Tubs, Tubs, and MORE Tubs!

If you teach Early Childhood, you know that a pre-made curriculum is nonexistent for us. This means that we must create our own. Personally, the hardest part of teaching Early Childhood  has always been where to go next? How do I push my students to learn more? What do I teach them now?
I have come to realize that theme or unit based teaching is what makes the most sense for me. It gives me an avenue to guide my students' learning, while also incorporating all of the skills; literacy, math, social, fine motor, language, etc. With theme based learning comes LOTS of supplies! I have tried organizing these supplies many different ways. I have used file cabinets for the paper type things and stored manipulative materials with the rest of our toys, but this never seemed functional. I would always find materials needed after I did the unit, or would have to dig through the entire tub of playdough tools to find the type of cookie cutters I needed for that unit. I quickly realized that I needed to keep units together, rather than spread out throughout the classroom. This is where the tubs come into play.
About 3 years ago, I started my tub system and it has worked wonderfully for me. I simply store ALL themed materials in their own tub. This includes laminated materials that I have bought and/or created, playdough cookie cutters, stamps, stickers, dramatic play materials, crafts, etc. In the beginning, I was including the books that correlate with the themes, but since I have TONS of books and they were taking up too much tub real estate, I have recently separated the books to a bookshelf, sorted by theme.
materials materials2

Currently I have 14 themed tubs which include: Back to School, Apples, Pumpkins, Trees, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Farm, Christmas, Winter, Transportation, Garden, Insects, Easter, and Camping. This number of tubs continues to grow as I come up with new units. shelf tubs

The one downfall to the tub system is finding a space to store them all. In a perfect world, these would all fit in my classroom. However, we all know that our classrooms are small and PACKED FULL of toys and other teaching materials in the Early Childhood world. Luckily for me, I have the space in my basement to store these. Because of this, I try to plan ahead and bring the tub I will need with me to work a couple weeks in advance. This allows me to create my lesson plans during my plan time, rather than the last minute on a Sunday night. I also bring an empty, catch all, tub at the beginning of the year. This way, I can throw all of those things I forget to pack away in this tub and only have this one tub to sort through at the end of the year.
catch all tubThe initial purchase of the tubs wasn't small, but this system has been the easiest for me. When lesson planning, I pull out the tub I want and look through all of the materials that I already have. This allows me to create plans using what I already have and if I have new ideas, I just simply add them to the tub. This also keeps me from losing those fake flowers that I used the year before and having to go out and buy more. It's really a win-win situation! 
Lynn Wilke


About The Author

My name is Lynn Wilke. I live in Aviston, IL with my husband, Adam, and daughter, Aris. I am a self contained early childhood teacher at Highland Primary School. I have worked in a blended preschool setting previously but love the small group instruction that my self contained class offers. My kiddos are each unique in their own way and receive individualized attention daily. We use ABA to work through academic readiness, language building, fine motor, and many other skills throughout the day. I can't wait to share some of my classroom with you through this blog!


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