Behind the Scenes – Storing Printables

Storing Theme Printables

It took me years to develop a method of storing our theme printables.   Many of these themes are used again, and a lot of work goes into prepping many of the printables.  The worst thing is knowing you have already prepped and laminated something and then not be able to find it.  I no longer have that problem, and haven’t had it for over a year since we have been using this method!

 

Here’s what you need if you’d like to copy my method

  • Canvas Storage Box ~ Target {ClosetMaid Cubicles}
  • Poly Envelopes {5 pack, buy a bunch!} ~ Target {Up & Up Brand}
  • Label maker, got this exact one at Costco a couple of years ago and it is still going strong!

Edited to add ~ I see Target no longer carries the exact poly envelopes I use.  I searched on Amazon and found a couple of alternatives.  These are not the exact ones we have but look like they would work similarly.  Here is one set, and here is another

The poly envelopes fit perfectly inside of the canvas box, and stand up nicely so you can see your labels in a top corner.IMG_2707

I make one envelope for each theme we do, and put all age level {tot-early elementary} work together in one envelope.  The envelopes have snaps on them, so nothing falls out.  Here’s a shot of our Pirates folder, showing the contents also…

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The canvas box sits up on a shelf above my desk so I can get to it easily.  Sometimes we find stray pieces of printables, and it makes it easy to just toss a theme piece in the box and store it.IMG_2699

I also have a smaller plastic box {got this one at Target in the $2.50 section}, you could use a magazine holder or similar box.  I keep current and upcoming themes in this one. This helps me as I am planning and printing, I can just put things straight into this box.  Right now you see 2 empty envelopes, one for Rainbows {L’s theme this week}, one for Star Wars {K’s current theme}.

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A bit of advice, if you get your hands on the Poly Envelope 5 packs from Target, buy them all!  They have the best price I have ever seen for this type of envelope.  I bought some and then my Target stopped carrying them.  If you can’t find them, ask an employee, they will scan the blank spot and then it will auto reorder.  Show them the item on the website if you can’t find where it would be in the store.  Ours are located in the office supply section.  Recently I went to a different Target and they had tons, I bought almost all of them!

I also use these envelopes for our current curriculums, such as Animal ABC.  I prep units in advance and put them in the envelope so I can just pull it out when it is time to do that unit. I don’t label these envelopes, they are rotated out once a unit is done.

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This is another section on a shelf above my desk, we have graduated from You Can Read, so the yellow box has since been replaced by the Upcoming and Current Themes box.

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There you have it, my tried and true theme printable storage method!  We have stored things this way for over a year and it is the best method I have used!  I wish I would have started this way!

See theme printable packs we have here!Printable Theme Packs

Project Simplify ~ Homeschool Storage Room

I recently read Organized Simplicity while on vacation and LOVED it.  I wasn’t expecting to love it, but I did.  I figured it was just another organizing book, but for some reason this one hit me differently, THANK YOU Tsh!  When I saw the Project Simplify was happening in March, I decided to jump on board this year.  I had already dedicated March as our “GET THIS HOUSE IN ORDER” month, with no plans of blogging about it.  When I saw this opportunity, I thought it would be fun to snap a few before and after shots of some projects and join in!

This week’s theme area was KIDS.  I chose to tackle our homeschool storage room, which I originally blogged about here.

Before I show you the recent BEFORE photos, I must share my dilemma with you and how it got this bad.  This room was intended to be homeschool storage only, managed by MOM.  As the warm weather hit last year, it was overcome with bikes, skateboards, rip sticks, roller blades, scooters, and MORE.  Since we live in the inner city and people will literally hop the fence to steal a scooter so they can scrap the metal for cash, we have to put every riding toy inside, every day.  Sine this room has the door that leads out to the riding area, guess where the new toy garage was located?  Yup, the homeschool storage room; aka ~ garage, utility shed, mudroom and more.  I thought we would get a grip this winter when we stored the toys, but the weather stayed mild and we never stored them.  So, I knew I had to revamp the room.  It got SO out of control thanks to my little ones just throwing their toys everywhere.  I couldn’t get to my school stuff to put it away properly so the piles began, and continued, and grew.  It was horrible, really horrible.  I have proof…

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This wasn’t even on a really bad day, as some of the riding toys were outside when I snapped this.  As you can see, I literally could barely walk in there, let alone find what I was looking for.

