Another important classroom skill is organizing materials. The beginning of the school year is so hectic on its own, why make it worse by not having a plan for all those student supplies?
Plastic rectangular baskets from a dollar store are my favorite weapon against clutter. My trade books are separated by reading levels, genre, and/or holidays. In my supply cabinets, there are baskets for writing utensils, crayons, craft supplies, and markers. I even use two baskets near my desk to collect and return papers which are labeled accordingly "IN" and "OUT". But, the very best way to organize student materials is to find a way to have a community collection and divide the wealth accordingly.
When my students come to school in August with their backpacks full of new school supplies, several things occur. First, they unload everything onto their desk so we can sort through it. First, they label their rulers and scissors with a black permanent marker (they are third graders). I then collect all and place in a drawer for easy access when needed. Next, they put out the various colored folders they have brought, along with their dictionary, and flash cards; to which I hand them a freshly printed sheet of address labels with their name. They label these fine items and put away in their desk or cubby.
Last, but certainly not least, the students will make piles of things such as crayons, markers, pencils, glue sticks, red pens, and highlighters on my front table. From these piles, I will place a small amount in a plastic basket which sits in the center of a cluster of student desks (I have four clusters of desks in my classroom). The pencils are placed sharpened side down in a large cup that also sits in the basket, which in turn, sits on top of a colorful vinyl covered place mat. The rest of the supply piles are neatly arranged in an upper cupboard and will be rationed out to the individual groups as they are used up.
Our classroom becomes a community in spirit AND supplies!