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  1. #1

    Default Organizing School Supplies with multiple kids

    I have gallons of colored pencils, pencils, pens, sharpies, dry-erase markers, thin-tip markers, washable markers, crayons, pens-for-mom, etc, not to mention scissors, tape, staplers, hole punchers....

    .... and it has resisted my attempts at coherent organization for as long as Ive been homeschooling.

    Is this a typical problem for homeschoolers? Do other people have no trouble maintaining MarthaStewart and pInterest worthy supply organization? Should I just dump all the stuff into buckets and hope we can find stuff when we need it?

    If you are successful, what does it look like? Do you enforce a "we are done with the project NOW, you must put the markers away and may not touch them until the next appointed time" sort of policy? Do your kids respect an "only Mom may dispense these" policy? (Mine plunder and dont put back.)

    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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  3. #2


    I think having art supplies invites a quasi-permanent sense of chaos. But I have a ton of it, and it sorts like this:

    IKEA cart for everyday supplies (pencils, scissors, hole-punches, paper, string, tape, paint, etc.) I have a second cart for "practical life" works, which will eventually evolve into art and craft supplies, while the first cart will hold more "school" supplies - notebooks, writing paper, etc. I have refills in tubs hidden away.

    The Ms each have a very small tool tub, with low-heat glue guns, small tools, stuff like that. These are on open shelving and accessible.

    I have my own set of everything I'd need, and the kids don't get to use those supplies. They are pretty good about not touching my stuff, since they have so much of their own. My stuff is incorporated into my desk/file cabinet set up.

    As long as everything is cleared away by dinnertime, It can stay out and be worked on. Projects in progress can go on/in one of their desks.
    FKA Hordemama
    Stay-at-home-librarian parenting a horde of two sons: Marauder 1 (M1) born in 2007, and Marauder 2 (M2) born in 2012.

  4. #3


    I think it's a matter of how much mess you can stomach temporarily.....for the most part, when they get to Jr/Sr. High School you will no longer have art supply messes around. This too shall pass, and you'll reminisce about it with a smile.

    My younger son still does a lot of drawing and manages to keep all of his supplies in order, on his own.

    I just met them halfway.....they wanted it all out all the time. I wanted it all cleaned up and organized. It was always a little of both. I couldn't be the controlling schoolmarm....but it showed to any visiting guests....oh well, they'll get over it.

    And having a separate space/room to be able to close the door on occasion helped me with my denial! LOL!!!

    I would add though, that it's good to make sure you don't open a new pack of colored pencils/markers just because they are out of ONE color!!! I think we ALL been there
    Homeschooling two sons (14 and 16) from day one. Atheist.
    Eclectic, Slackschooler covering 8th and 10th grades this year.

  5. #4


    It is not too bad for us. Each of my 3 kids has her own big plastic bin with all of that stuff and the bins stay in their special learning/coloring/crafting areas. The kids are not perfect about putting it all back, their stuff might stay on the table and under the table, but definitely not all over the house.
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  6. #5


    Haha! My home certainly does not have a Martha Stewart quality to it! And I think anyone who's does finds organizing to be more of a hobby (than a chore) that they enjoy. It's not my hobby for sure but I do try to keep to as much of a minimalist lifestyle as I can to keep things easier (with kids... things are still messy/cluttered, it's just the way of it).

    I have a secretary desk and I have a skeleton key for it. I keep crayons, pens, pencils, etc. in it. So yes, when they're done with their crayons and such it's "clean up, clean up" time and I lock them away again. Previous to doing it this way the crayons would all get broken into a ton of different tiny pieces and I'd be finding them weeks (yeah, even months) later in all kinds of places, even down the heating vents!

    Now it's worth noting that I have to do this for my 2 and 3 year olds. My 7 year old on the other hand is old enough that this is a non-issue. She actually has her own personal set of crayons in her room (some fancy thing with like over 100 crayons, even glitter ones) and an artistic kit with several types of things like colored pencils, oil pastels, etc. She always keeps it nice and organized. My guess is that I won't have to keep these things looked away when not in use forever. Haha!

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katrah View Post
    ... And I think anyone who's does finds organizing to be more of a hobby (than a chore) that they enjoy.
    This is so true. I love organizing stuff, but yeah the amount is overwhelming. I started putting all my consumable supplies on one shelf in my garage, then I put sticky notes on the front of the shelf saying what is where. Pretty much everything has its own $1 store box.

    I'm trying to organize other stuff like games and books by subject and unit because that seems to be the direction we are going. I put all my science books in one bin, for example, spines up and a large sticky note where I start a new unit - Earth Science, Insects, Space... But then I've got overspill with stuff I was recently gifted from a retired science teacher - a big box of rainforest stuff and a box of magnets. So that's separate. It's a lot to keep track of. I'm sure I'll miss stuff when I go looking, but I'm forcing myself to dig before I buy. We do end up with library books of books we already have quite a bit.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

    I gather all kinds of secular homeschool resources and share them at

  8. #7


    We have a workshop with two walls of cabinets. Many of the supplies we use less often go into these cabinets. It looks clean and organized, but the problem is we often forget what we have and don't use items because they are out of sight. (The workshop is also my husband's wood working and tinkering area so the kids rarely use it for their projects.) The other day I gave away a bunch of art/craft supplies my children have lost interest in and we rarely or never used. We decided we are going to go through the cabinets more often.

    Things like sharpies, colored pencils, pens, and other items that are used often - typically for drawing/coloring - are kept in small mason jars. We have them on all three levels of the the kids 'lounge' (previously a playroom) which is upstairs, in the kitchen on the main floor, and on large table in a room in the basement. They do projects in all three spaces. The jars look fine out on the tables or counters. The kids also have a large 'junk drawer' in the kitchen with other items like glue, hole punches, card stock, etc. that they use often. In the kids lounge, they have square fabric bins with non-messy craft supplies for crocheting, embroidery, perler beads, duct tape, etc.

    I just realized we also have mason jars full of paint brushes and some of our paints in a cabinet in the laundry room by the sink. I guess we have stuff all over the house...and our car. There are knitting/crocheting supplies and sketch pads/pencils in the storage compartments of the mini-van!
    homeschooled 4th through 8th grade - currently in public high school 10th grade
    Dumplett (girl - age 15) and Wombat (boy - age 15)

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Organizing School Supplies with multiple kids