Top BTS Picks to Organize 1st-3rd Graders

Teacher Shares Top BTS Picks for Helping 1st-3rd Graders Get Organized

Picture of elementary school teacher Connie Jameson

By Connie Jameson, elementary school teacher

Helping early elementary students get organized for 23 years

My name is Connie Jameson and I have been an elementary teacher for 1st through 3rd grade for 23 years. As a teacher, helping students learn how to get organized for school is key for their success.

When a student is organized and supplies are made available, learning becomes less challenging. Students don’t waste time looking for their materials or assignments, they can just focus on learning.

The supplies I use in my classroom help students organize their work and also learn to organize on their own. Organization is a skill that will set them up for academic success all the way through college, and is an important life skill in general.

This is my list of back-to-school supplies that help me teach basic organization techniques for students and how I use them in my classroom:

Avery binder filled with Avery school supplies including dry erase markers, highlighters, sheet protectors and plastic dividers for back to school. The binder is surrounded by second grade work books and worksheets, colored pencils, cute erasers, other back to school supplies for kids and a plushy turtle.

Recreate Mrs. Jameson’s “organization home base” for your student with a durable 1 inch binder and plastic dividers.

1 inch binder, organization home base

Every year I provide each student with a 1 inch binder for organizing school materials instead of a folder. Binders are more durable than paper folders, even the laminated ones. Within that binder is an agenda, a sheet protector, a divider with pockets and a pencil pouch.

Agenda

An agenda is used for students to write down their daily assignments and organize their tasks, which is a useful habit to start early. Using an agenda allows students to practice time management skills for classwork and homework. It is also a form of communication between home and school. Parents sign the agenda informing the teacher that homework is completed.

Sheet protectors

I use sheet protectors two ways in my classroom. The first use is for organizing within the main binder. Weekly spelling lists are placed in the sheet protectors so students can refer to them for homework.

The second use is to create individual “whiteboards” for students. As a public school, we cannot afford individual whiteboards for our students. So, our teachers get creative and use sheet protectors instead. We insert cardstock inside the sheet protectors to use as a whiteboard.

Dividers with pockets

Dividers with pockets are essential for the main binder because they do double duty. They are used to store worksheets and also separate homework by subjects so students get used to sorting and organizing learning materials.

Two images of a wooden school table filled with colored pencils, cute erasers and plushy toys. On the right side there is a blank sheet of paper used with Avery sheet protectors and dry erase markers for a makeshift whiteboard. On the left side is an Avery binder used to organize student progress during the school year.

Make organization easier by reusing and condensing. Make any paper or worksheet reusable using sheet protectors and record your students’ progress through the in one simple ½ inch binder.

Highlighter and dry erase markers

Every student is given their own highlighter to keep in their binder. It is used to highlight important information or vocabulary words for comprehension or letters for spelling patterns.

Colorful dry erase markers are provided to use with the sheet protectors as a “whiteboard.” When I’m working with students using their “whiteboards,” I also use the different colors of dry erase markers to organize the students into groups without them realizing it.

Pencil pouch

A pencil pouch for inside the binder organizes writing supplies and keeps everything contained in one place. That way students have the supplies to do their homework wherever they are.

If students are unable to complete their homework at home, we have them take their binder out to recess. Besides using the binder to store and organize all their materials, students can also use it like a clipboard or a portable desk to do homework on in the playground.

½ inch binder for student data

In their main 1 inch binder students organize classwork and homework on a daily basis. Additionally, my classes also use ½ inch binders as student data notebooks. Students keep their school goals, tests and diagnostic results in that notebook.

Using their student data notebook, I teach them to keep track and analyze their scores using bar graphs. Organizing data for analysis is a pretty sophisticated skill. The student data notebook is a simple introduction to data organization for young elementary students.

Tracking progress helps students improve over time. Students learn to reflect on the work they have done, and think critically about how they can achieve better results. It also helps build confidence by showing them the direct results of putting in more effort or taking extra steps to improve.

Teaching organization skills early sets students up for success

Getting organized for school is both a way to help students learn and a lesson in and of itself. In the “here and now” supplies that help students get organized allow them focus on their studies. Practicing good organization habits early helps set students up for success throughout their academic journey.

Organization skills include everything from physically organizing supplies, to time management, planning and organizing thoughts and ideas. When I teach my students how to get organized for school, I am really teaching them how to get organized for life.

Avery Tip: To shop school supplies and explore more ideas for helping your student succeed, check out our back-to-school resource page

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