage ideas:
- Use recycled plastic containers for your markers (or paintbrushes). They’re durable and easy to clean!
- Clear glass jars are also great for marker storage for viewing ease and an aesthetic appeal to your shelves.
- Seethrough binder pouches are also great for marker storage. Use the pouch hole to hang on hooks, inside cubbies, or in a binder dedicated to art supplies.
Adding some artistic sparkle has never been easier than with Ontario kindergarten teacher Anna Daniel’s idea of using salt and pepper shakers! The uniform size of each shaker also makes storage easy with plastic tubs or a small spice rack.
Photo courtesy of Ontario kindergarten teacher Anna Daniel
Classroom Technology Storage Ideas
This is a classroom storage oldie, but we’re filing it under goodie. Purchase a bamboo wooden dish rack, and your classroom laptops and tablets fit beautifully between each set of pegs! Third-grade Kansas teacher Corinne shared this tip with us.
Photo courtesy of third-grade Kansas teacher Corinne
Other laptop storage ideas:
- Try using a mailbox sorter if you have one with slots large enough to hold a laptop.
- Like a mailbox sorter, strong metal desk organizers can also store your students’ laptops.
- Plastic book bins are sturdy for laptop storage and can be categorized by color if your students’ work on computers in stations or small groups.
- Mobile carts are great for laptop storage if you don’t use them on a daily basis and so they can be wheeled around to different plugins around the room.
Classroom Paper Storage Solution
All of the beautiful colors! Do you have a lot of colored paper or cardstock that you use? Have you got a slight obsession with the different colors you can buy? Cough, cough, us too.
And because we get it, we have a storage solution for you; thanks to Wisconsin fourth-grade teacher Mianna Sobotta for this great photo of colored paper stored perfectly in a filing cabinet drawer and sorted by color. It’s a rainbow, and it’s so soothing.
Photo courtesy of fourth-grade teacher Mianna Sobotta of Wisconsin
Other paper storage ideas:
- Use a portable file box if you don’t have a filing cabinet. This is a great mobile storage solution as well!
- Plastic, metal or wood paper organizers (or trays) make your colored construction paper easy to see and organize. Dedicate a slot to each color.
Classroom Game Storage Ideas
One of our very clever Instagram teachers shared this a while back, and we were hooked! She used colorful folders to store all of her Teach Starter Bingo cards and made them easily accessible by storing them in this dish drying rack. You can also use an old CD rack (remember those?).
Other game storage ideas:
- Secondhand or excess shelving units at your school are perfect for storing classroom games. Use different colored plastic bins on each shelf for organization ease.
- Use a spice rack to store small items such as dice, counters, marbles and prizes.
- Dedicate a mobile cart to game supplies. One level can be for board games, one for puzzles, one for rubber balls, etc.
Zip-Loc Bag Storage
Hanging Resource Storage
Math games can get complicated to store, but Miss McCloud purchased this rod from her local dollar store and has used some hangers and clothespins to create this simple game storage solution!
Photo courtesy of Miss McCloud of Queensland
More Storage Hacks
Private Note Storage
Looking for an organized way to check in with your students who may need extra attention? Try this idea from Michigan fourth-grade teacher Bailey Russell. She added sticker letters to a cardboard mailbox and an envelope-shaped metal paper or napkin holder for the blank sheets.
Ms. Russell comments, “My students used it SO much in the past two years, and it served as a great tool to develop and maintain positive relationships. This system lives in my student center for easy access. I would definitely recommend adding to your classroom!”
Photo courtesy of Michigan fourth-grade teacher Bailey Russell
Plastic Bag Storage
Do you have a ton of empty plastic wipes containers? Don’t throw them out! Upcycle them into simple storage for plastic bags in your classroom so you always have them on hand when a student needs to take home a pile of old artwork or clothes that got a little too messy on the playground!
Because they’re designed with a special mouth to prevent you from pull all of the wipes out at once, they also help students to grab just one bag at a time instead of the entire container’s worth!
Worried the plastic bag container will disappear in your classroom? Mount it on the wall right near your classroom door, so students have easy access!
Anchor Chart Storage
Anchor charts are huge (and we’re huge fans), and they’re easy to roll up … but what the heck do you do with them after that? Grab a hamper, and stand them up inside. Easy. Peasy. Lemon. Squeezey!
You can also clip your anchor charts to a hanger and move them around the room as necessary. Curtain rods also make anchor chart storage clean and easy!
Yes, we know it’s basic. But while many teachers are already using tray labels to let students know how to find things, we sometimes forget that labels help US too! Decorate boxes, trays, filing cabinets, rolling carts … whatever can be labeled SHOULD be labeled so you can use that big ol’ teacher brain for the important stuff — teaching your kids!
