That summer, I decided that I needed picture labels. I decided to use real pictures instead of clip art so that the picture looked exactly like my instruments. Many of the images were found on West Music. If I could not find the specific picture of my instrument I used a Google image search. Since then, our school has been renovated and I no longer have skinny student lockers to store my instruments. I have nice, deep, wooden cabinets. They are fabulous! Below you can see a few picture of the outside of my cabinets.
Here is a close-up of two section of cabinets that I use the most. They contain mostly unpitched percussion. The labels are placed in front of where the instrument actually belongs.
The top row is lacking some labels (that is on my summer to-do list). The second shelf also has one miscellaneous drawer with a ratchet, vibraslap, flexatone, slapstick, etc. I need to make smaller labels for this drawer as well. Students are always asking me where those instruments go. However, most of the students have no trouble being self-sufficient during clean-up time. I always ask one instrument group at a time to go put their instruments away so they are not so crowded. Other than calling the next groups, I have to do very little monitoring of instrument clean-up. I can spend my time recording discipline issues in my grade book and preparing myself for next class.
Also note: in order for your students to be self-sufficient in instrument clean-up, they must be able to reach the instruments. I have placed most of the basic percussion instruments used with Kindergarten and 1st grade on the lowest shelves. The more obscure percussion instruments that are used less often are placed on the higher shelves because they are used mainly with older, taller intermediate students. (I learned this mistake the hard way. My first year teaching I placed the Lollipop drums on the top shelf of the lockers. After several months helping kindergartners reach the top shelf, I finally had my "ah-ha" moment!)
More details and pictures showing the inside of the left cabinet can be found on a previous post regarding Boomwhacker storage.
As I have already stated, these labels allow for students to be self-sufficient and we have a quicker clean-up time. Also, the picture labels on the front of the cabinets are nice visuals when students are given freedom to be creative during a lesson like brainstorming sound effects to accompany a story.
So that you do not have to reinvent the wheel, I am sharing my files! Now you may quickly print most of the instruments labels you may need. If you have instruments that I do not have labels for, you can do a Google image search and copy/paste into a word document.
***Please note, I do think it is important to print in color, if possible. The color helps the students identify and locate an instrument more quickly. I also laminated my labels so that I could move them to a different location without ripping them if I got the urge to rearrange the storage. My first set of labels lasted about 3 years before the edges of many labels started to curl up where kids had brushed against the lockers during movement activities. When I got my new wooden cabinets 3 years ago, I decided to print new labels. (It would be a sin to put those old curled up labels on these beautiful wooden cabinets!) Instead of throwing my old labels away, they became the inside labels for the storage boxes and bins.