5 Steps to Keep Your Closets Organized

Everything in my house is organized. Totally and completely organized. The bookcase in the office? Organized. The shelves in the laundry room? Organized. The kitchen cabinets? Yep, you can look there. They’re organized (for now). 

But then there are *dun dun dun* the closets. 

Closets are a blessing and a curse at the same time. On one hand, they give us a place to store our stuff. On the other hand, they give us a place to store tons of stuff that we don’t need and a place to hide it away so we never have to deal with it. 

My house is about a century old, and it only has four closets. One in each bedroom, and one in the laundry room. Out of those four, I only feel like one of them is functional. The other three? Traps for junk, like things I’m planning to donate or things that just don’t have another home. 

Is this a problem for you, too? 

This post can show you how to organize your closets and keep them organized over time! Say hello to the CHARM system! 

The CHARM System:

C– Start with a Clear Goal
H– Adjust your Habits to align with your goal
A– Take Action
R– String your habits together into Routines
M– Have a Positive Mindset

Step #1: Envision a Clear Goal for Each Closet

On a piece of paper, write a heading for each closet in your house, even if you feel like it’s already being used efficiently. Next, set a timer for a minute and write down how you envision each closet being used. If you need some help, just close your eyes and visualize your perfect life, where everything is clean and everyone is happy. You are totally efficient, look completely fabulous, and everyone in your life is happy. 

In that scenario, how do you envision yourself coming into your home? Where do you put your things? What do you see when you open each of those closets? Include any containers, shelving systems, etc. that you envision. Remember to include how often you see yourself cleaning out each closet in your perfect world 🙂 

Here are my goals for each closet:

Master Closet: Categorized by clothing type and category. Organized with a chronologically rotating system. Aligns with Stylebook App. 

Laundry Closet: Holds all cleaning supplies. Also holds unusual items- Halloween costumes, etc. in neat containers. Bin for items to be donated quarterly. 

Office Closet: Holds outdoorsy stuff, like the stroller, workout equipment. Everything is organized and in its place. Cleaned out every 6 months. 

My Son’s Closet: Out of season clothes kept on the top rack. Shoes on the top rack. Blankets and toys stored on side shelves. Large toys at the bottom. 

(Want to create a minimalist wardrobe that reflects your personal style? This post will help you!)

Step #2: Form Good Habits

Now that you have that down on paper, think about what daily habits you would need to create to keep your goal a reality. I’m not talking about “Go to Home Depot and buy a shelving system.” I’m talking about consistent things like putting your clothes away at the same time of day. Here are the habits I’ll need to get into to keep my closets looking the way I want them.

Set your timer for one minute and write down how you see yourself “interacting” with each closet (it sounds crazy, but I promise it works!). 

Here are the habits I need to form to achieve the goal:

Master Closet: 
-Document everything in Stylebook every day. 
-When I come home each day, put clothes away immediately- behind other clothes in that category. 
-Every 3 months, re-evaluate items not worn. 

Laundry Closet:
-Put items to donate in “Donate” Bin as notice them. 
-Donate to Junior League every three months. 

Office Closet:
-Keep free of office clutter. This is not a home for old notebooks. 
-Identify the things you want to keep and create a new home for them. 

Cash’s Closet: 
-Put big toys (activity table/balance bike) in here nightly. 
-Organize his smaller toys by type and in bins on shelves. 
-Switch out bins weekly. 

Step #3: Take Action

Now that you’ve identified your Clear Goal and Target Habits, it’s time to take action. This is where you get to run to Home Depot and buy that shelving system! Think about what kinds of containers you want. Don’t settle for the first containers you find either, look around and find EXACTLY what you want! The size, the color. What you want exists somewhere, and you won’t feel happy with your closet if you use ill-fitting containers. 

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to actually organize the closet! I am a big fan of this and I kind of look forward to doing it. Turn on all the lights in the room where you are working, get some water, play some music, and take every. single. thing. out of your closet. Everything.

Also Read: 5 Rules for Simplified Style: Get Your Closet Under Control!

We dread cleaning out closets because it’s work. However, once we’ve taken everything out, putting things back into the closet becomes the work. You are far less likely to expend energy putting things you don’t love back into the closet. You may even find that you only loved about 20% of the things in your closet, and you were just keeping the rest because you didn’t want to go through the work of cleaning it out! 

So start with the things you love the most. If you were packing to leave town for a hurricane, and you knew there was a chance you might never see some of these things again, what would you choose to take with you? Think with that mentality. No excess. 

(Related: Creative Storage Solutions for Closets)

Once you’ve gotten those things hung back up in your closet, set a limit of some sort. It could be 20 hangers or everything you can fit in one bin. Be ruthless as you slowly decide which things to add back in. And once you’ve hit your limit, donate the excess that was hiding in your closet! This works for clothes, toys, books, blankets, whatever you’re storing in your closets. 

