The Bucket System

Mop buckets ain’t for moppin’ in my library!

When I first started as our school’s librarian, I knew I would need a good system to organize my materials for each class. I wish I could tell you what I did before I realized that mop buckets were my answer, but I don’t remember those days. I think I blacked it out because I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

Each bucket is labeled with a grade level. The buckets fit two per shelf behind my circulation desk. In each bucket I keep a clipboard (labeled with grade) with seating charts and lesson plans. The materials I need for the lesson are in the bucket. For most of my units, I can keep all of my materials for the entire month ready.

I love the buckets because I just take the one I need from the shelf over to our reading carpet, the computer lab, or a group of tables.  When I’m finished with a lesson and put books I read aloud back in the bucket, students know these books are off limits. If I leave a book out for them they can check it out. It’s a great way to keep them from being confused about which books I’m done teaching with and which I need for other classes.

What’s your tried-and-true method for organizing materials?


  1. Great idea! I’m a first year elementary librarian and I’ve been trying to figure out a system for myself.

  2. I love this idea. I will be going to Home Depot once it stops snowing. I started using colored baskets for the day of the week this year and it has helped keep my lessons straight from week to week. Really Good Stuff has all kinds of sizes and colors for library and classroom use.

  3. I have struggled with this for years and tried many things… I like the bucket idea! I finally have a paperwork system that works for me… I have tried many things and nothing has seemed to do the trick. Last year I went with a binder for each day of the week. Within that binder are dividers for each class and then within each class section it has seating charts, class tracking sheet for library scores, AR info, notebook paper, and a pocket for a catch-all of papers relating to that class. I use the notebook paper as a plan book/journal so I can jot down what we did, which kids need more help, which kids were stinkers, etc. It has become my “pensive” for remembering all those things I don’t remember by the time I see the kids again.

  4. I definitely need a better plan for tracking data about students. I use my seating chart to track who talks during the introduction of our lesson when we share good news with each other. But I do an awful job of tracking student behavior from week to week. As I always say…maybe next year! One step at a time!

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