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Taming the Word Work Chaos

Keeping word work materials organized

Isn't this how it usually goes...the new year rolls around and we decide to get our homes and classrooms organized.  I don't know about you, but word work materials can quickly become chaos!  Many student groups, all on different levels needing different words, not enough time and soon enough everything is a mess!

Here are some easy to set up and easy to maintain ways I keep my word work materials organized and ready for my reading students. Some of the the links below are referral links, which means,  I will earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

1.  Magnetic Letter Boxes

Organizing Word Work Classroom Materials

One of the biggest organization problems is all those magnetic letters!  I have lots of letters and I just can't take it if they are all mixed up.  This divided letter box is fabulous!  It came with my letters from Lakeshore.  If your school doesn't have the budget for that, you can get a clear plastic fishing lure box in the hunting/fishing department at Walmart.  It works great too!  I get asked about these boxes from Lakeshore.  They came with stickers to label each individual section to help students find and put back the magnetic letters.

Organizing Word Work Classroom Materials

I keep our letters for making a new sight word in these little plastic cups from Dollar General.  The cups make it easy to prep your words for all the different guided reading groups.  I use different colors for different groups.  

2.  Word Sorting Cards Storage

How to Organize Word Sorting Cards for Word Work

I'm sure you use those little word sort cards and picture sorting sound cards like I do.  

We sort a lot of pictures for word work and they easily can become a mixed up mess.

But after using the word sorting or picture sorting cards, put them back together.

And store them in these plastic pocket folders.  This is a small one about the size you would use for coupons.  This one has 13 different slots.  I paper clip my groups and then store in the folder.  I keep them by short vowels, long vowels, etc...

3.  Student Baskets

Organizing Word Work Materials with student baskets

I know some teachers hand out each set of materials they need during guided reading and then take them back.  That just didn't work for me- personal preference.  I bought these cute narrow baskets at Dollar General and I keep almost every single extra material they will need in them.

Organizing Word Work Materials

The baskets sit on my tables all of the time.  Students are in charge of keeping the materials in the baskets- not me.

Organizing Word Work Materials

Pencils & eraser, dry erase markers & eraser (make up puff from Dollar Tree), paint strips for segmenting sounds, reading strategies bookmark, word cups and a pom pom are all kept in the baskets.

Using Linking Charts for Phonics Word Work

You can use the pom pom or bingo chip in the baskets to use when reading linking charts.  No passing out extra materials.  Keep it all right there!

4.  Student Reading Notebooks

Reader's Notebook for Organizing Student Learning

I started using Reader's Notebooks for my guided reading groups a few years ago and I haven't looked back!  The work kept there is a great way to show progression of skills.  This one with tabs make all the difference in helping students keep it organized!

Using Linking Charts for Word Work

I also have students keep their linking charts in the notebooks.  I do not want to be handing these charts out all the time and taking them back up so in the notebooks they go and stay. 

Using Linking Charts during Word work

I place the charts in plastic sleeves first so we can write on them.  

5.  Phonics Binders

Phonics Word Work Intervention Binders for guided reading and RTI Intervention Groups

Seriously, I should own stock in notebooks!  I use so many of them for my classroom, but it's what works for me.  

Phonics Binders for Word Work in guided reading and RTI Intervention Groups

These phonics word work binders are different from the student Reader's Notebooks.  These binders are strictly for phonics and word work practice. 

Phonics Word Work Binders for RTI

Using no prep, just print and use binders make it easy to get the materials into binders and into the hands of the students.  The phonics binders can be used for word work during guided reading and during RTI intervention groups.  Each student is placed in the binder that best fits their skill level and helps move them forward.  It is so easy to differentiate within each binder too.

Hope these organization tips were helpful to you and helps you manage your work work materials!



  1. This was a great post. I love your organization ideas, especially the intervention binders. I love the idea of putting these together using plastic sleeves so that they can be re-used with different kiddos. I love your phonics intervention bundles...they would be perfect for my strugglers.

    Kathy O.
    Third Grade Doodles

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy! The plastic sleeves are super for the intervention binders!

  2. Organization is important, and you are a master at it!

    1. Thanks Tammy! Too many kids not to be organized!

  3. I'm reading this post as a end of the school year re-post and love the organizational tips, especially the student baskets! Love the idea of the paint chip strip to help with sounding out! Overall wonderful ideas for literacy!

    1. Thanks Becca! The laminated paint strips are great for sound boxes!


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