Most closet organization posts would stop there. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve got a nice, clean closet. You’re done, right? 

Well… organizing your closet and keeping your closet organized is kind of like losing weight and keeping it off. It’s great if you do it all at once and it looks great afterward. But if you don’t change your daily routines, it won’t last. This is where Step # 4 comes in…

Step #4 comes in: Develop Consistent Routines

Look back at your habits. This is the time that you need to use a little discipline and set those habit into motion. One of my habits was to hang up my clothes as soon as I get home. When I get home from work, it’s so easy to leave clothes on the floor for “just a few minutes” while I get water, or pick up my son. But when I do that, I’m not respecting the goal that I set for myself. 

If you tell yourself that you’re going to do something, do it. If you let yourself slack off a little here and there, eventually, you’ll find yourself right back where you started, being stressed about all the excess junk lurking in your closets. Focus on creating one habit for a month, then another one. Eventually, you’ll be able to string your habits together into routines. The routines will keep you from having to have a “closet cleaning” day every year. 

It may seem silly to consciously think about closets, and create habits and routines for them. BUT every little thing we do throughout the day is made up of habits and routines. When we don’t put a lot of thought into them, we fall into bad habits or unproductive routines. However, if you DO put thought and purpose into them, you are one step closer to living the dream life that you envisioned! 

Related: Closet Cleanout Checklist

Step #5: Keep a Positive Mindset

Get into the mindset that you are an organized person, your closets are organized, and you don’t bring in clutter. One of the biggest ways we sabotage ourselves is by saying “I’m the most disorganized person ever,” or “my house is always a mess.” DON’T SAY THAT! When you get down on yourself and your messy house, guess how your house will stay? Messy! Find a relevant quote or two that you really like and think it to yourself when you’re looking through your closets. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” -Marie Kondo

“Life is too complicated not to be orderly.” -Martha Stewart

Take the time to put everything back where it’s supposed to go. Do it for your future self. Think about how much easier it will be to get ready for work in the morning if you don’t have to dig through a dresser drawer for something that wasn’t hung up correctly! According to Gresham’s Law of Planning, every minute spent planning saves you about 10 minutes in the future. 

So, even though it may be difficult for me to let my son cry for a minute while I hang up my clothes correctly, that helps me have a more efficient morning (which will lead to me having about 10 minutes to play with him before work)! 

Keep things like this in mind throughout your day! It may be a tiny decision now, but it will help you have a smooth getting ready time in the morning. And isn’t that totally worth it?! 

What systems have you tried to keep your closets clean and organized? How did they work? Share your experiences below! 

PS- This post was requested by a reader! You can request your own post here! 🙂 

Student Cubby Organization in My Classroom

Student cubbies can be a scary place.
I always feel like my students’ stuff is slowly creeping out of the cubbies to clutter up the rest of the room. 


A couple of years ago, I was cleaning out my kids’ cubbies and found a moldy orange that had clearly been hidden under papers for months

“If there’s one thing I get together next year,” I told myself “it will be the cubbies!”. 
And I have tried. I have really tried. I’ve come up with some systems that are making a difference. And luckily, I didn’t find any mold in last year’s cubbies, so I say that’s progress! Something that I think is so funny is that my former students will come by the room and say, “Who has my old cubby?” The cubbies are their own little personal spaces. I want them to feel as much ownership and responsibility over their cubbies as possible!  

Here’s how the student cubbies are organized in my current classroom:

Of course, each child’s name is in the cubby. I found this cute little panda face clipart through the magic of Google. Then I copy and pasted it to a Word document and typed each child’s name. The font is Hello Firstie Big Gulp, and I LOVE it! 
I cut out the panda faces with the name and then glued them to black construction paper. Then I cut that into a circle and laminated. Voila! Cute little pandas looking at us all day 🙂 
Item Labels
Inside the cubbies, each one is labeled to remind the children where each item should go. I copied clipart and typed the labels in a Word document. Then printed them and laminated them, and used hot glue to glue them into the cubbies. This shows where each item goes. We keep lunch boxes, backpacks, raincoats, and a towel in each cubby.
Work Baskets
In the bottom of each cubby, the children have these colorful baskets. I originally purchased them from Really Good Stuff to use in the cubbies of my teacher shelf, but they were 1/4” too big. 1/4″! I was SO SAD, but I refused to return them. I knew I could use them for something! Finally, it hit me… they fit in the student cubbies and they could replace our current filing system. Now the kids put their work straight into their cubby basket.
Filing System
Speaking of our Filing System, here’s how it works: Each child puts his or her work into the basket in their cubbies all week. On Thursdays, we send home a “Thursday Folder” with all of the work. I call “Pink Baskets” and the kids with pink baskets put their work into their folders, and their folders into their backpacks and sit back down. Then I call another color. The parents empty the folder and return it on Friday. Then we start the process over again.
Baskets vs. Hanging Files
Last year, we used one of those metal hanging file cubes, and each child had a hanging file. It was a good system with two flaws: 
1. The amount of time wasted as the children stood in line and waited for their turn to file their work.

