I have spent this summer going through all the materials I have collected over the past several years in order to get myself completely organized before preschool starts back up.
All summer long, I have been purging, tossing, cleaning, and sorting, and then deciding on how best to keep my things so they will be easy to find and easy to put away.
Collecting the Jars
I love to collect jars of all types and sizes. I collect anything from old peanut butter jars to glass mason jars to plastic jars of all sizes. When I can find a good deal on a nice set of plastic or glass jars, I will purchase a set to use in my classroom or to use as part of my storage system or for both. The plastic jars shown in the photo below are perfect for our math materials the children collect through out the school year. So I will keep them empty until the school year begins.
Here is a photo of the math jars once they start to fill up with all of our math tokens.
I mostly like to only collect clear jars so the children and I can easily see through them. On occasion, I will find a jar that I just can’t resist like these plastic mason jars from Walmart. I found them on clearance about a week ago so I decided to add just a few of them to my collection.
Using the Jars
I use the jars I collect to store lots of small pieces that we can use for DIY games, art, sorting, counting, graphing, estimating, fine motor activities, sensory play, water play, and whatever else I might come up with throughout the school year.
Some of the things I collect and keep in the jars are things I have collected over the years like lots and lots of lids.
Some things that I put in the jar are specialty items like this set of sparkly pompoms. Now that I have this set of pompoms sorted in my jar collection, I will remember to use them and know where they are when the right moment or idea strikes me.
I use some of the jars to keep sensory materials like this left-over colored rice.
I use this big old plastic tub (the lid is missing) to keep my wooden blocks that I will use to make DIY drawing dice or dice for games or perhaps even for an interesting art activity. Again, I don’t necessarily have a plan for the use of these things but I like to know where they are when a plan does pop up.
Instead of talking about every single jar I have and what’s in them, I have put together a couple of collages for you to just take a look. In the past, I had these things in baggies or boxes and pieces were scattered from one place to another. Over the summer, I have been able to put all like items together so I can do a better job finding and using the resources I already have on hand.
I also have lots of small jars that I will use both in the classroom and for storing materials. These small jars are all glass but they are a heavy glass (unlike baby food jars) and work well in my outdoor classroom. I have wooden floors in the outdoor classroom and have found that these jars can topple over or even drop down on the wooden floor without them breaking but I still teach my students to handle the jars with care. I think because the small jars are real glass, my students naturally do a better job taking care of them and paying attention to what they do with them.
As you can see, most of my jars are for collecting small items we use as “loose parts for play” or for math, art, and anything else we find them useful for. And for anyone that might be concerned about choking, it is important to note that the students in my classroom are well past the “put everything in your mouth” stage but still, we remind them and keep an eye out just in case someone is tempted.
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