Organizing with a Bag

This year I’ve had a hard time keeping up with school curriculum, lesson plans, and materials for my 6 children. I love organizing things, but for some reason I could not get certain subjects and their materials under control. Then my mom got an organizing tote from Thirty-One Gifts and my organizational wheels started turning. I wanted to take it from her, but she likes to carry her water kefir back and forth to work in her tote, so I had to get my own.

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Yes, I did get this bag to match my All About Reading Curriculum! 😉 I decided to use my organizing tote for my 5yr.old’s language arts curriculum. Everything I need to teach her is in this tote. She even knows its her tote, so when it is her turn, she’ll bring it with her. Sometimes we have our lessons on the kitchen table, other times in the homeschool room and occasionally– in the living room on the floor.

This is what the tote looks like when it first arrived (well, minus the pencil case I forgot to take out.) You don’t have to use it for curriculum. The options are endless. I however, needed curriculum organizational help.
I purchased a clear, open top file box to slip into my 31 bag. You can find these on Amazon or at The Container Store.

The file box fit my curriculum perfectly. The problem was that it wasn’t very easy to carry around and there was no room left for any pencils, pens, markers, etc.

But the file box paired with the 31 tote was a perfect match! Kind of like Oreos and milk– a perfect combination :)

I love that all the pockets are on the outside! There are 3 pockets on the front, 2 on the side, and 2 on the back. So many places to tuck things in!

We’ve have everything we need for the lesson right at our fingertips.

My daughter’s tote contains her All About Reading teacher’s manual, student book, word cards, and 3 books. I also have her handwriting and another workbook she likes to use. In addition, I have file folders set up for sight-word practice. In these files are sight-word printables (a combination of You Can Read and Ready to Read) and sight-word cards. No longer do I start a lesson and have to get up and go find the other part! I love that both my boxed curriculum and my pieced-together curriculum can exist peacefully in the same tote.

Disclosure: I was provided Thirty-One organizing totes for review purposes only. Opinions are my own. I’ve owned several Thirty-One products and love them. There are also affiliate links in this post. Thank you in advance for supporting this site.

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  1. Homegrown Learners says

    This is great! I have heard so much about these totes, and seeing one in action makes me WANT one! Thanks for the chance!

  2. Homegrown Learners says

    My best home organizing tip is to keep a basket at the base of my stairs… anything that has to go "up" during the day gets thrown inside and at night we all take a few minutes when we're upstairs to return everything to its home!

  3. Marci says

    What a great idea! I use a crate for moving curriculum around the house. This would be so much better and I could take with with us!

  4. Caroline says

    One of my favorite organizing tips is to put things away immediately! Rather than wait and let things pile (which I still do, unfortunately), I tell myself to take the 10-30 seconds to go ahead and PUT IT AWAY! Plus, I love bins and things to give everything a place.

    Thanks for this kind opportunity!

  5. Lindsay says

    I am new to homeschooling. We are doing our first year of preschool this year and I am getting ready to start Kindergarten next year. That said I don't have very many organization tips yet. I currently have stuff EVERYWHERE and want a place to organize per subject area! The only thing I have organized is our craft supplies. I have them all in one cabinet with lots of different containers.

  6. Meredith F. says

    I'm not a terribly organized homeschooler, but I'm finding that having a place for everything and actually keeping things in their places is making my life easier and less chaotic. 😀

  7. Jodi McKenna says

    You sold me!!!!! This would be great for all of the boys stuff . . . so I guess that means I need three. Sigh.

  8. Jennie Shellenberger says

    I share your enthusiasm for 31 Products! I have several bags, most of them given to me as gifts. But there is always another that I would love to have. You idea of putting the box in the tote is genius!

  9. Jennie Shellenberger says

    My favorite home organizing idea is for my toddler's busy bags. I have a closet where we store our school things. I hung a twine along the wall, and then hung her busy bags on the twine with clothespins. They are easy to store, easy to find, and look cute too!

  10. Shirley says

    My organizing tip isn't very revolutionary, but it is perfect for a lot of our previous organizing problems:
    I love those plastic shoe boxes. We have several of them filled with crayons, markers, flash cards, stickers, scissors and glue, etc. They are all labeled and stacked up on the bookcase in our homeschool room. The kids can easily find exactly what they need. And the lids are secure enough that my youngest toddler can't get into them.

