This is my third semester trying some sort of group supplies. Finally I think I have found a system that stays organized.The keys I've found are:
1. Labeling everything.
2. Duck-taping everything
3. Limiting most movement of the supplies.
This is what each group has at the end of each set of desks:.
1. White bin of supplies
2. Trash can
3. Drawer storage for blank paper and lined paper.
3. Colored pencils
4. Glue (sticks and sponge)
5. Tape dispenser
6. Regular pencils
8. Handheld pencil sharpener
Each supply has its own container. Labeling this has helped immensely. They are velcroed to the bottom of the bin, so it can be removed. Trash cans are velcroed to the side of the paper storage container.
Where do I get these supplies?
1. Sales before school starts.
2. Donation requests at open house (I'm fortunate to work at a school where many of the parents want to support teachers in this way)
3. Older teachers who don't need supplies or are retiring. (That is where a lot of my scissors especially came from)
4. The Dollar Tree (group bins, trash cans, organizers in the bins)
5. Teacher Supply Warehouse - my district has a supply center that runs by donations where teachers can "shop" for free to get supplies for the classroom. Ours is very under-utilized, check to see if your area has one. They have many things at mine that don't count towards your "points" and are really free and that is where I get a lot of the extra paper that I let the students use.
All my groups are color coded, and the supplies have a strip of duck tape at the top to indicate what group it needs to be returned to. That has greatly helped keep supplies put away this semester. It is much easier to return it to the proper place and not have to wonder why the yellow group has no colored pencils.
Let me know if you have any questions!