Workspace of the Week: Classrooms are workspaces, too

This week’s Workspace of the Week is MinsyMins’ kindergarten classroom:

As the school year comes to an end for most children here in the United States, we’ve decided to showcase this wonderfully organized kindergarten classroom. In particular, we were struck by the use of photographs as labels. As MinsyMins explains:

I took a digital photo of each group of manipulatives and then printed it out, laminated, and taped to the shelf. Now as the children replace the bins they look for the correct space. If you’re carrying bears you look for the bear photo. The best way to keep our items organized is for the kids to learn to do it themselves!

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

26 Comments for “Workspace of the Week: Classrooms are workspaces, too”

  1. posted by EJ on

    Very cute and oh so tidy! Can I ask where the white bins are from? I’m looking for something like them for my 2-year-old’s toys.

  2. posted by Dorothy on

    Super, and I so agree with MinsyMins: If a child is old enough to get a toy out to play with, he or she is old enough to put it away when done.

  3. posted by JustGail on

    Very nice classroom! Love the photos for labels, although, I’d probably consider putting the words with the pictures. The North Scott school district here in Iowa uses cartoon characters for the buses, not numbers. Apparently it’s cut way down on the number of kindergarteners who can’t remember the bus they need to be on by the end of the day.

    EJ – I’ve seen those bins (or very close to the same) at Target, K-Mart, Walmart, etc. I have a couple and they are much sturdier than the little mini clothes basket types of bins.

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @EJ — I don’t know exactly the basket used, but maybe the Slugis from Ikea could work?

    Or the Clear Handled Storage basket from Container Store:

  5. posted by Erin Doland on

    @EJ — Oh wait, maybe these are them: Dot Baskets from the Container Store:

  6. posted by EJ on

    Thanks, everyone! How nice to find out that lots of places have similar bins.

  7. posted by Dawn F on

    This teacher rocks! What an amazing organizing system!


  8. posted by Rebecca on

    At home we also put a picture label with a word label as well on the box or crate the item lives in. It makes cleaning up a lot easier for parents too. And it helps teach kids that things in life have “homes” too and they need to put stuff back where it belongs so they can find it again later.

  9. posted by EJ on

    This is a lovely classroom but its pretty standard, also. i’ve toured way too many K classes, and this is what they look like. Also many preschools. The visual labelling is a great thing for kids.

  10. posted by Ris on

    This is brilliant. Getting kids to pick up after themselves can be so hard but with pictures it’s easy to start early!

  11. posted by chacha1 on

    Absolutely agree with JustGail and Rebecca, the photos alone are terrific but adding a word would be educational.

    Wish I’d had a classroom like that when I was little!

  12. posted by Steve Clement on

    This is my 22nd year teaching primary.
    I just started labeling shelves with pictures this year.
    It works great!
    I have different shelves for math centers, word work centers, and toys and games for free choice and rainy day recess.
    Every morning my students use clothespins with their pictures glued to them to sign up for the various stations. Red clothespins for word work, yellow for math centers, and green for free choice. They clip their clothespins on long pieces of tagboard next to the pictures of the manipulatives they wish to use. Two (or three) children can sign up for each activity.
    I’ve placed velcro on three long pieces of tagboard which makes it easy for me to switch pictures and change which manipulatives are available at each center each week.

  13. posted by MinsyMins on

    The bins are from Target or Wal-mart. They are the Sterilite brand – very light, easy for kids to carry and very easy to clean/disinfect.

    I have a LOT of pictures with word labels around my classroom – pencils, paper, caddies, markers, clock, door, etc. and this is one space that I felt could use solely photos. I’ve been in a lot of classrooms where there is just too much – too much on the walls, on the tables, on the shelves – and it can be overwhelming for kids. Especially little ones or those with special needs (my class is full inclusion – special needs, kids who speak no English, etc).

    If you check out the rest of the photos in the pool you can see where I’ve chosen to pair words with photos.

    Thank you for the kind words. 🙂 You can see the before photos on the Flickr site also!

  14. posted by We Live Simply link love | we live simply :: learning to live simply so others may simply live on

    […] :: Workspace of the Week: Classrooms are workspaces, too 25 Areas of Digital Clutter to […]

  15. posted by terriok1 on

    It does not look to me that the kids are using the manipulatives much.

    Even in a Montessori class, where the kids are trained to be organized, does not look that good.

    You bet kids can be taught to put toys away but…

    I have never seen a classroom look like that.

    More power to you!

    The ideas of photos is a great one. I have done it myself. :o) They often cannot read.

  16. posted by Jen on

    As an upper grade teacher, I also use these same bins. We do not have permanent furniture in our rooms. We have rolling cabinets and those bins are great for organizing supplies to store in them. I also found that most paperback books will fit in them and then can be taken off the shelf and taken to a table.

  17. posted by Kate on

    Those with questions or critiques should take the time to look through the whole collection of photos and informative captions on Flickr — this is truly a great project. Congratulations, MinsyMins, your students are really lucky!

  18. posted by Chuck on

    Great post…glad to see a classroom make it onto the WOTW. I bet it is a public school classroom led by a highly-effective public school teacher. And for a change…she’s not getting bashed. Okay, off my soapbox. Love the organization scheme!

  19. posted by terriok1 on

    I apologize. I was just a little taken aback. It is obvious that the teacher works very hard!

  20. posted by Nancy on

    I’m a big fan of the baskets from Really Good Stuff. They are a teacher resource company, but they sell a mind-boggling array of baskets and organizing tools for classrooms and offices. I order from them every year and drool when the catalog comes in the mail.

  21. posted by leansim on

    Great example of organization. Also perfect for teaching adults the basics of 5S and visual controls for their own workspaces!

  22. posted by Margaret on

    Love it — I’m going to use it as inspiration to deal with my kids’ stuff at home, which is my next big project.

  23. posted by Tiffanie on

    Is it strange that I was more touched by the bear toys than anything else? While the overall pictures is quite pleasing and organized – I was transported to 6 years old just by those bears 🙂 I immediately remembered the smell and touch of them. Thanks for bringing that memory back 🙂

  24. posted by Leonie on

    Kudos to you!
    Especially as you had to use your own money to buy some of the baskets.

    Did anyone catch the reference to her keeping some of the toys/materials in a closet and switching them out – “too many toys can be overwhelming” (I paraphrase).

    thanks for the reminder!

  25. posted by Lynne on

    Congratulations MinsyMins – well done on enabling the students to look after their own workspace.

  26. posted by Jana on

    From one kinder teacher to another…this is BEAUTIFUL!!!

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