  11. 247mama says

    I love 31 products and have 2 friends who sell them. This is exactly what I would use to organize my house if I had limitless funds.


  12. Nancy says

    Sorry I failed to leave my best home organizing tip. I don't know that I'm very creative compared to others. I do like to be organized and I like having carousels for crayons or colored pencils or scissors. I love learning new ways of organizing. Thanks!

  13. Anonymous says

  14. Caterina says

    I have recently used a Shoe organizer behind each door. That has helped with storing and finding a lot of small items that can add up when left around.

  15. Val says

    I try to put things I use everyday within 5 steps of WHERE I use it–getting the rest of the family to cooperate is another story! Great giveaway–we live in a rural area and I have never heard of 31 bags but WOW could I spend some $$. They are all great-

  16. Whitney Lowry says

    Those bags are so cute! I start school this summer with two kindergarteners and one preschooler. It would be great to have one for each of them.

  17. Jodi says

    My favorite home organizing tip comes from "The House that Cleans itself". The view from the doorway is the place the most important to keep cluttered free. If the thing a person first sees is clean, they will project that "cleanliness" on the rest of the room even if it is not. Crazy,eh? it works though.

  18. Pam says

    Love the idea of using that bag as a file system! My favorite organizing tip is to have the kids clean up their clutter several times a day (like before meals) so their toys don't overtake the whole house. It makes the house feel cleaner–even if I haven't had time to dust etc. :-)

  19. Kori says

    Hmm, I have trouble with organizing! But this year I have a crate for each big kid where all of their personal school items are. It sits on the floor by their chair – so their school books are always there when we need them! :-)

  20. Cassie says

    I love the idea with that bag! All in one place.

    I love the You Can Read and Ready2Read. I use both with my girls and just made some printables to go along with them!

  21. Cassie says

    Mine would be to keep it all in one place. I have a container that I put it on a table with. So that everything is easy to get at.

  22. Kathleen says

    Just saw that I needed to leave an organizing tip to enter besides my comment above. I color code my homeschool materials for myself, and my children. This helps us keep everyone's supplies in their proper place. And because we chose common colors we can often find bins, folders, binders, magnets, pencils, etc. in everyone's colors.

  23. Mandy says

    Love this idea! I have one of those bags and now I know what to do with it. My favorite homeschool organizing tip is just to make lists. I even gave my Kindergartener a list of what she needs to do and she loved check the boxes once something was complete.

  24. LambMama says

    Oh what a fantastic idea! I constantly struggle with organizing our school work and this would definitely work!

  25. jwdonnelly99 says

    I have two of these totes and keep one "at the ready" for ball season/ family activities and another is my work bag (I am a teacher). LOVE LOVE LOVE the pockets!

  26. Suzanne says

    I use lotsa tote bags (so now I'm drooling over Thirty-One's!) to keep various projects and responsibilities organized. One bag is for co-op — your plastic container tip is PHENOMENAL, Mo! One is for preschool church, one for my current crocheting project, several for library books, etc.

  27. Kim says

    9 cubby bookshelves. Each cubby is a different subject and holds all (or most all) of the books for that school year.

  28. Karun says

    I keep a lot of toys, game, and puzzles in storage tubs in my closet. The kids have to come a get a tub from me and have to the contents of the box to me when the are done playing. The kids appreciate their toys more, and their are less of them on the floor of their room.

  29. Suzanne Stem says

    Oh1 I love how you utilized the 31 tote. My organizing tip would be my 2 inch 3 ring school binder. It holds record sheets, child shot records, sometimes when I am really organized it will have our monthly menu. I have also been using dollar store containers for organizing extras around the home.

  30. Heather says

    I use plastic shoebox size bins for EVERYTHING! It helps to keep things organized and they stack neatly out of the way. An added bonus is since they are clear even my non-readers (and those who don't care to look at the label…lol) can tell what belongs where.

  31. Jennifer S says

    I have drooled over these for diaper bags, now one for home organizing would be great! can we say library trip?

  32. Becky says

    Oh I would so LOVE to win this!! I love this idea since I think the best way to keep our supplies for school up where the littlest one cannot storing them just like this!