2. The amount of time it took for a teacher to transfer the work from the files to the folder.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s wasting time! This system also freed up prime real estate on a classroom shelf!
Where to Find Baskets:
  • These baskets are super durable (and pretty!), but they can be pricy.
  • Dollar Tree has some more affordable options (24 for $24, if you order in bulk from the website).
  • ELFA also has a container that would work well for this system on The Container Store’s website.
The colors aren’t as pretty as the ones from Really Good Stuff (all neutrals), but you could easily liven them up with cute tags or labels! I also wrote a post on the best places to find containers for your classroom… because I LOVE containers!
Cubby Inspector
Even with all of these labels/systems, the cubbies still manage to get messy. So I came up with the Most Organized Cubby award. The Cubby Inspector changes each week (I just rotate through the class list, so everyone has a fair turn). They inspect each cubby for 
  1. Lunch items to be inside a lunchbox
  2. Backpack to be zipped up
  3. All items to be in their designated locations with nothing hanging out of the cubby
Then they announce the Most Organized Cubby and give a Dojo point to the winner! Having them evaluate each other’s cubbies is also a sneaky way of helping them learn how to keep their own cubbies clean 🙂

And that’s how we keep our classroom cubbies somewhat organized!

This is what they look like at the end of a real school day. They still aren’t perfect (after all, it is Kindergarten), but everything is in its place, and that’s what matters most!

My parents visited my classroom for Grandparents’ Day last year. When they walked in they asked, “What have y’all been doing today?”. One of my little boys replied (in an exhausted-sounding voice) “Organizing!” He gets it 🙂

How do you keep your students’ cubbies organized (and prevent things from growing in them)? Any secret tips you would like to share? Post below so we can all benefit! 

Follow Organized Charm on Instagram

Classroom Tour

Some of you have expressed interest in seeing a tour of the classroom as a whole and how all of the systems and routines work together. Here we go…

Welcome to the Peppy Panda classroom! Let me show you around!

When each child arrives in the morning, they switch their attendance magnet in the hallway. 

Then they enter the room, greet the teacher, and begin their Sight Word Path. This is a sneaky way to monitor them as they review their Sight Words each day! After the Sight Word Path, they put their items in their cubbies (labeled to help them remember where to put everything!). 

Then they grab a journal page and sit down. (The writing checklists above are from One Sharp Bunch) After they finish their journal page, they clip it into their journals and sit down with a Library Book. 

When it’s time for Morning Meeting, we put the library books away and get started! If we do Morning Message (usually second semester), I simply tear off the giant sheet and post it to the bottom of the board using magnets. This still gives the children a chance to write on it, but it can be easily removed so we can use the board for other things, too!

During the first last Morning Meeting of the month, they “apply” for their new classroom job. They used to switch jobs each week, but it was difficult for them to remember who was the new Door Holder, or who needed to be turning out the lights? So they voted to keep the same job for a whole month. Now they fill out a monthly “job application” and get “paychecks” (Class Dojo Points) every Friday. 

On Friday mornings, they bring their Class Dojo hundreds charts to the carpet. I pull down the projector screen and display their Class Dojo points, and they fill them in. Then we talk about who earned what special privileges for the upcoming week!

Every day is a little different, but we usually do Morning Meeting, Calendar Math, and Everyday Math during this time. Then it’s time for snack and recess!

After recess, we start with a quick Open Court reading lesson and then jump into workshops. We post all of our current sight words and other skills on the whiteboard. At the end of the week, we move the sight word to our word wall on the cabinet doors. At the end of the month, we move our writing skill to our Writing Checklist near the student tables (where they write their journals every morning). 

When it’s time to explain workshops, the teacher helper and supply monitor take turns bringing the workshop buckets to the middle of the carpet. 

On the white board, we also have a turquoise pocket chart from Target where children can “sign up” to spend extra time working with the teacher. Believe it or not, they actually watch this board like hawks so they can add their names when a spot opens up!

The children then split up into their different workshop rotations, one of which is individualized instruction at my teacher table. You can read about that here. 

As each child finished his or her work, they either place it on the drying rack in the hallway, or in their “take home” basket in their cubbies. If they don’t finish, they put in the Ketchup Basket. When a child adds something to the basket, he/she puts a name clip on the edge so it’s easy to see who has catch up work!

