Quick and Easy Color Coding Hack for the Classroom

While so much of the next school year is still up in the air, the control freak in me is wanting some normalcy. I like to work on a few projects casually over the summer so that by the time schools starts, I'm not as overwhelmed. Plus, by doing things in small chunks, I can still relax over break.

Today's project involved some school supplies and a whole lot of colored washi tape! This #teachertip will help you manage materials and organize all in one. Plus, your students will help take care of their own messes!

* This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a few cents if you decide to buy something, at no extra cost to you. I pinky promise to only share links to items that are teacher wallet friendly and my real favorites!

Why washi tape?

As someone who has been voted the most organized at my school, color coding is my jam! After finding myself with a large collection of pretty tape, I decided to use it in my classroom. 

Quick and Easy Color Coding Hack for the Classroom

I'm lucky enough to be in a school where every child has access to a device so I needed a way to hold kids accountable in case something broke, or wasn't put away. I started by having each of my students pick their own color and then I labeled their computers, charging cords, and headphones with it. They loved their tape so much they wanted to label everything with it, including their pencils and dry erase markers!

Color Coding Classroom Computers for Management

While I always have backup community supplies in my classroom, I like to make sure each of my students have what they need in their own desk. This upcoming year I feel like it will be more important than ever to limit shared supplies and avoid cross contamination the best that I can. 

This summer I am creating my bags in advance with 24 different colors of tape, and plan to let each student pick their favorite when we start school. I use the tape on the front of each zipper pencil pouch and wrapped around their highlighter, dry erase marker, and gluestick. If anything gets misplaced or left around the classroom, we can quickly return it to the right person. Even before my little ones can recognize each other's names in writing, they CAN remember who picked each pattern!


Since I promised to only share teacher friendly deals and my real favorites, I am including links to some of the materials for your shopping convenience. I recommend waiting until back to school sales for crayons, dry erase markers, highlighters, etc. 
  • Scissors, crayons, gluesticks, dry erase markers, highlighters, and erasers for each child
    • I have separate pencil boxes for each child, but you can put their pencils in the pouches if you prefer.
    • I do put 1 red lead pencil in their pouch, to use for punctuation and capitalization when writing. I wrap these with the tape because they cost more than regular pencils and I have a very limited supply. 
  • 1 Zipper pencil pouch/child 
    • You can of course use a plastic pencil box, I just prefer the zipper pouch with little ones to limit dropped boxes and spills.
  • Decorative colored tape, or washi tape (1 design/color per student)

Teacher Tips:

  • While I do label each child's bag and some materials inside, I don't recommend taping their pencils. Although it looked cute and sounded like a good idea at the time, labeling their pencils last year ended up being a sticky mess.
  • Depending on the company of the tape that you buy, you might want to place a piece of clear tape over the top of it to help it stick better. 
  • I put a blank card stock name tag (from one of my classroom decor lines) in the front of each bag. This will help me label them with names in August as each child picks their color and learns it. 
  • While we eventually memorize everyone's tape pattern, I do create a master list with a scrap piece of each color and every child's name. I hang one copy inside of our computer cart to help with putting everything away, and another copy on my teacher clipboard for easy access. 
  • I typically have about 20 students in my class. I am creating 24 bags so my kids have more choice in patterns, and also so I have some prepared in advance for new students. 
  • Use the tape for whatever else you want to help students find. For example, I keep their math textbooks on a shelf rather than in their desks. Instead of flipping each cover to read names, I plan to put a piece of tape on the spines.
  • Over the summer, I use giant Ziploc bags to store all of my school supplies and any light weight materials I bring home to work on. I love that I can just fold them up in August and reuse them next year. Plus, I don't have to carry or store giant boxes for packing up!

Do you use any kind of color coding in your classroom or have tips for washi tape?

Shop for supplies for your own classroom, or pin this post for later :)


quick and easy color coding hack for the classroom


  1. These are great! Will these be used only in the classroom or will they be able to take them home?

    1. Hello! I plan to keep these just in the classroom to avoid home/school germ sharing. I am working on putting together some "at home" supply bags to have as backup for families who need them for remote learning, just in case. I am also encouraging families to keep any school supplies they buy this year at home since it looks like I will begin in the year in a blended model.

  2. Where did you find your nice light blue pencil pouches? I see the ones you posted from Amazon, did you just use the assorted colors?

    1. The light blue ones are currently at Walmart and I think you can order them for pickup if you search for binder pouches. They are on sale for the back to school season, but can be pricey depending on the time of year you try to find them.