One Man’s Trash is Another Teacher’s Organizer

So, if you’re anything like me then you are CHEAP. You are not one of these teachers out there spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on your classroom because you simply don’t have the money.

This year God has provided a way for us to afford new siding on our house, but it has taken keeping to a very strict budget along with God’s providential hand to make this happen. So, needless to say, we have no extra money.

So, I decided to get creative this year and use things that I already had to create fun things for my classroom. One man’s trash is another man’s…..Yup! You guessed it!

This is the first treasure I made. I LOVE pens! Love them. I never throw them away and I keep getting more and more each year, but they are all over my desk in various mugs. This year I decided that I didn’t want to crowd my desk with supplies.

So….I created this pen organizer.

So, I took a regular-sized cereal box and measured it vertically. It came to 12 inches tall. I found 6″ on the ruler and tick-marked this on the box. I then drew a horizontal line at the 6″ mark and cut. This gave me 2 equal parts (one on top and one on bottom).

I then took a sheet of copy paper, folded it in half, and drew a half circle on one half. I cut this half circle out to make a template. I placed the half circle on one half of the box that I had cut. I traced the circle and then cut it out.

What you do at this point is totally up to you. But I will tell you how I saved even more money.

Last year at our local 99 Cent Store, I noticed that they had Chevron contact paper. So, I stocked up and bought 5-6 rolls. I found it easy to use on the cardboard boxes. But again, you make this however you want that is cost-efficient and easy!

This is the contact paper I bought at the 99 Cent Store. Don’t have one? Try Dollar Tree. They also sell Contact Paper.

You know nothing ever goes right the first time you try it. So, on the second box I got smart and tried something different.

Contact Paper is super sticky! So, be careful working with it because it will stick to everything (including itself – and then you’re in a mess).

I opened up the bottom of the cereal box. I measured a piece of that Contact Paper (if you notice it has lines making it super easy to measure and cut) to fit the back wall of the pen organizer. This part will stick up higher than the front because remember you cut a half circle in the front of the box.

I took the backing off the Contact Paper and slowly slid it to fit the inside (back) of the pen organizer. This is important. Otherwise, the back of your organizer will just look like cardboard if you don’t put something there.

After I got the back of the organizer fixed up, I closed the bottom of the box and taped it. I didn’t realize that a cereal box is so wide, so I can fit SEVERAL pens in one organizer. I wanted to give it more support by taping it up.

  • I also cut a strip off another cereal box to lay inside the organizer to give it more support on the bottom. You know how when you buy a brand new bag, they always have that cardboard in the bottom for support? That was my thought process. Again, it depends on what you want to put it in to know how sturdy it will need to be.

I failed to take a picture of the next part, probably because my hands were full, but I pretty much just laid that box down (front first) and wrapped it like a present.

I cut the extra Contact Paper off the top (your half circle) and then wrapped the remaining paper around the box. I did find that I had to use tape on the inside because some of the Contact Paper was coming to come up. If you have some that is more durable you may not find this to be the case.

You may want to stop right there and put magnets on the back to create an organizer for your board or filing cabinet. I wanted to add ribbon.

So, I found some Dollar Tree ribbon in my stash of borders that I hot glued on the inside of the organizer. I found that when I tried to hang it, the ribbon stretched because I cut it too long.


I bunched up the ribbon and hot glued every two pieces together to make it shorter. I loved the look of it and decided to stop right there.

I found FREE black/white labels on Teachers Pay Teachers. I downloaded this cute one and found a fun font on Power Point. I labeled this one PENS. I will probably also create one for markers and some other office supply. I plan on making three of these.

I copied that label onto Cardstock and hot glued it to the front. I like the look, but I hope to find a pretty watercolor for my next label. I will upload when I find it.

I wanted to update this and tell you that I realized these organizers are wider than I originally thought. So, today I had this idea…

I took (4) toilet paper rolls and glued them together. This created individual holders that fit perfectly inside the organizer.

I think I will take them back out again and paint them gray so they don’t just scream TOILET PAPER ROLL. They would also be easy to spray paint.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy making these. I would be glad to answer any questions. Feel free to share a photo telling me how you used this in your classroom.


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