8 Unconventional Art Room Organizers

Welcome to my Art Room! Here are 8 quick, easy, and affordable (sometimes FREE) tools you can use to help you organize your own room!

Want more tips for organizing the Art Room? Here you go!


Do you use any uncommon organization tools in your Art Room? Let me know in the comments!


7 years ago

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Redwards

    Very helpful! Would you mind sharing a picture of how you box your portfolios? Does each class have one Rubbermaid for them? Thanks!

    • Sure do, Redwards! Check out this post: https://theartofeducation.edu/2011/02/24/portfolio-ready-to-go/

  • Cute video – thanks for the tips!

  • Deb

    Great video and love the touch of music!  I loved hearing how you organize, and knowing that many of us think in similar ways!  One thing I have used a lot this year are a few dollar store trays.  They were extras from home and I didn’t know if I would even use them here at school.  They have been great for passing out wet materials like tempera paint, glazes, liquid watercolor, etc.
    As always, thanks for the inspiration!

    • David

      Dollar stores are GREAT!  I buy the cheap vinyl table cloths all the time for paper mache, clay, use under messy projects.  Use them up, roll them up,toss!

      • liz

        Dollar stores save me often. I buy their $3 white plastic shower curtain liners to cover our tables when using all mediums except graphite for drawing. Those liners are easy to wipe off and great to store in a $3 clear plastic box also from the dollar store. On a piece of yellow cardstock I print with a Deco paint pen what is stored in the box and attach to the inside front of the box. That way if I need to use the box for something else I just take the cardstock out and voila – a new box. I buy only clear plastic containers and label them all in this way so the storage cabinet looks neat with all the same yellow cardstock. The curtains last a few months and the boxes lasts forever.

  • I love the naked crayons!  Can’t wait to hear my kinders giggling.   Thanks for the tip about apple crates!  I am going to talk to the cafeteria staff tomorrow!! One thing I use in the very same way you use what you called box flats, is copy paper lids.  They are almost identical to the size you shared and like you, I am using these everyday!

    • David

      Me TOO!  Copy box lids everyday.  Apple crates, who knew?  I’m on the cafeteria manager tomorrow!!!

    • Copy paper lids are really nice, too. I might try those because they have a taller lip.

  • EHarrison

    Haven’t used the apple containers, will have to try those.  I use small garbage cans for clay, and have gym carts on the bottom so I can roll them around the room. Someone donated yards of vinyl car upholstery fabric that I cut up for clay canvases and they work great.

    • Gotta love something that is donated and is useful! I got a box of junk the other day.

    • Kathy Olson

      I keep my construction paper scraps in the box lids.  They stack up easy in a cabinet and then I just pull them out onto a table when we are using construction paper.

  • Erica Stinziani

    My favorite is the shallow box! Also I LOVE the baby food containers don’t you! The formula containers store all of my water all year. They are big and never spill and have an easy top so even if they fall most times they don’t spill. The little baby food containers with the lids store paint and glue forever. When stella gives up baby food (she loves it!) I will definitely ask moms to save them for me! ALSO One more thing. . . bottle caps! I have been using them for random stuff lately like liquid watercolor.

    • Good thinking with the baby food containers, Erica. I didn’t think of the formula containers, they are sure nice. 

  • Ms. Novak

    We have a student that eats applesauce everyday and they always bring us a stack of them at the end of the week.  They are PERFECT for tempra paint.  I put paint the the applesauce cups, then put those in the muffin tins — they NEVER tip or spill.  I also use them for glaze the same way!  LOVE IT.

  • Mcesayles

    Great ideas! 

  • Lauren Wenk

    Another cute video! Keep ’em coming!

  • Thepaintedbrick

    I use egg cartons for paint, sushi take out trays for everything, and greek yogurt containers for so many things in my room. I just ask the students to save up and they are so proud to bring in and help the Art room.

    • Yes, I once put a note in the newsletter and parents brought in tons of stuff, but only the stuff I requested. Was great for getting some baggies for clay, and other miscellaneous stuff that can add up (plus the free stuff). I called it an art room wish list. I will have to post about that soon.

  • Artsycat

    Another free source for strong shallow boxes (with lids!) is your local meat counter at the grocery store. Ask for the boxes that the meat comes in (the meat is in plastic so the boxes are very clean). You may have to ask several times as I’ve often gotten there a few hours after they have broken all the boxes down for recycling. These boxes come in a variet of depths (depending on what meat they were for) but are all basically the same large length and width (can easily store large paper in them, larger than a pop can tray bottom).

  • Heidi

    My favorite freebie storage idea… Go to the grocery store produce department early in the AM – when they’re stocking. Ask for their big cardboard produce crates. They’re about 6 inches deep, ventilated and have notches so they stack without slipping.and they’re really heavy duty. (Try to get all the same brand or the notches might not align.) These are my favorite way to dry/store model magic, air-dry clay or freshly painted 3-D projects! I can store multiple classes’ work safely in a small amount of floor space.

  • Melanie

    I use detergent lids as individual crayon cups or to hold oil pastels because as you know the boxes get crushed in about 2 seconds…My other go-to recycled containers are tin cans (used as pencil cups and circle tracers) and PB jars. The peanut butter jars store everything from feathers and buttons to oil pastels. I have used them for rolling clay, the lids become paint trays, etc. Options are endless.  My favorite thing is plastic soda trays! These are so handy for storing class sets of crayons, water cups, etc and I use them to separate my supplies by grade level for the day at the front of my room. Just asked the local grocery store one day and they were happy to hand them over :)

  • Artc1010

    I use ice cube trays for painting and cover the tray with foil. I put various colors in the squares and leave spaces for mixing colors.  The paint will last  quite awhile.  this reduces wasted paint and clean up time. 

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  • Cindy

    Baby wipes containers are thee best! Not only are they a nice size, but they don’t have holes in the sides for objects to slip through. When you are not using them, they stack together to save space. I use them in drawers to divide my pottery tools. I can pull the containers out of the drawer to clean them or set the tools out for the students to access. I also store “found objects” in them. The lids snap on snugly so they can be stacked. I labeled the contents on the ends with permanent marker. I have also used them as water containers when working with Pariscraft. I also have crayons stored in them. Seriously, a great container to help you organize your art room! :)

    • Great idea! I am also enjoying the containers that baby puffs come in. The snap lid is really nice. It sounds like you are really organized. Keep it up!

      • Cindy

        I had a professional organizing business for 7 years between teaching art in the States and art in Canada. I have many more ideas that have helped keep my room quite tidy.

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  • Evelin Hernandez

    Great video!!! I am looking to organize my oil pastels by color. Any tips or ideas? I need something easily accessible to kindergarteners but stackable as well for storage in a cupboard. Help!

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hey Evelin! I organize mine in the stackable, plastic spacemaker boxes. You could also do the clear (or fun!) Gladware disposable Tupperware! They also stack, and you’d be able to see colors from the outside! You can get them pretty cheap at Wal-mart. Slap a sticker or label on them noting the color and you’re good to go!