  33. Becky says

    Sorry, home organizing tip… hmmm not sure I'm qualified to give any (as I look around my house). :) Um… keep kid plates and bowls where they can get to them it makes them more accountable for helping you when it is meal or snack time.

  34. say says

    I make file folder games and put them in zipper bags, then I hang them in the closet of the schoolroom from hangers used for pants.

  35. say says

    I would love the organizer tote. I'm constantly moving around the house with our school stuff. We get bored having school in the same place. I like to take it all to a park with us sometimes, too. This would be awesome.

  36. Kimberly says

    I so rarely enter drawings, but I really, really, (did I say really yet) want to win this one! I've been dreaming of just such a product. I have serious envy for your bag! Thank you for showing how you put it together!

  37. Anonymous says

    We have a family notebook where all our "family info" goes! Whenever I need any info I know we're to go. Now if I could just figure out how to organize my notebook! ��

  38. Joy says

    For toys, we have separate storage containers for smaller toy parts. I also love the 31 bags and use one to tote our bibles in to church, my daughter has one for her dance shoes and I have one for picnic supplies!

  39. TheMcD's says

    I love those bags! They are some of the best! I didn't think about using them to organize school stuff! That is great! I definitely need to get more.

  40. Category_Theo_Politician says

    I haven't read all the entries so forgive me if I repeat. My organizing tip is to have a nice, good size basket (bucket, bin)in practical places in every area of the house as catchers. Every time I go trough one room I put things in the basket and take whatever goes to the room Im going to at that moment. At the end of the day, if everything is not in its place, it is hidden in a nice place until we can take it to its final destination. My house is never clutter. I can not say the same about paper so the tote will be a great addition. Thanks for the chance

  41. The Hunters says

    Lately I've been seeing more and more 31 bags around, and they are SO cute! My best organizational idea is to turn your dining room into a school/play room. Make your kitchen table bigger or get a table with a leaf. Utilize the space you have and don't leave any rooms unused…especially if you have 4 or more kids and homeschool:)

  42. Anonymous says

  43. Sandy N says

    The way I keep organized… is to delegate! If I give everyone their lists, I have a reasonable chance some of it will get done lol!

  44. Colleen Kessler says

    I've been trying to keep as much as I can on the computer — and sync it to my phone. Streamlining… :)

  45. Lecia says

    I have this same bag, (although I love the new print) and I think I may do something like this for my daughters materials. It would look much nicer than the stack on the table.

  46. irbymd says

    I put all of my kids art supplies into a tote so that we have many options when they are wanting to use their creative side.

  47. Brielle says

    My best home organizing tip is to do a room each day. This helps to get each room done once a week and continuously stay on top of all the house work.

  48. Stephanie says

    My best organizing tip is to always use CLEAR bins or totes for storage! You can see everything you have and wont waste money buying something that was hiding in a coloured bin!

  49. Interactive Homeschooling says

    Those totes would come in handy. They look so roomy and stylish at the same time. I would love to have one!

  50. Interactive Homeschooling says

    Organizing in our home involves keeping related subject material in one place and supplies easily seen and accessible. We also create as many digital sources and get rid of unnecessary paper copies

  51. Mozer says

    That sounds like a great idea! No wonder my house is a mess–the first sight we see from our doorway is the laundry room–which is never clean. Hmmm… what to do about that….

  52. Kelly Linn says

    I have a garage sale every year and, throughout the year as I find things we are done with or have outgrown, I price it right then and stick it in a tote. Then, when spring comes, I just organize it all on tables and we are ready to go!!!

  53. Jessamyb says

    Best home organizing tip: Take care to put things away where they belong right away when you're finished using them. That way, they don't sit out waiting to go to their proper place, and cluttering up everything! I try to use this principle for my mail, kids toys, crafting items, laundry, etc.!

  54. Anonymous says

    I have a shelf rigth behind the table where I put the books they are using on order on Sunday. We have a nice 6 drawer desk that allows for all of them to have their own drawer I have them keep their workbooks in and I have the biggest drawers for the files I keep and the supplies they can get as needed. I keep the fast going stuff like extra erasers, pencils, and notebook paper (I think they must snack on them some days) in a separate area of a locked storage closet I keep locked so I can make sure I have the next levels where they need to be. I have 5 children and three are doing their schoolwork at the same time so I have to be more careful about supplies for now. After we get the next (3YO) into school this year we will have lots more fun here. LOL
    Brook ([email protected])

  55. Aprilcc says

    Best organizing tip: Never leave a room empty handed. When you are going to another part of your house, look around the room you are in and pick up something that needs put away in the part of the house you are headed to. You will keep you home picked up and organized and piles won't build up!

