The Best Way to Store Small Supplies

Many of my most-used supplies are stored right on student work tables. But what about all of the other great supplies in the art room? Colored pencils, oil pastels, crayons and other small items present a unique challenge. It takes only one class period for students to destroy the boxes they come in, but if you put them all together in one bin, passing them out is a nightmare. Watch the video for a super simple solution.

For even more organizing tips, check out how Alecia uses recyclables to organize her supplies, and how one teacher stores units in Rubbermaid tubs.

How do you organize small supplies in your art room?  

Do you have a different system to share with us?

5 years ago

Amanda Heyn

Learning Team

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • Von Rugg

    Does anyone have any solutions to prevent kids from destroying erasers?

    • Denise

      Last year I bought those BIG erasers…and I put one out at each table (I teach middle school). These might be too big for elementary hands. Otherwise, I’d have to take a count at the end of each class OR leave them on my desk in an ice cube tray so I can easily see them as students come and go. A never ending issue!

  • In Middle School, I have a clipboard for signing out individual “special” supplies- sharpies, erasers, white out, Exacto knives. There was always someone eager to help be in charge of the clipboard for signing out, and signing the materials back in.
    Trader Joes sells its meat, and Meels on Wheels delivers its meals, in sturdy black plastic trays with 1″ sides. They stack. The meat trays are good for pastels, crayons, or markers . The Meals on Wheels ones have 2 or 3 compartments which are great for sorting beads or mosaic tiles. I also put tempera paint in baby food jars and 5or 6 jars fit in these trays. Then each table group gets one or two trays.
    I save the Prang watercolor cases after the paints are used up. I use The empty cases for Popsicle sticks and wooden styluses for clay work and metal emboss projects. One case per table. Label it, “Table 1”, etc.
    I use old coffee mugs with handles for colored pencils.

  • ronnidart

    I use smaller erasers with the cardboard wrappers. I give each student one at the start of class and make it an exit ticket when they leave.
    If they know they will need to return it at the end of class, they tend not to destroy them. If they don’t return it, they don’t get one next art and have to bring their own. The cardboard sleeve helps as well and makes it harder to drill with their pencils.