On Thursdays, I hand out our weekly Parent Communication Folders to the children, and they go file their own work into the folders. Then they put it in their backpacks so it’s ready to go at dismissal! After workshops, we clean up our classroom and prepare for lunch, specials, rest, and second recess. 

Afternoon is usually the time we get last minute emails from parents about changes in transportation. We make sure that each child’s clothes pin is clipped onto the correct method of transportation. We also keep a schedule of our after school “enrichments” by the door, so we can keep up with who stays after school for what. 

That’s basically a tour of the Peppy Panda classroom and how everything is used! 

Let me know if you have any questions! 

How I Organize My Teacher Lesson Planner

This is our in-service week, which means planning for all the things!! In my post about My Lesson Planning Process, I explained how I plan each week. Today, I wanted to show you how I keep it all together! 

My lesson planners from last year and the year before

Every school is different. When I taught in public school, my daily schedule was extremely consistent (same thing at the same time everyday). All that changed was the “special” of the day). The Erin Condren lesson planner worked perfectly for me in this setting! 

When I switched over to private school, I bought another ECLP, only to abandon it halfway through September. 

I tried and tried to make it work. I really did. But our schedule was so different, it just wasn’t happening. 

I kind of floundered around for a few months when it came to planning, trying several different methods. Until finally (in January), it hit me! Just create your own! 

So that’s what I did. 

First I asked myself, what do I like so much about my EC Lesson Planner? Then I made a list of the sections that I absolutely cannot do without. They are:
  • Yearly Curriculum Map/Pacing Guide
  • Usernames/Passwords
  • Monthly Planning
  • Weekly Planning
  • PD Hours
  • Grading

Then I set out to make a sheet for each section that accomplishes the same purpose, but fits my needs: 

Yearly Curriculum Map + Yearly Checklist
There are a lot of great ones online, or you can create your own using Word or Pages (or Excel or Numbers, if you’re really talented). I just wanted a place where I could quickly look at a certain month and know what we’ll be doing.

You think you have a lot of usernames and passwords. And then you become a teacher. I can’t even tell you how many websites I have to log into (or log my students into) every day! It’s really helpful to be able to have all of that information in one place! Nothing really fancy about this 🙂 

Monthly Planning
Pretty straightforward. I downloaded these editable monthly calendars from Learning in Wonderland (one of my favorite teaching blogs!) so that I could type out and color code my monthly schedule. There are also tons of free monthly calendars available on Pinterest! And of course, you could always make your own! 

Weekly Planning Sheets + Weekly Checklist
This is the main part of my lesson planner! The weekly planning! I have talked before about how every day looks different at my school. We get to do a lot of exciting stuff (on top of whatever lessons are planned), and this helps me keep up with it all! Since teaching is a pretty cyclical profession, I print out this weekly checklist to help me stay on track!

PD Hours
Something that’s really unique about my school is that we’re responsible for keeping up with our own PD hours (versus public school, where they take attendance and report it). It’s great that they trust us enough to register our own hours, but I learned the hard way that if you don’t report all of your hours correctly, you’ll have to do them twice :/ I’m determined to never let it happen again! 
This is definitely my favorite part of my planner! Instead of giving weekly assessments to the whole class, I just test them on certain skills as they’re ready. At the top, I included every skill from their report cards (we have three a year). I leave the boxes under each skill blank until they’ve mastered it! Once a child masters a skill, I fill box with green. This is an easy visual that helps me see what skills we still need to work on as a class, and which skills individual students need extra support! 

*Lots of White = Reteaching skill to class/small group

*Lots of Green w/ a Couple of White Boxes = Working one-on-one with that specific child on that specific skill

These editable binder covers are a free download from Maria Gavin

And that’s my lesson planner! It may not be the world’s fanciest or most beautiful planner, but it helps me get my job done! 🙂 

What kind of lesson planner do you use? What do you like about it? What would you change about it?

To see my classroom in action, follow @organizedcharm on Instagram! 🙂

Flexible Long-Term Lesson Planning Solutions

I like to see things long term. 

I’m always asking pesky questions, like How does this fit into the big picture? What’s the end goal? and What color-coding scheme should I use? 

Lesson planning and I have a love/hate relationship. One one hand, I love planning August-May in a day! On the other hand, I hate having to mark things out and scribble the new plan next to them in my planner. 

Why can’t every day just go as I perfectly planned it in August? said every teacher ever. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of teaching, it’s that a flexible planning process is key to keeping your sanity during the school year. Even if (especially if) it doesn’t come naturally. 

So today, I’m sharing my flexible planning process! 

