Organizing for Small Groups on a Budget

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Hello friends! It’s been a while. This school year has been a whirlwind to say the least. I am so blessed to be in a new school this year, small catch though… our first grade classrooms were not ready until the 7THWEEK OF SCHOOL!! Oh..my…word. For the first six weeks of school, our librarian graciously shared part of her library space with me. The library is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! One small problem though, the space we occupied had one wall of floor to ceiling windows! Needless to say, we spent many days discussing weather patterns and learning how different construction equipment/teams worked, lol. Let me just say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… or at least it makes you appreciate your classroom! Anyway, we are now happily settled into our new room and loving it. I can’t say that I am fully unpacked,  but all of my boxes are very well hidden.
If there is one thing I really love, it’s organization. Moving into any new space definitely presents you with organizational challenges. It took me a few weeks to get my small group area right, but now that it’s ready, I couldn’t wait to share! The best part, once I started looking at everything, all but one of my small group bins/baskets were bought for $1 or less!

Student Supplies

When I moved, I found TONS of these little clear boxes that I had bought at Dollar Tree (3 for $1). In my old room, I had a basket for pencils, a basket for erasers, etc. This year, I made a small supply box for each student that would be at my small group table. Inside the box I put crayons, a pencil, an eraser and a spacing stick (popsicle stick). The crayons are inside a recycled Jello pudding cup, which is the perfect size/height for crayons! I will occasionally put a highlighter or dry erase marker in the box, but for the most part the students have everything they need with just those basic four items and I’m not having to pass things out each day. I’ve even started training my first table group to go get their box off the shelf, and the last group puts them up!
The boxes are still fairly small, which is good when you don’t have a lot of room at your small group table. Here’s what it looks like at my table:
Teacher Tip: Do you have chairs or stools that seem to migrate their way around the table? Use washi tape to mark where the students should sit.


Yep, there are those cute little 3 for $1 boxes again! They are also great for holding math manipulatives. I prefer these boxes over the Ziploc bags that they come in because the students are able to get started and clean up much faster! When you only have a limited amount of time in your small group, you don’t want to waste a second!


Like I said earlier, everything on this shelf (with the exception of that black crate) was purchased for $1 or less! To be honest, most of it probably came Dollar Tree or Target. Here’s a quick run-down of what I keep in each basket/bin:
Top Shelf
Blue Basket (Dollar Tree): bingo dobbers, scissors, glue, extra erasers
Green Basket (Dollar Tree): highlighters, dry erase markers, colored markers
Clear Marker Boxes (2 for $1 at Wal-Mart): one set of markers each
Clear Supply Boxes (3 for $1 at Dollar Tree): pencil, crayons, eraser, spacing stick
Second Shelf
Black Crate ($6-7 at Target): word journals for writing, sight word flashcards, number lines
Grey Basket ($1 at Target): Foam Dice
Clear Boxes behind Dice (3 for $1): Counters or other math manipulatives to pass out to students
Clear/White Tubs (Dollar Tree): Math manipulatives, currently: unifix cubes, counters, bears/hippos and special dice

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What “on a budget” organizing tips do you have? Share in the comments below!

How to Organize for Small Groups on a Budget
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Kristen Sullins

Kristen Sullins

I am a current first grade teacher, mother of two, follower of Christ and Texas native. In my own classroom, I love to focus on and plan new ideas for my guided reading and guided math stations, warm ups and interventions and all things organization.


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