Math Manipulatives, Crayons, and Big Lots!

Today I was working in my classroom, with Amy's new album playing in the background (that girl is the soundtrack to my life!), cleaning out the Math and Science cupboard. I had no idea what was really in there, because it is a nice deep cupboard. Everything got dragged out, inspected, and reorganized - not to mention the stuff that went in the trash.

Let me back up a little bit...yesterday, I got on my stepladder and pulled out all of my bins, crates, tubs, and baskets. Together with what I had already cleaned out, there was enough to cover six desks, and that was stacked.  I did mention that the OCD thing is really an inside joke with my family and friends, well because it might be a tiny issue.   Finally, I had a rational epiphany and decided that the INSIDE OF MY CUPBOARDS just needed to be functional and organized, and not PERFECTLY MATCHED in the newest graphics.  Self intervention was called for, and despite my overwhelming desire to make my cupboards look Pinterest worthy, and I decided to try to use everything I had before buying anything elseI am obsessed with Pinterest, but it will mess with your mind!  So, the following pictures are not necessarily pretty and all matchy-matchy, but it works!

First, a few of my favorite and most used manipulatives, and one that I had totally forgotten about.
 These are my number lines that I made around 12 years ago.  They were a little labor intensive, but well worth it!  I used the number line tape that comes in rolls.  You are supposed to tape to their desks, but I knew that it would not last that way.  I put the tape on to cut strips of tag board, then laminated them, and re-cut them.  We use them most of the year, and is a go-to for many students even when we don't use them in a "lesson."
 These are my number tiles.  I am a huge Marcy Cook fan, to the point that I was giddy when she asked me to help her pass out gummi bears at a workshop:)  My best friend's mom let me use her tiles when I was still student teaching.  My first year teaching (that would be 25 years ago, eek!), I went to a tile store to buy my own tiles.  The manager found me near tears standing next to the boxes because I realized that no way could I afford to buy enough for a class-set.  After explaining why I needed them, he told me to pull my truck around back.  He loaded several boxes of tiles into the back and said that they were remnants from a big job.  He wouldn't take any payment, he just told me to be a good teacher and to share them with other teachers.  These are the same tiles:)  Some have never been used, some sets have been given away and lent out, and every time I use my set I think of that incredibly nice man:)
These digits and place value cards I had totally forgotten about!  They make a great interactive way to review place value.  One team of students get the place value cards and they have to line up in the right order without talking.  After reading a number aloud, several times, a second team takes the numbers and stands at the right "place value" in line.    
I literally inherited these cool space containers from one of my longtime colleagues who passed away last summer.  I chose to use them for all of my smaller items - like die, play money, and spinners.  The crates give me the ability to pull them out or slide them without moving a stack of small boxes.
This is what the final product looks like.  The big blue tub slides out like a drawer, and other frequently used items are in the front of the cupboard.  Like I said, not pretty, but functional.
A list of what is in each tub or crate is broken down by shelf and taped to the inside of the cupboard door.  Hopefully, that way I won't forget what is in the depths of my cupboard and it should make easier for students to access items.
Next were the crayons.  I had seen this pin on Pinterest from Going Nutty In Ms. Squirrel's Class.

And the dang thing will not center!  I knew that the drawers would not fit in my cupboard, and that they would not alleviate the traffic jam at the crayons.  So, I sorted them into more Space Savers.
It works:)

And now onto BIG LOTS!  After surveying all of my remaining containers, I realized that I did not have any that would hold the Read 180 audio books and look nice on the bookcase.  So, I went to the Mother Store (it is right next to the distribution center), to look specifically for the right containers.  Big mistake!  I had not had the luxury of meandering through Big Lots in years.  But look at what I found!  I wanted to get it out there because things don't last very long at Big Lots.
Contact paper for $2 a roll!  Again, I blame this purchase on Pinterest.
Pots and Pans Vertical Organizer - $3.50!  It can be used for files, or to organize construction paper (which is what I plan on using it for).  So much cheaper than desktop vertical organizer.
Two big plastic tablecloths for $2.  I have a bright pink one on one of the walls in my classroom framed out with border like a bulletin board.  Tablecloths are so easy to put up on the wall and last forever!  Or they can be used as a cheap drop-cloth for when the kids are painting.
 They had thicker tablecloths in a variety of patterns and colors for $4.25.  And if you teach 5th grade and do Colonial America, they had cool flag themed ones with the 4th of July stuff.
They had the cutest plates!  I use them for border accents and to frame letters for bulletin boards.  Cute colors, shapes, and patterns for $1-$2!
In the school supply section they had these beautiful file folders, 12 for $2 and 8 for $3!
Not to mention Post-it notes for $1.50 and huge bottles of hand sanitizer for $2.

And I didn't find the right organizers for my Read180 audio books.  Please don't judge me....Now I have to figure out how to smuggle my deals past the secretaries tomorrow...

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