  56. Janice says

    My best organizing tip: Create routines. I joined 3.5yrs ago. I've always been a routine person, but she helped me create some new routines when I was changing new life cycles-moving, marriage, and parenthood all in a year and a half! I created a new routines to fit my new life and it really helps. The kids know what to expect, I know I can get household chores done, and we have flexibility for the constant changes kids bring.

  57. The girl who painted trees says

    My tip is just to have a place for everything and then make sure it gets returned there. I can't say I even follow my own rule though! I have issues with the organization of paper and things I print for homeschooling.

  58. Ashley says

    I organize days of the week that I am going to clean. Otherwise I get overwhelmed trying to keep the whole house clean. This way each room has a complete focus one day!


  59. Brianne says

  60. outback dreaming says

    Everything that happens in our house, sport, appointments, work commitments are in my diary. Then transferred each week to the whiteboard. So everyone can see who is where and what is happening.

  61. Linda says

    My best organizing tip came from a phrase I remember Don't put it down, put it away". I watch a 10mo. old and we have a new puppy so I found a shoe caddy/organizer at IKEA and now all the shoes are put away instead of thrown on the floor. With only 3 of us using it, each of us gets our own drawer. Perfectly organized and clean at the same time.

  62. DonnaJo says

    My organizing tip is re-purposing. Re-use what you have rather than spending money on organizing tools. Sometimes you can't avoid purchasing organizational tools, but if you are creative, there are tons of uses for baby food jars, coffee cans, wipes containers, etc.

  63. Jennifer Pittman says

    What a great idea! I really need to get organized. Depending on where I am when I decide to sit down to create the weekly lesson my son can find his stuff in my room, his room, the kitchen, or the living room! 😀

  64. Carter Clan says

    Thanks for the giveaway. I have been dying to get one of the organizing totes to help me organize my office away from home!

  65. Amy @ Raising Arrows says

    Right now, my favorite home organization tip are DrinkBands ( I LOVE those things!

  66. Ryan and Nicole says

    My best home organization tip right now would be labels. I have found it is so easy to keep things in order when everything has a place with a label.
    Thanks for the great giveaway!!

  67. mmeblue says

    There are a lot of great tips here! One thing we recently started is to have a designated bin for library books – that way (a) they don't get lost, and (b) we don't forget to read them!

  68. Karin Katherine says

    I'm really liking this tote to organize my blogging life and all the great ideas I have swimming around plus the nifty planner pages someone made. ; 0 )

  69. pinkdaisyjane says

    My kids' hs "stuff" is organized by color: bins, supply boxes and binders so that they know quickly which is theirs.

  70. Noey says

    I LOVE Thirty-One to organize my life. It's one of the reasons why I signed up to be a Consultant for them. Great products that really do WORK for your life. Wonderful giveaway.

  71. Codie Ray says

    Back packs. Use them when ever we go somewhere. This way all the work is together. No this isn't exactly home organizing but it is homeSCHOOL organizing.

  72. September says

    I keep two Aldi's banana boxes (large, sturdy cardboard boxes with handles)in my laundry room. One for items to take to Goodwill, the other for items to take to the resale shop. As I run across items to take to either of these places, I put them in the boxes. This helps to keep clutter under control

  73. Amy says

    I am always lugging curriculum from the school room to the dining room table, to the car, etc, This would b a huge help!

  74. Amy says

    My best home organizing tip is to never go up or down the stairs empty handed. I always make sure I am taking something that belongs in another room with me to put away. It makes it easier to return things to their proper home and eliminates clutter.

  75. MJ says

    We set up a drawer system – each drawer contains a different topic. That along with a daily learning goal (which I fill out for a week at a time), our soon-to-be 12 year old is able to find the books and resources that he needs for each subject without me having to be there all the time.

    I use each minute in the house as wisely as possible. If it something doesn't belong in the room it is in or it is out of place, I try to put it back as I go through the house throughout the day. Then at the end of the day the house is not so disorganized!

