Best of WeAreTeachers HELPLINE: Managing a School Lost & Found

Because “Finders Keepers” is NOT a real solution!

Managing a Lost & Found

We don’t know how some kids manage to lose a single sock, or why no one seems to be able to hold onto a complete pair of mittens. But it’s a fact of school life—random items pile up in the lost & found collection. You’ll have better luck getting these items back to their owners if you give a little to thought to how your school is managing its lost & found. The members of our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE shared what works for them.

Pick a time and place.

The best school lost and found systems have a specific location, and are available at times that are convenient for both parents and kids.

  • Our school has a hanging rack that lives in the lunch room. —Jennifer A.
  • We put them out on a rack during parent-teacher conferences. —Joanna E.
  • Ours hang up outside the lunchroom so kids see them as they go by after lunch. We also have a morning assembly each day, so we occasionally lay them out on the stage or have student council kids do a “fashion show” with items. —Stephanie S.
  • Our lost and found is in the nurses office in a bin. Kids can go in there if they lost something. —Michelle G.
  • My district would place all the lost and find items out on tables in the main hallways towards the end of the school year. —Cristen F.
  • At the end of every quarter, we would set up all of the items on tables in cafeteria, and during drop off, pick-up parents could look through and each class had to walk through. —Sarah Y.

Lost and Found by Pretty Handy Girl

(Get the plans: Pretty Handy Girl)

Sort and organize.

People are unlikely to dig through a giant box looking for one item. Try a better organizational system, but keep it simple.

  • We had a free standing open-front closet built specifically for lost and found. That’s where everything gets hung up. Students walk past it every time they go to the gym. —Dawn L-M.
  • Our older students go through the items once a month to see if any of it has a name on it and return to its owner. —Jennifer A.
  • We have a cork strip in the hallway. We hang them with tacks by their tags on the strip. —Stephanie E.

Lost and Found Pinterest

(Photo Credit: RoomTagz™ and AnnDee Nimmer via Pinterest)

Set a time limit.


You can’t keep that stuff around forever. Just be sure to let everyone know just how much time they have to claim their belongings, then donate them to a good cause.

  • Anything that is left once Christmas, spring break, or summer holidays start gets donated. —Dawn L-M.
  • At the end of 1st semester, we put them all out on a table. If no one collects, we donate what’s left. —Louise A.
  • Every few weeks we announce that they are being donated if they are not picked up by Friday. Then we donate them. —Christine L.
  • Every so often, we donate to our PTA Clothing Bank, but we let parents know first. —Stephanie S.
  • Any clothing not claimed after so long becomes part of the nurse’s stash. -Michelle G.
  • All leftovers are washed and donated. —Linda W.

What are your ideas for managing your lost & found? Come share in our Facebook group WeAreTeachers Chat.

Also, check out these teacher organization hacks

Best of WeAreTeachers HELPLINE: Managing a School Lost & Found