I did some work in my classroom this summer because, let's be honest, there is a lot of pressure out there to have an adorable, perfect, Pinterest ready classroom. After seeing all the gorgeous classrooms on Pinterest and Instagram, I was feeling a bit embarrassed about mine. I teach in a VERY old building. I have been in this classroom for over 12 years. I am STILL throwing out things left from previous teachers. So, before I tell you about my favorite spaces in my room, lets get a little perspective...
This is what my classroom looked like the day I walked in to get it ready for school. The "deep cleaning" had been done. Which really means that the carpets and rugs were shampooed, the tops of the shelves, and the windows were cleaned. That's it. There were still cobwebs. There was still dust in all the shelves, and the old tattered boxes for storage were looking a bit sad.
It's funny because the one compliment I get from parents more than any other is that I am very organized. But, I don't think you would have known it by looking at my classroom. It didn't scream organized. It screamed old and tattered, but she can find everything quickly. It needed some love and attention. I had a teacher desk that collected piles. Something had to be done...
So, I did a "deep cleaning" of my own. I was really hoping I could reduce the paper storage in my room to the point where I could get rid of the huge metal filing cabinet. It takes up so much space and there really isn't a natural spot for it in the room. I filled three huge recycle cans with old worksheets, thematic printables, outdated workbooks, and other stuff that just didn't need to be there. I ended up keeping the file cabinet. But I emptied two others that I was able to use in my...
Maker Space!!! I am really excited about this new addition to my classroom. It is in the space where my old teacher desk used to be. I think it was a good trade. My sweet hubby installed the shelf that all the bins are sitting on. The drawers in the old file cabinets are for cardboard, plastic, paper, and odds & ends. The space isn't finished in this photo. I still need two small containers for trash and recycle below the maker space sign. I also need to finish filling the bins. I have tape, yarn, straws, craft sticks, and paper shapes in there. I will be adding more and just need an afternoon where I can go though all my craft supplies to find goodies for STEAM. This space is meant to be an open ended creative building space using easy to acquire recyclables and craft materials. I am hoping to fund this with the donations I get from parents for classroom supplies along with donations of "stuff". I will keep you posted on how this is going. It will be an adventure and I KNOW management will be the key to its success.
You can see the big file cabinet in the corner of this photo. It is tucked away behind my calendar divider in the classroom. I made these cute shape posters because I like to have these up all year as a reference. I wanted them to go with any color scheme in the future, so they are really simple. If you want them for you classroom, you can grab them right here: Shape Posters
This is the new big book cart my sweet husband made for me. It has wheels on the bottom, but two of them lock so it's safe for kiddos. This is tucked between the big file cabinet and shelving that holds guided reading books right below the shapes bulletin board. It is part of the "reading space" in my classroom. Kids are allowed to read big books every day as a choice in my room. More on the reading space later...
These colors posters are an essential reference in the classroom. I wanted these to be simple as well. I want them to work in any classroom with any decor or theme. You can find them right here: Color Posters. I actually improved them for my TpT store, so those are even better.
The color bulletin board is on the other side of my classroom across from the shapes bulletin board. This is part of a counter where my printer and colored copy paper live. The white drawers next to it hold craft supplies. My laptop sits on top of there most days charging when I am not using it. So far, the classroom space is working just fine without a teacher desk. I have gone back and forth on having a desk and not having one. I am glad to be back to NOT having a teacher desk. My classroom is small, so I really want every inch devoted to kid space. When I need to work or plan in the classroom, I just spread out on the big back table right next to this area. It works well and then I don't have a flat surface (my old desk) collecting piles. It forces me to keep only the essential documents and get rid of the other paper that comes in the classroom.
OK, so I LOVE my new orange clock. It replaced the old original clock that was wired into some whole school clock system that had NEVER worked. I had covered it with this old funky papier mache rainbow smiley face that I made in an art for teachers class when I was getting my credential. It was old and dusty and it just had to go. This is such a major improvement! This was another little project handled by my sweet husband. He even picked out the clock. Makes me happy to look at it.
Since I was going through everything, it was time to get my organization looking more uniform. I really needed to use available resources, because I didn't want to spend too much money. These were containers I already had just sitting around. The tops on them were trashed, but the tubs were still good. They are my new reading book containers. I made labels for EVERYTHING like this so it all looks uniform. I don't have matching containers in a color scheme all over my classroom. I just try to make choices that are neutral so it all "goes".
This is my favorite place in the room. I expanded my library and reading space by removing some furniture and enough "stuff" to not need it. I also got rid of books. I know that sounds awful. But I needed the space! I am lucky to have so many books in my room that I get to insist on having ONLY quality literature in the classroom. I said goodbye to Clifford, Franklin, Disney and other cartoon related books. Books that were falling apart had to go. One of my criteria for keeping books was if it had won an award like the Caldecott Medal. Those made the cut. It took me half a day to go through all the books. I did it quickly and was ruthless. I still have tons of books! These don't include the shelves of all my thematic books that I store separately out of reach from little hands. We are truly blessed. Books are EVERYWHERE!!!
Since that is the case, we needed a more comfortable place for reading. This is a choice after academics every day in my classroom. How cute are those marquee letters? I just had to get some after seeing them in other teachers' rooms on Instagram. The white dish washing tubs work great for book storage. This space is being used just as I hoped it would. I saw three sweeties on the cushions with a big book across their laps. Adorable! I am so glad my sweet students have a comfy, cozy space to enjoy books. The kiddos love it when the lights are on too! Yay!
This is what it looked like the day before school started. I know it's not really Pinterest worthy, but it is a significant improvement. It's the best I can do right now with the resources I have available. I wish so much that I could get new tables and chairs... not happening. I wish I could replace every storage container in my room so they are all color coordinated. I just didn't have the time or money to take it that far. The classroom is more open than it used to be, it has spaces that are functional and "kid centered", and it is tidy and organized to start the year. Now we just have to keep it that way.
So, that's it... just a few highlights from my classroom this year. We are off to a good start. Hope you are already having or about to begin your #bestyearever in your #bestclassroomever!