Not anymore!!!!  We are in the process of building a small outside storage area for riding toys so they don’t get stolen, and in the meantime we have them all stuffed into an outside deck box thingy. I can walk!


Here is our learning toy shelf {the shelf is from Ikea}…

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My favorite thing about the new learning toy storage area is my new click boxes from Target {below on left with green top}.  I love that they are clear and that they can be unclicked and brought right into the schoolroom and put on a tray.  I emptied as many toys as I could out of their cardboard boxes and stored them all together in our basement {in case I give them away in the future and need the box}. I also got rid of at least 25-30% of our stuff.  I blessed another homeschooling friend who has 3 little ones younger than mine, giving her all sorts of good stuff!

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About a year ago I wrote a post about storing our sensory bin items.  In that post you can see that we stored things in this area shown below.  We still have sensory bins now and then, but not nearly as much as we used to back then.  This is also the area that stores misc. Tot Tray supplies.  A year ago I sorted our small items by color, but it was time to change that since all 3 of my kids know their colors!  Our poor sensory bin area got pretty bad too, as you can see on the left, I cleaned it all up as you can see on the right!

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The drawers still store our small items, they are just not sorted by color groups now, but by like items.  Here are 2 drawers…

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This is the door that leads to the outside play area and it had gotten out of control too. I didn’t take any before shots.  These are the after, all set up for springtime weather.  I added a shoe organizer to the back door, I was sick of the big pile of nasty shoes in the basket.  On the left is an assortment of items my kids use regularly outside in the warmer weather.

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I did one more simplifying task, on the door that leads into the school storage room!  I bought a nice shoe organizer from Target and made a school/office supply zone.

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I can’t share the cards I made since I grabbed most of my images straight from Google, but here are the categories I have in case you are curious:

  1. rulers
  2. watercolor paint
  3. scissors
  4. colored pencils
  5. paint brushes
  6. tape
  7. index cards
  8. notepads
  9. pencils
  10. pens
  11. highlighters
  12. Sharpies
  13. Dry Erase Markers
  14. Vis a Vis Markers
  15. Modeling Clay
  16. See the Light Art tools
  17. Chapstick {since we are all always losing it}
  18. glue
  19. gluesticks
  20. shaving cream {for fun like this!}
  21. craft cups {disposable}
  22. erasers
  23. sticky notes
  24. index cards

My thought process was categories that many family members are commonly look for.  This door is in our dining room which connects to both our kitchen and schoolroom.  It is a very central location for all of us.


One last thing I did to help simplify homeschooling craft time was to clear off our hutch in the dining room and create an area to store paint supplies. IMG_1421

I got the silver tins from Target recently for $2.50/each.  In them: cloth napkins {for meals and art}, small paint trays & baby wipes, a few tempera paint bottles {our smaller ones}, paint shirts/smocks, paper towels.  It looks so much cleaner and more simple, and has already been a big help!.


I am so thrilled to have this all done and I honestly don’t think I would have gotten it completed in such a short amount of time if it weren’t for Project Simplify!  I was determined to get my after shots done on time! Next week is the KITCHEN/PANTRY!  My husband is loving this!


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Behind the Scenes ~ Homeschool Storage Room

Behind the Scenes

When we were blessed with the new schoolroom, we were also blessed with an amazing storage space. Problem-it was FULL of junk. It has been cleaned out bit by bit over the past year, but it was finally at the point to just take a few days and finish it. That’s just what I did last week!

Here’s a few way-before shots to give you an idea of what has been accomplished over the last 10 months. Originally it looked like this, filled wall to wall, floor to ceiling with stuff. Most of it not even belonging to us and needing to be distributed to the church-this was leftover stuff from when this house use to hold ministry activities.

