Organization is usually first taught in schools, and cleverly using color is one of the best ways to teach it. Color-coding is highly effective and can be used for objects in the classroom, school supplies, the furniture itself, and so much more. Follow these steps if you are a teacher looking to use color-coding in your classroom.
It is important early on for young children to get used to having a schedule and the responsibilities it brings. What better way to help them understand schedules than by color-coding it? For each weekday, have a specific color attached to each subject that will be taught throughout the day. It is essential that each color is different so you and the kids can start to easily distinguish the subjects. This can then lead to a personal planner the student may use down the line. It is helpful to have a calendar located in the room that is color-coordinated as well. This can have specific colors for holidays, tests, and when there is no school.
Group activities are important in learning, and a classroom will often be divided up into stations for an activity. An easy way for students to follow directions and get to the right station is to have each one labeled with a specific color and number. A sign can hang from the ceiling with the number and color, making identification easy.
Another step to color-coding your classroom can start before school even begins. When students have to get school supplies, have them get different colored folders. This way, each color can represent a certain subject, so everything remains organized. Make sure the folders are labeled clearly with the subject name. Folders have different colors for a reason, so take full advantage of that. If you have any folders in the classroom that are used by students, color-coordinate those as well.
Similarly to folders, binders can utilize color-coding to make them as efficient and helpful as possible. If they are necessary for worksheets that students use, teach them how to organize each section of that binder with the color-coded tab dividers. You can divide it up based on subjects, chapters, and so on. If multiple binders are needed, keep the overall color consist with the colors already designated for each subject.
No classroom is complete without some sort of book selection. This means having a bookshelf where students can pick a book they are interested in reading. Try to have it organized like a mini library, where a colored-label can help the student find a book they are interested in. A label should be placed on the book’s binding that has the first three letters of an author’s last name, a genre, and a color letting them know whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. There should be a distinction made for textbooks, too—this can easily be made with color. Having a color makes it easy for students to return books back to where they are supposed to go, which is a key for organization.
Desks for younger students will have features like a nametag and other tools they can use. For group activities, have a color placed on their desk, so they know where they belong to. Perhaps this has to do with varying subjects and schedules. Having color on the furniture can help improve a student’s mood, creativity, and confidence in school. Some great colors to implement in classroom desks, chairs, the walls, and more include yellow, green, red, and blue. Not only will these look great, but they’ll improve your classroom’s flow and organization.
Notetaking is a vital skill for students to learn early on. Help them understand this by using color strategically. A useful way to learn how to take notes while reading a book is to highlight important text passages. There may be instances where two different colors may have to be used for highlighting in the book. Another benefit is to have sticky notes to help get a message across. Colored Post-it Notes can be used to mark something in a textbook so it can be found faster. For instance, a sticky note can be used to divide up the chapters in the textbook and signify the reason a student marked it.
Color can also be of great use within presentations. Colors can be used to highlight information when writing on a whiteboard. To keep important information up on the board and not confuse it with other classes, put it in the same color with the subject it applies to, so students are aware. For example, always have science subjects written in green, English subjects written in red, and so on.
Flashcards are still an incredible way to study for an exam, whether it be for a vocab quiz or a history test. If you do make flashcards for students, group them into different categories, so it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. It also allows students to focus on one thing at a time. So, make sure flashcards are made up of different categories with colors that signify the subject at hand.
A classroom may have various bins filled with important contents used for lessons. If something needs to be used for a lesson, it should be easily accessible. Having bins color-coded and labeled can be extremely helpful for teachers and make their lessons far more efficient.
More classrooms are embracing technology in classrooms today. Tablets can be color-coordinated and labeled based on who they belong to with the use of colored adhesive dots. The colored dots can be placed on the tablet and marked with a number, so there is a count on how many there are and they can be organized and distributed properly.
For elementary and preschool students especially, color is such an important component of learning and needs to have a big presence in classrooms. Becoming organized is one of the best ways for students to succeed throughout their academic career and in life. Them seeing that early on in a classroom where color is intentionally and effectively used can help.
Update from April 2021
Even with the use of technology in the classroom becoming more popular and the use of paper and notebooks becoming less popular, the classroom still needs to remain organized in many other areas. Organizing student's belongings, crafting supplies or other objects can be made easier with labeling tape or color coded dots!