Stashing Lesson Materials Using Large Folders

Keeping my art room organized is important for my sanity. When my art room isn’t kept clean and organized, I lose things and I feel as though I’m losing my mind. Not only do I struggle, but my students have trouble finding things that they once could find. Everyone appreciates routines and an organized classroom.

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One of the ways I help keep my middle school classroom organized is by keeping all of the materials for my lesson plans in one large folder. This idea could work for any grade level.

Someone donated a large quantity of these folders to me a couple of years ago and they have been a life saver. If you don’t want to spend the money, you could also making your own using a large piece of paper folded in half and tape the edges together.

On the outside of the folder I write the name of the lesson plan and make a quick sketch of what the art project looks like. You could also write the grade level on the outside.

Inside the envelope, I put a copy of the lesson plan, lesson plan examples, student step by step directions, and other important information that pertains to the lesson. I color coordinate the folders for each grade level so students can easily identify their materials on the counter. For example, 7th grade is magenta.

Here is the folder for my 7th grade Quilt Printmaking lesson plan.


I keep a pile of lesson plan envelopes in the cupboard in grade level stacks.

Storing large folders

When my students are ready for a new project, I go to my stack, and pull out the next lesson plan’s folder.

How do you keep all your lesson plans and materials organized?

File folders? Digitally? Using boxes, folders or bins? Do share! 

Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Jorena

    I use clean pizza boxes. Each time I go pick up pizza at the local pizza parlor (once every 2-3 months) I ask for five medium clean boxes and since they know I’m an art teacher, they oblige. I have nice neat stacks of thin boxes labeled on one of my shelves. It’s my free solution.

  • kirbyl

    I use those 2-1/2 gallon hefty zipper bags for my art projects. They are large enough for samples, large paper, and supplies. Also, small reference books and pictures. I label them on the top and can keep 20-30 in a plastic tub so I can flip through them and find the lesson I need. Keeps a lot of lessons in a very small space.

  • Lisa Hartz

    Almost all of my stuff is digital at this moment. I’m still new at this and haven’t accumulated too much stuff – yet. I have a very organized folder system in my computer though. One folder per grade. Then within each grade are folders divided by artists or broad concepts. Within those folders, I have lesson plans, student examples (since I use Artsonia, it’s easy to get images of good and not-so-good examples), and any other links, videos, or images I might use relating to the lesson. I also have a flash drive that is always plugged into my computer with my sub plans and images of examples. This is much easier to keep around the room than a big sub-tub!
    I love all the ideas shared so far for how to store and organize the actual physical products! I definitely plan to implement a better organizing system over the summer!
    One question though – I have quite a few large posters with no flat file or even a drawer big enough. What’s a good way to store those and keep them looking nice? Right now they’re underneath the shelves on the floor in the back and I am not happy with that!

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