Math Enrichment & Filing Cabinet Organization

Hi, Teachers!

Things have been pretty crazy on this end! We go back to school on September 1st, so I'm trying to get ready for my kids this year.

Those of you who know me personally and are familiar with how things run in my room know that I love having enrichment activities available that my kids can always work on when they finish early. My super, amazing, and talented cooperating teacher started me thinking about this, and some of my awesome colleagues and supervisors now have continued me thinking along this path. This applies in all subject areas. In reading and writing, I follow the workshop model, so there's always something else for the students to do. In science and social studies, I have books and artifacts that students can read or explore. Math is really fun, because my students get to work on TONS of different things. Sometimes it's a project, sometimes it's a game, sometimes it's some brain-teasers or word problems. Either way, it's always something fun and challenging! You might remember my old post about some of my favorite math enrichment activities.

My most popular item in my store is a student-created "I Have, Who Has?" place value project. It's listed as "FREE Place Value Enrichment Activity - DIY "I Have, Who Has?" in my store. In short, I listed criteria for students to create their own game. This product has been featured on other blogs and pages (like Evelyn Stevenson's First Grade Class), and I've actually had a few people contact me about this game asking for me to create some more student-created "I Have, Who Has?" projects and criteria.

Well, I listened and thought it was a great idea! I am going to be using these in my classroom all year. I've created a new product: Math Enrichment Activities Pack: Student-Created "I Have, Who Has?"! Here's a preview:
A Word On Third

These math activities are perfect for your early-finishers to work on while your class is studying any subject in math! This pack focuses on: the CCSS math practices, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, rounding, place value, and fractions! You can still use any of these activities at any time during the year though. For example, if you've already finished your unit on addition and choose to pull out the addition enrichment in this activity, it just gives your early finishers the added benefit of review. By nature, all of these projects are differentiated; your students will create finished products based on their current abilities. With almost no prep, this is very teacher-friendly! The only materials you need are index cards/construction paper cut into cards and a few copies. Here's an added bonus: if you use your students’ games during whole-class instruction or Morning Meeting, you will really support your sense of community within your classroom, and you will have additional classroom math tools to use! Your students will be creating possible enrichment activities for other students when they make these games also. Head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to check it out!

Now... onto my classroom! I'm just getting back into my room now. Here's what it looks like right now... eeeek!!!

Here's what everything looks like from the doorway. AHH!!! You can see a tan filing cabinet in the back there, and brown paper is covering most of my classroom library. I've also got another book shelf on the wall hiding behind my filing cabinet.

Here's the corner where my desk is. I've got one filing cabinet and a wrapped up book shelf here too.

Here's what the room looks like from my doorway if you immediately look to the left. You can see that ALLLLLL of my stuff is popping out of my closet. I feel my blood pressure rising right now!

And here's the closet. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. SO. MUCH. STUFF. AHHHH.

And this is how I feel right now looking back at all of these pictures I took for you. I only have two weeks to make this a functioning space again. AHHH! How many of you can relate to this facial expression/feeling?

Anyway, I knew that I had to tackle something, and I decided to work on my filing cabinets. I have a love-hate relationship with these bad boys!!! They take up SO. MUCH. SPACE. However, they can be really useful if you use them strategically. First things first--I knew I wanted to get rid of one of my cabinets. I have two, and a lot of the stuff inside of them is stuff I don't use from the teacher who had this room before I did. I took EVERYTHING out of both cabinets. I threw out at least half of the stuff. Okay... I didn't throw it out, but I am donating it to teachers who might want it! The bottom line is that I'm getting rid of it, getting it out of my room, and making more space! Whatever doesn't get taken will be donated to my public library or thrown out if it's garbage. I found lots of stuff from different grades that I don't teach. Yes, it's possible I'll teach those grades in the future, but here's my general rule of thumb: throw it out if you don't see yourself using it this year, or throw it out if you haven't used it this past year. I really don't miss anything I've gotten rid of so far, and I highly doubt you will either. As teachers, we can get overly ambitious sometimes and hold onto stuff we have no immediate use for. The truth is that we teachers are resourceful, and most of the time we can figure out something else to use. So, teachers... GET IT OUT!!!

Now my little corner looks like this. I've gone from two filing cabinets two one! Wahoooo! (Keep in mind that my garbage can is in a temporary home!) My goal for next year is to get rid of my desk. I have gone desk-less in the past, and I really liked it. Pushing my desk against the wall made a lot of extra space for the classroom though. Next year I'll probably leave my desk in my classroom, but make it a surface for student materials rather than a teacher work-space. I have to leave something where my desk is so that I can put my laptop on it-that's where my smart board wires are.

Now that I've taken ALL of my files out of my filing cabinets (do you see them all stacked on the window sill?), I will have one drawer for literacy stuff, one for math stuff, one for science stuff, and one for social studies stuff. I'm totally stoked. I can never find stuff because I just threw everything into the open drawers I had. That's kind of what you have to do when you move classrooms and have limited time to set up! This year, however, I've got plenty of time to set up, and I'm not switching grade levels. Ahhh, sweet releif! However, the Type A personality in me is not happy with the look of my actual filing cabinet. I'm planning to make it over on the cheap! Therefore, I don't want to put my files back in until my cabinet is finished!

Click on the above picture if you'd like some cute filing cabinet makeover inspiration. I found this link on Pinterest and pinned it to my Word On Third account. It's on my Classroom Design, Decor, and Organization board. I haven't decided if I will paint my filing cabinet with chalk board paint and use contact paper on the drawers, use contact paper on the whole thing, or spray paint the whole thing. I'm going to go with whatever option is cheapest. :) Have you guys done this before? What has worked for you?

Anyway, that's all for today! I'm off to investigate what's going on with this filing cabinet business! I will make sure to update when my filing cabinet looks like it's ready for America's Next Top Filing Cabinet, a reality TV show making it's way to you this September!

What are you working on in your classroom right now? And if you're already in school, what is your next goal for your kids?


  1. Hey gorgeous! What a great post! Even though I teach preschool I am on the same page as you; getting my class ready, projects/materials, ideas...everything together and oragized. As much as I love organizing and planning it can be so stressful and overwhelming but these tips you shared, hello Pinterest, best thing ever, will be so helpful. I look forward to seeing you classrooms after picture. :-)

    1. Thanks, Maddie! :) I always get so many ideas this time of year. I swear, I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to Pinterest! Hahaha.