Using Student Numbers to Keep Organized

I know this is not a new idea, and that many of you may do this already, but it was always such an integral part of my day, I wanted to share and hopefully gain even more ideas from you!

One of the best tips my teammate gave me once upon a time when I first started teaching was to assign a number to each student. From there, the ways to stay organized are endless!


I always organized my students from 1-20-something by their last name. This made it easy to take attendance for me as well as a sub since that was the order the district assigned them. They were given this number on the very first day of class and carried it with them all year.

One of our first tasks at the beginning of the year was to memorize our student number, along with who was before and after you. We did this a variety of ways the first week to mix it up and ensure that, by the end of the week, their number was memorized.

Lining Up in Number Order

One of my favorite go-to's was to have them practice lining up silently using only their gestures to help them. Then, I would say "Roll Call!" aloud and my #1 student would say "1" and the person behind them would call their number (hopefully 2!) and so on down the row. If there was any kiddo in the wrong spot, it was easily fixed and we would practice again at the next transition time.

I had them practice number order each and every time we lined up to go anywhere those first few weeks. This helped them with memorizing their numbers and also took out a lot of the line spot troubles that often arise the first few weeks of school when I was trying to build community more than anything else. We would practice "Roll Call!" before we left the room and if everything was a-ok, we could leave the class and head down the hallway to our destination.

After recess, our kids always line up and I had them do number order there as well-- pretty much anytime they needed to line up, I would have them do it in number order-- and this also alleviated the problem of "firsties" and the race to the door (with subsequent "winners" and "losers"-- not how I want to start class time after recess!).

My sweet kids in the back of the line were not forgotten, since I would choose certain days to be "Reverse Number Order" or "Reverse Roll Call!", thus allowing them to lead the line and mix it up a bit after we had the order down :)

Fire Drills & Field Trips

Staying organized during these two stressful times is key to make sure there are no missing students and you can get a quick head count as soon as possible at any given time.

Because we had practiced it so much at the beginning of the year and throughout our day, I could simply say, "Roll Call!" and have my kids start to call their number aloud. It was easy to hear who was missing (if any) and because the kids had also memorized who was before and after them, they could help in case there was a sub present who hadn't memorized the order like I had.

I always had my kids line up in number order once we had gotten to the field during a fire drill, which again was an automatic thing since that's how we usually lined up, and the only difference was that my Line Leader (from Classroom Jobs HERE) would go to their regular spot and not be the head of the line during the drill.

On Field Trips, it was a quick and easy way to make sure all kids were on the bus. It always impressed the bus driver to hear kids yell their numbers from various parts of the bus. Plus, in about a minute, we were done and ready to roll! Of course, I had memorized the order of my kids to make sure the right ones were saying the right number and always had a list with me to run down as they called to double-check, but this was much quicker and student-led than the traditional "Here!" that I had done when I was a student.

Collecting Papers

Probably the greatest way to keep all of those papers organized was to have students write their numbers next to their names on every thing they worked on, whether they turned it in to me or not. This helped them remember to write it on everything :)

When students turned in something, I checked off their names and kept it organized in number order. It became very easy to see which numbers were missing so I could easily track down a student for missing assignments. Plus, it made filing a breeze!! I would create my class list in Word and put as many as I could on a page (usually three), then run lots of copies, cut them into thirds, and keep these slips handy throughout the year.

I kept a small stack in our Substitute folder and in our class' emergency backpack that we were required to take outside during recesses and fire drills. I could also hand these lists out to parents for Valentine's Day and/or birthday parties, so they came in handy a lot!

Around the Classroom

Student Numbers popped up everywhere in our classroom. Here are just a few examples:

I got these magnets from Etsy (or you could easily make your own) and you can read more about Class Jobs HERE.
Above their bin spots so they always put them back in the correct space. Plus, I could reuse these every year! Read more HERE about these numbers.
I also use numbers when labeling classroom supplies that would be used year after year. For example, on our classroom calculators, I used silver Sharpie (by far my most favorite in the world!) to put a number on both the calculator and the lid. Then, each year the student with that number used that calculator. Easy to keep track of and easy to know who is using the correctly.... or not!

I am sure there are *hundreds* of other ways to use student numbers in your classroom. Please share your ways below and we can keep this list growing!

Happy Friday!



9 comments

  1. Love student numbers! The only thing I do differently is that the line leader changes every day. So, the first day #1 is in front. The second day it is #2. We line up every time we leave our room or our special classes in that order to avoid all the pushing to be first. And I never even have to think about it...they even remembered whose turn it was after spring break!

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    1. I love that! Systems that keep kids responsible take such a HUGE weight off of my shoulders! Plus it helps on days when I haven't had enough coffee ;) Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. Student numbers have definitely made my life easier! Having the students line up independently at a fire drill is probably the best use of numbers in my classroom. By the time I get to them, they are all in order and it takes mere seconds to figure out if someone is missing.

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

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    1. Isn't it?! Fire drills stress me out to no end- I always picture Kindergarten Cop and his first fire drill :) :) This takes all of the stress out and makes me feel like I'm somewhat ahead of the game! Thanks so much for stopping by to share!

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  3. I use them too. I use them in "homework club" as well as book boxes. I love your new ideas here!!
    Julie

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    1. Thanks so much, Julie! I never realized how much we use them, but the best part is that the things you number can be reused year after year, which is a summer lifesaver! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing- have a great weekend :)

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  4. This is great! I assign my students numbers also. I print them on my equity sticks and I also call students to line up by their numbers but they have to solve a math equation or problem based on a student number. Thanks for the other ideas!

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    1. Yes! Totally forgot about pulling numbers for lining up, answering questions, and such! Thanks for the reminder- it's amazing how often these numbers come up :) :) Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I use numbers in my classroom too and I love the various ways they can be used for organization and management. My favorite is the hanging file folder organizer I use to have them turn in homework and classwork by number. I can quickly glance at the wall and see who didn't turn in their work without having to sort through a pile of papers. My question is, how do you handle when a student moves or you get a new student in your class? I always tack them on to the end, but the OCD part of my doesn't like that they aren't in alphabetical order then!

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Thank you so much for your comments! :)
~Stephanie

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