How can we use classroom storage systems to honor children’s works in progress

Summer is a great time to re-evaluate storage in the classroom, especially when it comes to providing children options for storing items they create. Finding a place for extra bins and shelves may not be easy. Consider using the backs of doors, a portion of a shelf, the side of your cubbies, and other small spaces in your classroom.

Giving children their own special place to keep their works in progress communicates to them that we honor and understand their process and ongoing work. It also creates a sense of autonomy and belonging in the classroom. Encouraging children to use these storage systems supports them in being responsible for their work and cleaning up their space.

Children are prolific creators. They can fill up bins, shelves, and baskets in a very short period of time. Some challenges that frequently came about in early childhood classrooms regarding storage are:

  • Most of the time during their creative process, children aren’t writing their names on their works in progress, art, and representational writing How do we keep track of that work and make sure it gets to its rightful owner?
  • How do we honor the process of children’s work and help them save their works in progress to come back to at another time?
  • Where will we keep it all?

Here are some options that can provide storage throughout the classroom:

Picture Ledge Shelves
These shelves are a great and personal solution for storing children’s work. They do require a pretty significant amount of wall space, but this option frees up a lot of counter and/or shelf space in the end. During installation, measure to make sure a piece of paper could stand up horizontally and label each shelf with children’s names and photos. This shelving system can encourage autonomy for the children. They can use the labels as samples when writing one another’s names and they’ll know there is a safe place for their special items that will be respected by everyone. These shelves also can remove a lot of the anxiety around clean up and the “I’m not done yet!” feeling. The children can place their work on their shelves and come back to it later.

Letter Tray
This is a great storage option if you don’t have wall space to work with. It takes up minimal counter top or shelf space. Each section pulls out from the unit making it easy for children to access their work. The example item shown also features a cork lining which is an absorbent surface for any artwork that might still be wet when put away. The little ledges on each level are the perfect place for name labels!

Hanging Magazine Rack
These wall racks can be hung at the child’s level so they can store their art and representational writing work. They are great space savers and the most compact of all! These shelves can be hung on the wall or even on the back or sides of a shelving unit with some heavy duty adhesive strips. They feature plenty of space for labels and pictures.

When these storage units start to feel full, encourage the children to go through them and make choices about what is still a work in progress, ready to go home, or display in the classroom.

Have other great storage solutions you’d like to share? Comment or link them in the comments section below!

Jordan Kaseeska is the Education Specialist at Kodo Kids. She received her undergraduate degree from Colombia College Chicago in Early Childhood Education and went on to earn her masters degree from University of Colorado- at Denver in Education and Human Development with a focus in Early Literacy. She has used her passion for constructionist style teaching in both public and private early childhood and elementary schools.