Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tricks of the Trade: Classroom Library Organization

Greetings from Arizona!

I am currently sitting in the airport waiting for my super delayed flight to leave, so I can go home and sleep!  However, I cannot be that annoyed because I have my laptop with me, so I can be productive working on school stuff and blogging (of course).

My sister's wedding was great!  I spent Friday and Saturday running around like crazy helping to get everything done, but then got to enjoy the celebration Saturday night.  I am so happy for Carrie and Zach and I wish them all the best.

Anyhow, now it's time to use my excessive amount of extra time trapped in Phoenix to finally finish my Tricks of the Trade post.  Let me just say that I am sorry I was unable to host/link up on the Thursday.  I was just going crazy with grades being due and getting ready to fly out for the wedding.

Even though I am late to my own party, I am still excited to share my tricks of the trade with you and would love to invite all of you to be fashionably late with me. :-)

Dollar Store Bins
As a poor first year teacher, I was unsure of how to organize my books.  At first, I thought I would just build shelves out of crates turned on their sides, but then I discovered that my classroom actually already had shelves in it!  Imagine that!  Hehehe.

After discovering that, I knew for sure that I wanted to put my books in bins by level and genre.  However, I was not sure I could afford the bins from any of the great educational sites, so I was still unsure of what to do...until one day when I walked into the Dollar Tree and saw there before my eyes...bins!!

There were bins of all shapes, sizes, and colors!  They were sturdy plastic, the perfect size, and just plain cute.  I was sold.

Now, my books are stored in two different kinds of bins: black mesh-style ones for the big picture books and little colorful ones for everything else.  They are the perfect size for easy-readers and leveled books. Both types of bins fit great on my shelves and hold a lot of books.  The little ones are incredibly sturdy, which is great cause the kids pull them off the shelves and dig through them a lot.  The black ones have worked very well too, although when one fell of the shelf, some of the plastic slats broke.  I am not quite sure how that happened.  I will blame it on an overly eager reader!

My future goal for these bins is to make them more color-coordinated.  Right now, my leveled library is all light blue and most of the nonfiction books are green, but my other author and genre books are a mish-mash of crazy colors.  When I first planned my classroom, I thought, "the more color the better."  Now, I am trying to make things a bit more calm and uniform with blues and greens being my main colors.

Tie Labels
After trying various kinds of tape and methods of taping labels onto my bin labels, I came across the idea for tying them on instead.  I ended up hole punching each card twice, threading the string through the holes in the card and the bins, and voila, perfectly secure labels!  I am never going back to tape.

Book Baggies

Every Monday, my students shop for new books for the week.  They store them in their own numbered gallon Ziploc bags.  They are then able to grab these bags quickly and easily during reading time.  The bags are stored in numbered bins on top of one of the library bookshelves.  

Where I Buy

Scholastic- If you are not a Scholastic Book Club member, you are missing out BIG time.  I love getting tons of free and affordable books from them when parents order for their kids.

Amazon- Super cheap, gently used books are the way to go.  The only bummer is shipping.

Library Sales- These are either hit or miss, but any treasures you find are really cheap.  Check out your local library website or newsletter to find out when these are happening.

Goodwill- Again, hit or miss, but I've loaded up on over 100 books for less than $50 before.

Strand Books

The Strand- If you are ever in NYC, you MUST visit The Strand.  It's a ginormous bookstore with TONS of new and used books for all ages of readers.  I've picked up some really affordable children's books there plenty of times.  Rose, Jessica, and I actually went there yesterday and I found some treasures.

Wow, that was so much fun!  I love my classroom library!  

I also love Jessica's library, so be sure to go check hers out.  She has some great tricks of the trade and some freebies.

Joy in the Journey
We would LOVE to have you share your library tricks of the trade, even though it's late, you are still welcome to the party!  Please grab the button and link up below!



  1. Tie labels...what a great idea. I have several baskets with holes like that and the hot glue never holds very long. :) Thanks
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. I love Dollar Tree baskets! I also use white ice buckets, not sure if that's the technical term! They are real cheap and you can stack quite a few on a shelf. I've had mine for many years now and they are still in good condition! You can find them in the house gadget section at Wal-Mart. And, the labels don't fall off!


    An Apple a Day in First Grade