Curriculum Map
One of the first things I did was create an overview for the year. I typed out a table with every month and what we covered in art, discovery, handwriting, math, reading, and writing. This is super helpful and easy to reference when planning longterm!

Workshop Ideas
Planning Workshops was probably the thing that took the longest time last year… so I wanted to get a head start on it over the summer! I created a table with our workshop dates going vertically (we do them every Monday-Wednesday), and the different workshops going horizontally (Daily 5). 

I cannot even tell you how helpful this was! I just typed out some ideas/activities in each box, and it was good to go! Of course, if I run across a better idea between now and then, I can just update it with the new activity! But I’m no longer building workshops from scratch anymore. There is something documented as a backup!

Lesson Plan Book
For the past two years, I have spent $60 on a new Erin Condren Lesson Planner, only to ditch it around fall break. I don’t know why, but I just struggle with using them for school! School planning is messy. Things get scribbled in, crossed out, moved, changed… I think it’s just stressful for me to see such a beautiful planner get destroyed by the fluidity of planning for an actual school year! 

SO, this year, I just bought a cheap one from Target ($3). I think I’m more comfortable using it because it’s not as pretty. (I know. I don’t even know who I am.) And get this… I do the planning with a mechanical pencil! It’s not even color coded! But it can be erased… and teaching Kindergarten (or any grade, for that matter) is all about being FLEXIBLE

For the actual planning, here’s the process: 

-I look at the Curriculum Map and plug in the concepts/topics we’re covering for each topic. 
-I look at the Workshop Ideas sheet and plug in the workshop activities

By using pencil, I can plan WAY ahead (like I like to do), but I can also erase and edit things if something comes up (which it always does). Each week, my Kindergarten team meets to plan for the next week. This meeting is where we discuss any upcoming school events, parties, crafts, etc. 

We try to stay aligned in our pacing, so we talk about which reading, math, and handwriting lessons we’ll teach and make sure we’re all on the same page. We also share ideas that we found on Pinterest came up with. Once this meeting of the minds is finished, I “lock in” my plans. Next, it’s time to type them up and make them look pretty! 

Typing Plans
After our meeting, our kids come back from P.E. for quiet reading/resting time. I use this to type the plans that are scribbled all over my cheap Target planner into a neat 1 page format. I print it out, hand a copy to my assistant, and we’re good to go for the next week!

And that’s how this non-spontaneous girl has forced herself encouraged herself to plan flexibly 🙂 

What strategies/tricks have you come up with to be a flexible planner? Have you found a way to keep your ECLP looking pretty until spring (or is it just a lost cause)? Share your planning process below! 

Follow @organizedcharm on Instagram for a ridiculous amount of planning updates 🙂

Ordering a Plum Paper Planner

I recently ordered my second Plum Paper Planner, which I am SO excited about!! For the past two years, I’ve been using Passion Planner (which I loved), but I was just ready for a change (and some color)!
The thing that originally drew me to Plum Planner was a glowing review from a good friend (who knows a lot about planners). She said she switched from the Erin Condren to the Plum Planner, and couldn’t be happier!
I finally decided I was ready to make the switch, too! So I went to the website, just to check it out. 

Buuuut I ended up ordering one! 

Here’s how the process went:

Designing the Cover

I LOVE it that you can choose your own cover design! I spent hours quite a while playing the game of “this one or this one” between the beautiful designs! After that, I added a monogram (yay!) and the year (school year, because #teacherlife).
Having a pretty cover was something I missed after two years of black Passion Planners. I so love the sleekness of PP, but I NEED ALL THE COLOR, PLEASE!

Choosing the Weekly Layout

This was, by far, my favorite feature! I LOVE all of the different layouts that are available for Plum Planner! I’m a vertical layout girl, but they also have horizontal layouts. Most planners stop at asking horizontal or vertical, but not Plum Planner!
Next, I needed to choose just how I wanted the days laid out: Did I want Morning, Afternoon, Evening? Did I want Hourly? Did I want Blank Columns? And then, I saw it… the most wonderful of all things planner-y: The ME Layout!
This layout allows you to add up to seven category of your very own to your planner! Perfect for keeping up with separate college classes or moms who have kids with busy schedules!
This is my favorite thing to see on a planner because it means it will work for anyone! I made it flexible for my upcoming work/maternity leave/work school year! I also used this feature to create a hybrid of all of my favorite planners!

Here are the seven categories I chose:

-Daily Focus: Like Passion Planner, a place for a step towards my goal.
-Cash: Our SON, who will be here in October! A place to track his progress and eventually schedule “Cash Care” when I go back to work.
-Morning: Appointments, deadlines, holidays, meetings, & school-related things.
-Afternoon: Checklists, cleaning schedule, errands, faculty meetings, & workouts.
-Evening: Baby to do’s, dinner, & Junior League events/meetings/obligations.
-Night: Baby stuff (feeding/sleeping patterns), Friend stuff (celebrations/dates)
(My husband made fun of including both “evening” and “night”, but I think they’ll be useful! We’ll see J)
-Best Things: Best things that happened each day!

