Color coding in the classroom isn't a new concept in the realm of special education. Or at least I don't feel that it is. I think there are some common no brainers on how one might color code materials in their room, but we all have different ideas so there could surely be ways we've never thought of before. And surely there are some road blocks while color coding that can sometimes make you wonder why you started it in the first place.
I've put together a round up of what color coding looks like in my classroom. This is the first year I've really "driven home" the idea of color coding for my students and have used it in just about every aspect. I think the biggest challenge of color coding in your classroom is finding the materials you need in the colors you need.
For a small class you're going to go with your obvious colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. That's 6 color options that are pretty easy to find materials in, especially at back to school time when the store shelves are stocked with materials.
But what about when that class size goes beyond 7 and you're forced to resort to your "less common classroom colors". This might include pink, gray, teal, lime green, and maybe even black. Black's a pretty easy color to find resources for so maybe this was your first go to for student number 7. But what about when you have a classroom of all boys and you're trying to be nice and avoid the color pink? Enter white!--But maybe you needed white because your class size is JUST that big. I'd like to say I feel bad for you if you've hit that many colors but sadly that's my classroom as well.
I've had to play around with color coding as the school year has gone on. I've had new students added and as I make new materials for the students or the classroom that I feel should be color coded. One thing I would keep in mind: some materials just do not exist in the color that you need them in. Therefore, assign colors wisely. Or choose materials more wisely.
For example, my younger students do not have Visual Support Folders. However, those younger students were already assigned colors that it is easy to find file folders in (i.e. red and orange). So I had to order more file folders in "uncommon" colors like gray and teal. (No sweat I'll use them for File Folder Activities but you see my point here). This same rule can be applied to our homework folders. My pre-school students aren't assigned homework therefore they do not need homework folders. Again, it's easier to find plastic 2 pocket pronged folders in your primary colors than it is in pink, teal, gray, and lime green. However, Amazon can rescue you there. Amazon also helped me find 1inch clear view binders in these colors.
And of course you can't forget the bins. How could you forget the bins?! You'll need somewhere to organize and house each student's color coded materials and how dare you organize them in anything besides a container that matches their already assigned color!?!! Am I right? #OCDteachersunite
Really Good Stuff is going to help you out there. You might already, again, have book bins out the wazoo in ROY.G.BIV. but what about the other colors you've had to assign because your class size is ridiculous. (Am I projecting here?) So I ordered this set of really good book bins from Really Good Stuff.
It includes every color I've already assigned, additional colors I'm planning on assigning and I *think* I might have 1 extra bin in there.
I use our windowsill to store these bins. I hate that the AC unit is in the middle and I can't fit them all in a better row but this is my best option with how many colors we need.
Inside each bin the students have the following color coded items:
- Data Binder: I store previous benchmark data collection here and any work samples I keep.
- Math Notebook: spiral ring notebook for their math journal
- Visual support folders: (not pictured) but when we are not using our visual support folders I store them in each students color coded bin.
I also keep any IEP documents in their bins, the reader books they are working on, or are finished with and any packets we might be working on (i.e. Math Shape Journals).
Their parent communication notebooks are color coded composition notebooks and I've also color coded their breakfast/lunch tags too!
So how do I solve the dilemma of color coding? I think it comes down to considering your resources and being creative. The bins I shared above are literally *perfect* since they come in so many colors. From there I can find most the resources I've chosen at any office supply store or on Amazon for the less common colors.
Color coding not only helps me stay organized, but I think it's helpful for our students too. It's easy for them to remember their assigned color and find their materials easily when asked. Do you color code in your room? If so, how many students/colors are you up to using?