You must be logged-in in order to download this resource. If you do not have an AOE account, create one now. If you already have an account, please login.Login Create Account
Great! you're all signed in. Click to download your resource.Download
At the semester break, art teachers get a moment to stop, breathe, and rest. You have made it through so many stressors—including supply management. When you have as many students and materials as art teachers do, it can be hard to manage where everything goes or keep track of what you have on hand. As the first semester winds down and you look ahead to the second, now is the time to reassess and reorganize your supplies.
Many art teachers love to hoard and collect. We hate parting with items because we definitely can use them one day! Knowing exactly what you have available for your students is important. And that means putting everything on the table. Literally. No matter how long you have been in your classroom, it’s likely there are supplies you have forgotten, lost, or weren’t aware of in the first place. So go through every cabinet, every drawer, and pull everything out.
As you look through what you have, consider each item:
This can be overwhelming if you do it at once, so do it in spurts. Break the process down by location or type of supplies. It can also be less daunting to do it with your students! According to EdWeek, classroom jobs and helpful tasks give students ownership of the art room and build a sense of community. Students love to help with these special jobs because it tells them they are responsible, and they get secret supply closet access.
Take advantage of your early finishers and give them a simple and specific task to complete:
For more student jobs that will help you around the classroom, check out our 40 Student Cleanup Jobs that you can download and print today!Download Now!
Once you know what you have, organize it, and put it away. Think about how you have stored your supplies until now—what worked and what didn’t?
Some other considerations as you organize supplies may include:
Find ways to use labels, pictures, and color-coding to make your supplies accessible for as many students as possible. Labeling supplies with images and words helps younger students and students who are English Language Learners. When it comes to sorting by color and seeing everything presented by color, even your oldest students will love it. Since color is eye-catching, students are more likely to recall information if it’s color coded.
If you are looking for quick ways to get custom labels or hacks to make your own, there are tons of possibilities! Browse around and find something that will fit your needs and the needs of your classroom.
Here are three ideas:
We are all familiar with the art rooms decked out in rainbow order. Even if this is not your jam, there are still many ways to color sort that will make organization easier without compromising your classroom aesthetics.
Here are two suggestions:
One option for this is table caddies. Many classrooms have one plastic tool caddy on each table to store daily necessities, including pencils, erasers, hand sharpeners, glue sticks, and a few dry erase boards and markers. The caddies are usually plastic, making them easy to wipe down and sanitize. These caddies help manage supplies because they eliminate some of the time it takes for supply distribution and cleanup.
Art-specific caddies can be expensive! Some other budget-friendly alternatives include:
In addition to organizing supplies in caddies by table, you can also organize by medium or project:
You do want to set the norm that these caddies are a place to store supplies—they are not a place to throw used paper towels or garbage! Consider including a laminated checklist of what belongs in each caddy and assign a responsible student to inspect the caddies at the end of each period.
Now that you know what supplies you have and have taken the time to organize them, it’s time to consider your mid-year order. Many teachers have a one-time budget. If this applies to you, you will need to stock up at the end of the school year or the beginning of next. It is still a good practice to keep a running list of what you need throughout the year. That way, it’s ready to go when you compile your final order.
If you have an opportunity for a mid-year order, your budget may be lower than at the beginning of the year. Consider what you really need for the upcoming semester. Plan how to use and reuse what you already have to make the most of your funds. What do you have a surplus of? How can you use that supply with at least two different levels you teach? As artists and art teachers, we are known for our resourcefulness. Our ability to reuse spent supplies is a big part of that!
Here are three resourceful ways to use what you have:
If you want a deeper look into reusing spent supplies or non-traditional art supplies, check out the links below:
The time to pause and breathe between semesters is something we all look forward to. As we enjoy this lull in the chaos that is teaching art, it is the perfect time to consider your students’ artmaking materials. Know what you already have and reconsider some organizational solutions that aren’t quite working for you and your students. Then, get excited for the next semester. Now is the time to slow down and reset, so both you and your supplies are refreshed and ready to finish the year strong!
What is one organizational hack that you think every art teacher should know about?
What is one supply storage problem you are going to tackle next semester?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.