UPDATE: I’m now on my second Plum Planner, and for this one I chose the hourly layout. It’s awesome, and I like it even more than the categories! 

Choose any add-ons

I just went with 10 note pages in the back of the planner (because I love lists!).
And that’s it! It was super easy (aside from making the decisions) and quick! I love how many times they let you re-check/preview your order before you place it! And I love the options for add-ons at the end (SO. MANY. CHOICES.)!
I started using it last August and I couldn’t be happier!! 🙂 

Have you tried Plum Paper Planner before? What did you love/not love about it? Also, and this is important, what kind of pens work best in it?! 

Follow Organized Charm on Instagram for planner pics and productivity tips!

Creating an Online Vision Board

“I’m going to speak to a group of women today.” said my mom. 

“I had it on my vision board. And in the picture, the audience was even a group of women!”

Although a vision board sounds like something that I would be all about, it’s something that I had never done until this year! 

Over the summer, I did a lot of planning and goal setting. I reevaluated longterm goals, wrote to-do lists for short term goals, and knew exactly what I wanted for the upcoming school year. However, I always thought vision boards were a little… cheesy. 

Then I found this website, Dream It Alive. I liked that I could create the board online, instead of dragging out scissors, glue, and a stack of old magazines. I also really liked that it gives you a checklist of different areas of your life (much like Feng Shui), so that your dreams/goals can be balanced! 

Once you choose an area of life, you follow the link to several stock photos that could represent what you envision for yourself. OR you can upload your own… which I probably would do next time. 

Goal Writing
For each photo, you write a short goal 1-3 sentences. Then you do what is possibly my favorite part: You select the feeling/emotion you will feel upon completion of this goal. I like this exercise because I have never thought about that before. 

Why is this goal important to me? What emotion will I feel once I’ve completed it? It really helped to put things in perspective. Then you can select whether your goal is private or public. I set all of mine to private, just because it felt weird to have them public. 

(I don’t mind sharing with you, though!)

Board Arrangement
I tried and tried, but I couldn’t find a way to rearranged the photos once they were on my board. They will “stack” from the bottom right corner and end at the top left corner. If you complete all 10 categories, your layout will stack in this order:

-Bottom Row: Right Corner, Middle, Left Corner
-Middle Row: Right Side, Right Middle, Left Middle, Left Side
-Top Row: Right Corner, Middle, Left Corner

I tell you this because I deleted and remade it a ton of times to get my photos in the order I wanted 🙂

Once you have your board, you can save/download it etc. for a small fee. Or you can just keep it on the website (for free) and go back anytime you want. You have your own account, which allows you to edit your board whenever you need to. 

You can even mark goals as “fulfilled” and keep a list of accomplished dreams, which I really like!

I definitely feel like seeing these goals every day is keeping me focused! 🙂 

Have you ever created a vision board? Did you choose online or a physical one at your home? Did you feel like it helped you reach your goals?!

My Weekly Lesson Planning Process

I recently received a request on how I lesson planning each week. I was really excited, and a little disappointed in myself for not thinking of it first! I LOVE lesson planning and I LOVE the lesson planning process that I’ve developed over the years! I’m so happy to share it! 
I’ll start “big” and go “small”, so that everything makes more sense 🙂 

1. I Look at Our Pacing Guides:

-Reading/Language Arts (4 days a week): Open Court
-Math (4 days a week): Everyday Math
-Handwriting (3 days a week): Handwriting Without Tears
*For writing, I use the writing checklist journal pages from One Sharp Bunch, she follows the Lucy Calkins writing curriculum. 
*As a Kindergarten team, we do a monthly “Artist Study,” where we study (you guessed it) a different artist every month! (example: September, Matisse… October, Picasso…)
*One day a week, we have “Discovery,” which is where each Kindergarten class rotates through all three Kindergarten classrooms and do a different activity in each one. For this, we either use articles from National Geographic Kids or a cute idea from Pinterest 🙂 

2. We Meet as a Team:
We meet as a team to plan once a week, while our classes are in P.E. and I am so proud to say that we get our planning for the upcoming week done in 45 minutes (and maybe a little chit chatting)! We schedule our lessons and come up with reading & math workshop ideas. 
During this time, we also plan any upcoming events (“Halloween party” or “Valentine’s Day crafts”). We usually spend some of this meeting time browsing Pinterest and looking through binders/notebooks of what was done last year. Then everyone’s ready to plan!
3. It’s Time to Plan:
Once we’ve discussed the pacing guides and chosen the crafty stuff, it’s time to actually fit it into the schedule. Everyone goes back to their classes and the real fun begins! It’s time to fit these lessons into our daily schedules. This is usually pretty simple (except when it’s not). 