  76. Anonymous says

    Calendars are my best way to stay organized. As for things in the house, we hold on to nothing for too long, emits the clutter.

  77. Jen says

    My best tip is go thru it often! I have a couple places where junk accumulates and by going thru and sorting it often it doesn't get out of control. Stuff I want to keep and not deal with yet has it's own place as well!

    I also have a cheap container similar to your clear plastic one that all the school books go in, wonderful for organizing.

    I also picked up a 4 stacker (often used on desks for paper….) and use it for organizing pads of paper, coloring books and the like for the kids, so when they pull one thing off they don't pull off the whole stack of coloring books!

  78. Lori says

    Ooh, I've been dying to learn more about 31 and this bag would be awesome for my homeschool orgainzation! My best tip is to spend the time at the start of the week to thoughtfully prepare daily schedules, lessons and a meal plan. I've found that it's helped me avoid a lot of stress and the more prepared I am the less short I get with my precious kids. :)

    Thanks, and fingers crossed!

  79. Sally says

    My best tip…….For me, I tend to work on getting a time-saving idea ready. hours of working on this thing. And then it works all of three days. So when I have an idea, I just sort of rag-tag it in the beginning, and if it involves, it likely has the Ugly in full effect. But! If it seems to get my heiny in gear, THEN I can step it up and purdy it up right nice! And it works for me!

  80. Jennifer says

    My daughter has had her eye on my organizing utility tote ever since I brought it home . . . to organize her school stuff! I'd love to win her one of her very own.

  81. Us says

    My best tip is to make sure the kids know where their things belong. It makes it so much easier for them to find what they need and takes pressure off of me since they are able to find/clean up their things on their own.

  82. HillaryM says

    We keep library book in two canvas "boxes". One has free reading and the other has specific-to-studies titles. It doesn't completely eliminate the lost books, but has cut them back dramatically (none so far this year!). I'd love to win one of these. I've seen so many clever uses.

  83. Wendi says

    I have to agree with a previous comment that the best tip I could give is to put everything away right away and to have a place for everything to go.

  84. Jen G says

    My best organizational tip is to keep a home organization binder. I keep almost everything {papers} in mine…meal plans, grades, and financial information. That's the first place I place I look when I'm looking for a paper or form that I think I've misplaced…often that's where it is. =)

  85. Auntie Ish says

    Best tip is to put things away as you are finished with them. And I keep lists to check things off as I finish them.

  86. Cassandra says

    Crock Pot Meals during the week cut back on stress for during week dinners with all prep done the night before.

    Also with my 5 year old she cleans up her stuff as soon as she's done.

  87. Debbie says

    My best organizational tip for homeschool is using the workbox system and printing/copying anything we will need a week in advance and putting the papers in a pocket chart, labelled Monday-Friday for each child. It's a lot of work over the weekend, but it makes the school week flow so easily. For household stuff, I'm still in the process of getting organized, but I like labelled tubs, especially for the kids' stuff so they know where everything goes.

  88. CrazyMomof4 says

    Best home organizing tip came from my mom — when you have a BIG organizing project that you just can't seem to tackle, set a timer for 15 minutes and just start. Do that 1-4 times a day and then move on. Before you know it the project will seem more manageable and you will be done.

  89. Joyce says

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

    I love to use clip boards for organizing. Each kid has one for their weekly assignments, worksheets, chores etc. They hang in our classroom to keep everyone on track. I have one too. It has weekly assignments, answer keys for easy grading, menu plan, lists and "to dos", etc. on it. Makes things so much easier!

  90. Daniele @ Domestic Serenity says

    My favorite organizing tip is to use baskets – one for each of the kids to keep books in, small ones for markers or pencils, etc. Easy to carry around and a nice look if you homeschool in a more open space of your home. We love them!

  91. Esther Roswell says

    My favorite organizing tip is to tidy up a room while you talk on the phone. I called my sister to catch up and the 30 mins I was on the phone I was able to organzied my pantry! Double duty!

  92. Courtney Warner says

  93. jodie_velour says

    i love this idea. i have only one question… what size clear top file box did you use? the container store has 3 sizes… did you use medium or large?? please email me with your response. jydardeau at yahoo dot com thanks!

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