Keep Homework Supplies Organized and Out of the Way

I’ve got three kids in Elementary school again this year which means I also have about a zillion reading logs, spelling lists, library books, and flash cards to keep track of – not to mention pencils, scratch paper, and other misc. homework supplies.  Since I use my fridge strictly for urgent school stuff, I needed a spot to stash all the other day-to-day school paraphernalia.  Last year, I came up with this simple organizing solution.

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I purchased this plastic cart at WalMart for around $12.  I think it’s designed with scrapbookers in mind.  It has several small drawers on the top and three larger drawers below.  I keep it stashed in my front closet – just around the corner from the kitchen table where most of our homework happens.

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The smaller top drawers are dedicated to housing school supplies (I labeled them with my P-Touch labeler).  The first holds scratch paper and lined writing paper.  The second and third hold random school supplies like pencils, markers, crayons and erasers.  I also keep a few teaching aides in there such as timers, dice and post-its.  The fourth drawer holds all my dry-erase supplies because I love using dry erase boards to help my kids practice math and spelling.  I bought each of my kids a small Expo dry-erase board at WalMart for around $4 each.  I love them because they’re small enough to fit in the drawers and they’re lined on one side for easy handwriting practice.  You can find them near the Crayola stuff in the office supplies area.

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The three larger drawers are the kids’ “homework boxes”.  They each have their own and it’s labeled with their name.  Inside I have them keep their reading logs, spelling lists, library books, and any homework supplies that are specific to them (for example, they each have a set of math flash cards that are specific to their grade).

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I love the homework boxes because they’re so easy for my kids to work with.  Everything is at their height and it’s all in one place.  When they’re scrambling in the morning to find their library books my first question is always “Did you check your homework box?”  When it’s Friday morning and I’m trying to give my son a quick spelling refresher before his test, I have him grab his list from his box.  When I’m trying to get dinner going and there’s a mess of homework covering the table, I have them bring their boxes to the table and dump their stuff in.

I can’t say it’s the prettiest system in the world, but it works!  Remember, the goal of organization when it comes to family life is not to achieve perfect order.  The goal is to teach your kids to keep track of their own stuff and to see the benefits of staying organized.  In my opinion, it’s our job as a parents to provide the tools and training.  It’s their job to do the rest.  This inexpensive homework box is a great example of how you can do just that.   Just thought I’d pass it on.


16 Comments

  1. I love the idea. I just have an 18 month that opens all drawers and empties the contents. He also climbs unfortunately so I have not figured out how to keep things out of his reach. Any ideas?

    • Lol. I’ve got an 18 mo old too and it’s a constant battle to keep my cupboards closed. That’s why I keep our homework box in the coat closet – it has a door and a handle that he can’t turn…yet.

  2. I love your goals for organizing. That is exactly how I feel.

  3. I have this exact tower of drawers and I use it about the same way that you do. I think I got the idea from you years ago in our PA days. However, I don’t use the big boxes for homework, yet (I think it will evolve to that once all my kids go to big school). My kids make about 50 drawings a day and can’t stand to part with any of their drawings, so I designated one box for each kiddo. At the end of the day they can stash their art treasures and then while they are away I throw them out and they are none the wiser.

    Glad to have you back and posting more.

  4. I’m passing this on the parents of my students, if you don’t mind! I love your back to school tips! With 29 first graders, it’s a MUST for sanity and essential to reinforce at home! Thanks so much!

  5. thanks for the idea. will look to rearrange so I can get it in a closet with a door. Love your stuff!

  6. Thanks for the great idea! I had one “leftover” big drawer at the bottom and decided to use it for nutritious snacks. The kids know after school that they can get any 1-2 things out of the drawer without asking. So far it has been working perfect and it’s eliminated the “Mom can I have this? Mom can I have that?”

  7. thanks for the idea.

  8. Kati Resnick

    Love, love, love! Right now I use the drawers in my china hutch (in the dining/kitchen area) for their spelling lists, etc. ANd the cupboards under the hutch for paper, markers, pencils, etc. It’s all organized, but I’d love to use my hutch strictly for china and tablecloths and things like that. I’m trying to think of WHERE I could put this type of thing! Also, I’d like to use this for their work that they bring home. I keep EVERYTHING all year. (in the summer I go through the lot of it and only keep special things – good writing samples, awards, cute art projects, etc. – but it builds up to quite a mass during the year. I’d love to get that stuff out of my file drawer! hmmmmmmmmm. you’ve got me thinking! What about a “lingerie” type dresser (house is kind of rustic), or an end-table with drawers…… I just don’t have an out-of-the-way place to put it.

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