4. I Make a Weekly Plan:
You know all those cute, traditional lesson planners with the square grids that come out every summer? Yeah, those don’t work at our school. We joke that “no two days at our school are the same” but in reality, no two days at our school are the same. 

It’s more like a college schedule, and it looks a little different every day! Our kids to go 12 specials a week. Yes, you read that right: 12! They LOVE it that they are old enough to walk across campus to Art or P.E. like the “big kids”. Here was our specials schedule last year:
-Mondays: Science & Spanish
-Tuesdays: Music & P.E.
-Wednesdays: Chapel, Technology & Spanish
-Thursdays: Music & Library
-Fridays: Chapel, P.E. & Art
So, I created a different kind of lesson planning sheet specifically for our schedule. It has been a TREMENDOUS help! Once I get everything plugged in there, I begin typing out daily schedules. The daily schedule is like our “flight plan” and keeps us on track for the day!

5. I Type Out a Daily Schedule:
On the daily schedule, I include things like: “finish art journals during free choice” and “Grey check out at 2:45,” as well as normal daily stuff like “morning meeting,” “calendar,” “snack,” and “lunch.” I carry this around on a clipboard all day and pencil in changes as needed. 

So that (in a nutshell) is my planning process! If it seems super interesting, I’ll go into more detail in another post! For this next year, I’m working on color-coding each subject on the schedule and the storage containers that its materials are stored in. (priorities)
Until I started teaching, I never realized that lesson planning looks different at every school! 

What does lesson planning look like at your school? Are your days really consistent or do they look like “college schedules?”

Share your process below and follow @organizedcharm on Instagram 🙂 

How I Differentiate ELA Small Groups

A couple of years ago, I was working in a low income school with low literacy scores. My kids needed support in ELA and, with 29 students, it was ridiculously time-consuming to analyze their iStation data and try to create individual small group interventions for them. 

Enter: Miss DeCarbo on a white horse waving her ELA Intervention Binder in the air. 

Y’all. She is amazing and this binder helped my kids improve SO much during our second semester! In December, I think eight of my 29 students had consistently been Tier 3. By May, six of them had moved up to Tier 1 or 2! 

Here’s how I use the binder to provide individual instruction at my teacher table: 
I split up the ELA binder into several smaller binders. This makes it easy for multiple children to work at once. 

Split it Up
First of all, instead of putting all of the contents in one binder, I split up the eight sections into colorful 3-ring binders:

Red: Letter Identification & Letter Naming
Orange: Letter Sounds & Phoneme Segmentation
Green: CVC Words & Blends/Digraphs
Blue: Nonsense Words & Fluency

Pink: This is actually Edition 2 (it covers things like diphthongs and vowel teams) Kindergarten is NOT expected to get to these skills, but many of them do, so I tell them they’re getting a “head start” on 1st grade 🙂 

I put each and every sheet into a sheet protector. Did this take a long time? Yes. BUT I did it two years ago, when I first bought this packet and those same sheets are still going strong! My kids use dry erase markers to work in the books. Then we just wipe each page off with a tissue before flipping to the next one! It saves a ton of time and paper in the long run! 

(Related: Best Organization Containers for Your Classroom)

Each child has an envelope and a card that shows them which book to get out. Yellow means they are practicing fluency in our classroom decodable readers. 
Individualize It
Having the packet split up into different books makes it easier to have each child at the table working on their own individual level. I give each child a Post-It with their name on it to stick on the top of the page they’re on. When they sit down, they know exactly where to pick up! 

(Read: Best TPT Products for Classroom Organization)

Once a week (on Thursdays), I transfer the most important notes from their index cards into my Student Data binder. 

Track Their Progress
Next to my teacher table, I have a bulletin board of pocket envelopes with each child’s name. Inside each one is an index card that they bring when they sit down at my table. I write notes about what I observe while working with them, such as “mixes up lowercase t and j” or “confuses /a/ and /e/”. The colored index card on top just shows which color book I need to get out for each child. 

This is super helpful while writing report cards and during conferences because it allows me to remember all of the little things I might have otherwise forgotten! Once they fill up one card, I simply get another index card and staple it on top. I have a date stamper so I can keep track of the dates. I also like to record monthly videos of each child’s progress to post to their individual stories on Class Dojo! This helps the parents see just how much progress they’re making from month-to-month and lets them see how they can help at home!