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1st stage last year was to get it ALL out and sort through it. This was not a fun job. Over 50% of the stuff was not ours and was distributed back to the church or to the thrift store.IMG_0538

What was left was put back in the storage room, but was still very unorganized {although this photo makes it look rather nice}IMG_0566

Every single box that was left needed to be gone through—most of them were boxes from my former Kindergarten teaching day. Boxes filled with good stuff, but also lots of stuff that we wouldn’t use. It was a tedious few days with a huge trash pile but I am finally done! Here’s a glimpse into the room…IMG_7145

This is office/school supply storage {part of it-the rest is in our actual school room} for the most part…

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This is the outside station, since the door to the backyard is through this room. Setting u this area has been on my agenda for years and finally-it is complete! Each kid has their own drawer {bathing suits, goggles, hats, sunglasses}. There is a drawer for sunscreen/bug spray and also for smaller outdoor toys. On the left {shelves} there are towels, bubbles, outdoor games and a baseball box. The bottom shelf is unused and I stacked PacMan’s completed 3rd grade books there-woops! There’s a laundry basket on the other side of the room for their wet towels and used bathing suits.IMG_7030

The entire back of the room and one side is theme storage!!! I divided up seasons/holidays on large shelves and then created blue bins for my other top themes.IMG_7034

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I created all of the labels in Publisher and printed on cardstock, laminated and put on with double sided tape. Many of the images I used are just Google images {some copyright protected} so I am sorry I can’t share. The borders I used were free digital papers from here. Here’s a screen shot of one of my pages, in case you are interested in duplicating your own version!Toy Bin Labels

I also have a shelf that contains all of our larger toys and puzzles. This area is not sorted exactly the way I want it, but it will do for now, I am exhausted!

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My sensory bin storage area is still the same, I just changed up the theme bins I had and made the areas bigger for my themes!

I still keep our books stored in the schoolroom, the same way they are shown in this book storage post. I just moved the seasonal books into the storage room. {no I don’t have a list of the labels I have-I get asked that a lot! Someday I will try to recreate one!}

I sure hope this new clean storage room helps with schooling this year. Having it a huge mess last year was difficult and frustrating! Portions were clean but then they would get messed up because things would overflow! I am praying it will stay organized and simple this year!

See more Behind the Scenes posts here!

Behind the Scenes ~ Storing Legos

Organizing Legos



Honestly, my boys haven’t been as into Legos as I thought they would be, especially Pac Man.  I always thought he would be my builder, but he ranks Legos in the same category with other activities.  He likes playing and building but isn’t over the moon about it. Organizing Legos hasn’t always been an issue for us, until recently!

Recently Krash got into Legos and I was left with a dilemma…storage.  I began searching the web and was inspired by a few photos I saw, and ultimately went and wandered around Joann Fabric to see what I could find.  I ended up finding the PERFECT solution for us and it was 50% off that day!!!! I bought 3 of these amazing storage bins {yup, Amazon carries the exact model # I got} and hoped it would be enough, it was!Organizing LegosI then set to the fun task {yes I am nuts and I actually enjoyed the sorting} of putting each piece where it belonged.

Organizing LegosOrganizing Legos

When I was finished {yes, the boys helped me too}  I breathed a large organizational sigh of relief and admired the Lego beauty I had created.Organizing Legos

 

These little containers are genius, as they have handles on them as well and can be flipped all around and the little pieces stay separated.  I set them up on a shelf in our old school room so the boys could build, build, build!  Above the shelf I put 3 trays {yes our Tot Trays}, and told them they could only have 3 different items built at a time.  When they were ready to create something new, they had to break down one that was up.

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I stored manuals in the little drawers…

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Gave them a “to be sorted” bin, so if they found Legos around the house, or were in a hurry, could drop them in there.  As you can see it’s already full ;-).  Someone needs to get to sorting.

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It is working out well for us!

Here are a few of the sets we own and ones that are on our wishlist!

 

Edited to add {6/2014} We no longer use this method, mostly because we acquired too many Legos!  When we had a smaller amount this method worked great.  We now use a method that works but makes me cringe because it looks messy!  My mom made us one of those lay on the floor mats that cinch up into a bag.