Managing Water Bottles in the Classroom

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As a Kindergarten teacher, there are so many things that I have learned over the years. Looking at the title of this post, you may be thinking, “Really, water bottles need an entire blog post??” Yes, yes, they do. Learn from me and the beginning years of the great water battle that I experienced in my first years of teaching. I am here to share with you how I manage water bottles in the classroom and why it works!

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Check out my top tips and tricks for managing water bottles in the classroom and why they work!

Managing Water Bottles in the Classroom

If you are a teacher you probably know what I am talking about. I am talking about the water fountain lines after recess that are 18 miles long with the horrible chants like “1, 2, 3, that’s enough for me.” If you use this chant to take turns at the water fountain, sorry to offend… but I still remember when that chant was used on ME in elementary school, and I was still thirsty. So I can only imagine that sometimes my kindergartners are still thirsty too! (When you have just been running outside, is 3 seconds enough for you? Not that I run. Ever. But I know I would still be thirsty.) Plus, water fountains kind of gross me out. Just sayin’.

Then there is the bring your water bottle from home, which I like, however, when the same bottle gets left at school for 8 weeks and no one is claiming it, I don’t like it anymore.

Plus, I don’t have desks to store water bottles on in the classroom, or assigned table spots to put the bottles on the table groups. I certainly don’t want kids back and forth at their backpacks all day, so I knew I had to come up with something.

So… I introduce the water bins! Lifesavers, I tell you. Getting a drink of water in my classroom has never been easier and more time efficient! These work best for me because I do not have assigned seating in my room at all. These could also work for you if you have assigned desks or have table groups to place them on.

I bought 6 matching bins from the dollar store, and they have held up very well. Then I put a big label on the front (animal print for me because it matches my room!).

For the water bottles, I bought matching bins and added labels to the front for student names.

Next, I purchased a big pack of recyclable water bottles (these happened to be from Costco). You can also ask parents to donate – they are usually very willing to help if they can.

I have also had students bring their own bottles from home before, which is less wasteful than using plastic. However, it didn’t work as well for me because they would often forget to take them home to wash. Then I had to become the water bottle police and manage if they were cleaned, etc. Then they would forget them at home, be thirsty (and we have no water fountain in my classroom, which is a portable, so…) you get the picture. It just didn’t work for me!

I find that purchasing water bottles that we can recycle works the best in my room – I replace them every so often, and when it is time for a new one, we can practice recycling OR wash and use our old bottles for a project (if they aren’t too crinkly!). Plus, we can wash and save the caps. Those are always fun to reuse.

I buy giant packs of recyclable water bottles for students to drink and refill.

I label each water bottle with a student’s name using a sharpie. I ALSO label the bin with students’ names. That way, they know exactly where to find their water bottle.

I used to just have them put their bottles in a bin… any bin… never again – so much wandering and confusion! Now they know exactly where to store their bottle.

To address any germ questions… I place them 4 to a bin so that they aren’t crammed. This means that the tops of the bottles where their little mouths go never touch the other bottles! Plus, I still think it is way cleaner than a drinking fountain. Have you seen a kindergartner slurp on one of those? Trust me, it isn’t pretty.

Here is a picture of two of the bins with the water bottles in them. The black rectangles aren’t really there, I just put them over the student names in the picture for privacy reasons.

The labels on the front of the bins show students which bin to store their water bottle in.

Now, one more VERY important thing that I also learned the hard way – do not put all of your bins in one area! You will have traffic jams after recess, trust me. I place my bins in random areas of the room. One on the back counter, 2 by the front sink, etc.

I have a lot of sinks in my room because it is a portable. The pictures below are actually of different areas in the room. Excuse the mess… we did a paint project. Just keepin’ it real for you – my counters don’t stay clear all the time in Kindergarten and my classroom is not always “Pinterest-Perfect.”

We keep 4 water bottles in each bin so they are not too cramped.

When students come in from recess, no more waiting in line at the water fountain. No more crowding around backpacks to dig out water bottles. They know exactly where their bin is. They walk right to it, get a drink, and then go about their business.

I honestly have not had any trouble with this system as far as drinking or filling water at inappropriate times. Students know that water bottle filling happens at snack and recess and that is plenty. They also know they are allowed to get a drink during a transition if they need to, and during a work period if it is really necessary. It really is about building up that trust with them and giving them the responsibility to self-manage.

The students can clearly see their names on the front label and neatly put their water bottles back in the bin.

Well, there you have it – how I manage water in a simple way that allows kids not to be thirsty and allows me to focus on things besides monitoring drinks! I hope you enjoyed this course of “Water Bottles in the Classroom 101.”

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Managing Water Bottles in the Classroom


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