Flexible Seating Storage
If you love rocker chairs, you’ve probably already realized their benefits … and their challenges when it comes to classroom storage.
By using some bag hooks, Mrs. F realized the students could be responsible for putting the chairs back after using them! There are plenty of sturdy Command Hooks that could hold the weight of these seats too!
Photo courtesy of teacher Mrs. F.
Check out more ideas for using flexible seating in the classroom.
Ice Bin Turned Turn In Bin
Do you have a turn-in bin in the classroom so students know where to turn in their work when they’re done? If not, we highly recommend it! They help keep your teacher desk from becoming a mess of papers.
But you don’t have to get fancy — one of the teachers on our team uses ice bins from the dollar store for her turn-in bin. She has one bin for each student in the classroom, labeled with that student’s number!
Grab printable labels for your missing work bin!
Small Containers for Counters
This not only is a great way to store your counters and other manipulatives, but this classroom storage tip also saves a lot of time! If students need counters for individual or small group work, they grab a container, and off they go. No more having to stop what you are doing to pour out counters for students each time they need it. You and your students are able to go grab a container any time you need them! It’s a win-win!
Fourth-grade teacher Miss Van Dijk grabbed these containers from her local dollar store, and they’re also perfect for creating small sets of crayons for students to have at their individual desks!
Photo courtesy of fourth-grade teacher Miss Van Dijk
Dishwasher Pod Boxes
It’s getting harder and harder to find dishwashing detergent as more companies move to pods, but those boxes shouldn’t be chucked in the trash! They make for perfect storage for markers, pencils, or even all those math manipulatives. Best of all, with the flip-top lids, you can close them up and carefully store them in your classroom closet without worrying that you’ll lose small pieces.
Oh, and did we mention this is a cheap classroom storage idea? You’re literally turning “trash” into treasure!
Wooden Storage Container for the Win
Another one of our fabulous Instagram followers got creative with wooden Aldi storage caddies. She painted them these bright colors to brighten up her classroom. Best of all, they are perfect desk storage units for desk groups in the classroom. Or, why not use them for reading or math centers?
Letter Tiles Storage Solution
Teacher Miss Bingham is using one of these mini toolboxes (found at your local craft or hardware store) to store our printable letter tiles resource. No more shuffling through all the tiles to find the letters that you want to give to your students…
Photo courtesy of teacher Miss Bingham
Task Card Carabiners
Do you ever have so many sets of task cards that they get all mixed up? Or worse, you forget you even have them?
This clever idea by teacher Desiree Catherine will solve that problem. She got the large carabiner from her local hardware store, but you can also order them online and store each set of cards on individual binder rings to make them easier to find and get off!
Photo courtesy of graduate teacher Desiree Catherine of Queensland
Bulletin Board Border Storage Solution
Raise your hand if you just roll your bulletin board borders up and put a rubber band around them. We used to do that too, but it makes it tricky when it comes to unrolling them and using them again the next year. Instead of rolling, use a Command Hook and binder clips to hang your borders to keep them crisp and flat. Store inside the inside of your closet or tucked away in a corner where tiny hands won’t find them!
Check out our complete list of creative ways to store your bulletin board borders!
Classroom Cart Storage
We couldn’t write a classroom storage blog without featuring the famous IKEA utility cart! This cart can be used for so many things, including supplies for:
- Arts and crafts
- Board games
- Tech supplies (laptops, cords, headphones)
- Seasonal decor
- Paper (colored construction paper, lined paper, etc.)
- Station supplies (dedicate one cart per station with whatever supplies you may need)
- Miscellaneous supplies (rubber bands, paperclips, stapler, extra pencils, scissors, etc.)
Where to Buy Classroom Storage Supplies
Depending on where you’re located, there are a number of places you can look for classroom storage bins, shelving and other supplies without breaking the bank. Here are some tips from our teacher team:
- Dollar Store
- Goodwill/Thrift Store
- Facebook Marketplace
- Garage Sales
Where to Get Free Classroom Storage
Believe it or not, there are places you can go to get some of your storage needs covered without spending a dime! Try these ideas!
- “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups (search in your local area)
- School Cafeteria — Check your school’s cafeteria for unused milk crates. Ziptie them together to make shelves or cubbies!
- Head Custodian — Chat with your head custodian and see if there are any unused cabinets, shelves, tables, etc. in the school’s storage.
Need help with controlling the classroom clutter? Explore our back-to-school resources for teachers for ideas and printables!
Banner image via shutterstock/Monkey Business Images