Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Card Storage

Be sure to pop over to this post and enter the giveaway for a bundle of animal materials for Montessori language/grammar/zoology work!

Our grammar work this week uses a lot of cards.  All of those cards have brought up a few questions about how we store and display our cards.  I've posted on this topic before, but I know it can be hard to find that kind of information when it is nested inside a post on another topic.

Basically, I store all of our card material...whether they are 3-part cards, 2-part cards, 1-part cards, or 20-part cards in 6x9 manilla envelopes.  They are super cheap if you buy them in a case of 100 like I did.  I think they cost me 7 cents an envelope or something like that.

Cards from the Montessori Print Shop usually already include a handy-dandy label for the front of your storage.  Otherwise, I just print one extra of any card of my choosing that "sums up" the contents.  Here is a picture of one of the works you can win in the giveaway this week all nestled in its 6x9 envelope:

Nearly every shelf in our classroom is outfitted with a clear, plastic napkin holder.  I get them at the dollar store.  Any card sets that I want to have out for the kids to choose freely are slipped into the napkin holder on the shelf that closest fits the subject matter. The napkin holders hold nomenclature books well also. Here is a glimpse of the napkin holders on a few of our culture shelves:

Here is a rarely-photographed angle in our classroom:

Sorry, I didn't bother to straighten the shelves before I snapped the photo. I think the last time the room was photographed from this angle it was for the school room tour.  What's new is the long row of baskets on top of the tall shelves.  My Montessori materials storage area is in the basement.  I have more continent box materials for the boys than should be in their boxes at once so I need to rotate those items to keep interest fresh.  It just wasn't convenient to have those materials in the basement anymore.  Now, I have one basket up top for each continent.  I also have two extra, smaller baskets on the far-right for things that what otherwise would lead me down to the basement daily.

Right now those are "reading" and "grammar."  The reading basket holds all of the cards and readers I have made to date for Kal-El using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  Me Too has started to use these so I needed to put them where I could get them daily.  The grammar basket holds all of the grammar materials I've made so that I can get those ready for the boys.

When we are done with something (for now) or I've made something for far into the future it goes to my storage space.

Here, everything is stored in bankers boxes by subject.

There are certainly fancier and more beautiful ways to store and use different sets of cards.  I know I've seen beautifully sewn fabric envelopes with a compartment for each part of the card sets.  The stacking wooden trays are nice as well.  However, after a while you start to accumulate a LOT of cards and these options aren't very practical in the long-term or economical.  They also assume that your cards are always going to have a certain number of "parts" and are going to remain consistent in size.

I like the freedom of not worrying what size the cards are (And believe me, if you are cobbling together free resources from all over the web, they will vary in size.)  I also like that they can be put away with little fanfare.

This does mean that the first step the boys need to complete when they do this work is to sort the cards (unless they are in one part) so that they are categorized for matching.  Most of the time the different parts of cards are different sizes so they are very easy to sort quickly.  Other times, I color code the cards to facilitate sorting, like this:

The 6x9 envelopes allow for a lot of breathing room so you can put smaller envelopes within the envelopes or keep like-parts together with rubber bands.  Most of the time the boys put them in there in "clumps" according to color and the the envelopes are small enough that they come back out in a "clump" the next time.  Easy peasy.

I hope this answers everyone's questions!  Happy schooling!

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  1. WOW! Thanks for sharing your system. I need to get organized.

  2. Sara,

    You're welcome! Hey, if one person gets one idea from a post, I'm pretty happy :)

  3. Look at your wonderful storage system!! I needed inspiration to continue/finish my art supply organization project - this was just what I needed!

  4. I always love seeing your organizing posts. I'm not a very organized person, but if I follow someone else's lead I can sometimes get it. I am planning to try and replicate your system here, soon!

  5. I love this! I had no idea how to store all the cards and was shoving them into a big box. Thanks for giving me inspiration! :)