(Related: How I Organize My Lesson Planner)

They LOVE getting to use these little items during their reading! I also have Miss Decarbo’s Text Evidence passages, (equally amazing as her ELA binder) which is what those highlighters are used for!

Make it Interactive
I love Miss DeCarbo’s ideas about using pointers and googly eyes to make this a more kinesthetic learning activity! I have little containers of magnetic letters, dry erase boards, Unifix cubes, mirrors, and other things to make intervention more hands-on. Whenever a child gets stuck on a certain skill/level, we stop and I reteach the material in a hands-on way until the he or she achieves 80% mastery or higher on the current page. 

(Read: How to Organize Google Drive for Your Classroom)

Signing up to work at rest time/free choice it 100% voluntary, and they watch this board like hawks for a spot to open up! 
Motivate Them
Originally, I let them choose a sticker each time they get to a new “level” (skill). However, as the year goes on, they get pretty driven by thinking about each section as a level, and they frequently ask if they can come work during free choice! My list of kids wanting to work during their free choice started getting so long that I created this little pocket chart as a “waiting list”. 

When they want to work during free choice, they just get out their laminated name card and put it on the list. Once I work with a child, I take his/her name off, and another spot opens up on the list. I have used this small group system for three years now, in a turnaround school and in a private school, and the student motivation to work on reading has been exactly the same! 

(Related: Encouragement for First Year Teachers)

If you want to see more posts like this, check out the Organized Teaching tab at the top of the page!
This intervention binder has worked in my Kindergarten room for intervention as well as a normal workshop rotation. By Spring, my Kindergarteners can get out the book, dry erase marker, and index card and work independently! I either check their work, or have a child who’s already passed that level check it. 

This binder is $21 on TpT, but I probably use it 160 days of the school year… which is worth it to me! 🙂

How do you run your small groups? Do you have any tips for differentiating or keeping your system efficient? Share them below! 

How to Create Your Perfect Vision Board

One of my favorite pieces in our whole house is a bulletin board/chalkboard from Pottery Barn (PB Outlet, to be exact). We saw it on clearance and thought, “hey, we’ll use it for something.”
Flash forward five years, and I have used it for everything. It has been such a great investment for our home and life. It has helped us with school assignments, scheduling, decorating, and just looking cool.
And if you don’t want the one from Pottery Barn, you can always find similar pieces on Amazon, IKEA, and Target’s websites!

Here’s how I’m currently using it:

The first week of Summer Break, I took the time to really sit down and evaluate my goals. We’ve met some big ones in the past couple of years (buying a new house, getting a new job, having a baby), which is super exciting! 

But reaching big goals can also make you feel like, OK. Now what?!
So, I made a really elaborate mind map that started in my Passion Planner and eventually took up NINE blank pieces of paper (I mean, it’s Summer Break).

Then I collected happy little pictures from my life:

– I printed pictures from my life that make me happy (friends, travelling, celebration).
– Lilly 5×5’s from Instagram to add some cheerful colors (with all the money I’ve spent on Lilly, I didn’t think they’d mind).
– Quotes I made on the Little Moments App by FatMumSlim (probably my favorite photo editing app ever).

– I also added notes and cards from people I care about. These are uplifting to read and a great way to start or end the day!
– I finished it off with clipping happy little phrases out of catalogs/magazines.

Each picture represents a specific goal: 

On the back of each one, I took a Sharpie and wrote the small goal that it represented. That way, when everyone else looks at my board, all they see are pretty images… but I secretly know that each one stands for a certain goal that I’m working towards!
As the year has gone on, I’ve added images and notes to the board. I don’t take anything off, I just tack, staple, or tape the new images right on top (I usually just try to cover up the darkest colors). Once I reach a goal, I add a photo of it, such as a photo of a travel destination, or my baby boy!
While the bulletin board is the “inspirational” part, the chalkboard part actual “productive” part! Over the years, I’ve used it for inspirational quotes, to do lists, Post-It calendars, weekly planning, etc. Here’s what it currently looks like (sorry, it’s a little smudged)!

The best office supplies to make it fit your needs!

-I love, love LOVE the Expo Neon chalk markers. They’re usually like $17, but I found a really great deal on them at Office Max last year. So I bought 4 packs, and I still haven’t used them all!
-I’ve also used them to write right on the front of our stainless steel fridge and to make a faux stained glass window in our guest bathroom.
-Sticky Notes are great for making your chalkboard into a calendar, too! I like the $1.99 pack from Target for this!
-I’ve also used Washi Tape to make a Priority Quadrant… which was really helpful in grad school!

No matter what stage of life I’ve been in, having a vision/inspiration board has made it feel less chaotic… hopefully, it will work for motherhood, too! J

Do you use a board like this to keep you on track? How do you use it? What are your favorite supplies?! Share them below!