Are you sick and tired of reorganizing your crayon storage at home? Got a stack of coloring books that no one is interested in? Or worse yet, do you just repeatedly buy brand new crayons?
As a teacher, it was pretty rare that we got to do any coloring in third grade. Third is the first testing year in Texas, so the fluffy projects start to diminish rapidly in ELAR and math. Bummer. On the rare occasion that we had reason to color with an assignment, it would irritate me that kids wouldn’t put their best effort forth. After all, even fun projects should be quality, right?
Then I realized that kids were feeling uninspired by their supplies. They had crayons, colored pencils, and markers available to them. But in spite of us having decent quality crayons, they didn’t do much with them.
Our campus shares all school supplies, so I needed a way to give kids access to shared supplies (pre-Covid) without them ending up a disorganized mess. The last thing you need is a line of 10 kids, with one kid digging in a massive bucket for the perfect shade of chartreuse. CHAOS!
Finally, I found something that worked in the classroom and at home. It’s not complicated or particularly fancy, but it makes a huge difference!
Step 1: Choose 7 matching containers for crayon storage.
In my classroom, I knew I wanted to put the crayons, colored pencils and markers out in plain sight. At the Target dollar spot, I found 7 matching tin pails that were perfect for the job. Amazon has something very similar, but the Target ones were both cheaper and slightly less expensive at only a dollar a pop.
However, my daughter doesn’t have much surface space in her room. For her, I wanted something that could fit inside her shallow desk drawers. Below is what I chose from TJ Maxx one day.
These measure about 3x5x2(ish)
However, if I had to do it all over again, I’d buy these! Perfect size, perfect price.
Step 2: Sort every crayon, colored pencil, and marker by color into the bins.
With 7 baskets, you have enough for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple (6) and a single additional basket to hold all neutrals (black, white, tan and brown). But what to do with the pink? Go nuts, Mama. You can put it with the red, or be all rebellious and put it with purple.
I used to sort by material. I put all the colored pencils in one big container, all the crayons in another, and markers in a third.
Got messy kids? I have some tips for that!
But when you are trying to create a bit of art, you’re never looking for any random color. You want a specific shade of something, right? And kids are SOOOOO visual. So I solved all our art supply problems at home and school by sorting everything by color. It speeds everything up, especially in the classroom.
Here you can see how neatly the little trays fit inside my daughter’s desk drawer. Notice that baskets are mixed with different materials in the same color family. Whether you need an orange marker, colored pencil or crayon, you go to the same bucket.
Step 3: Enjoy! And look for other opportunities to sort kid stuff by color.
Can you tell it’s bothering me to not have a third step? This is the most basic tutorial ever!
To summarize, kids really do love organization, but they struggle to categorize things. If you sort by color, whether it’s your kids’ library by book spine or art supplies, they’ll almost always do better when sorting by color.