Monday, June 10, 2013

Classroom Set-Up {then & now}

I was reading a post from Erica Boher and had to laugh out loud at a comment one of her pictures got on Pinterest.  The pinner said "Perfect 1st grade classroom.  How can she afford this?!"  I'm wondering if that was a first year teacher looking for inspiration who instead got frustrated by all of the overwhelming amazingness you all share.

But really, we've all been there, haven't we?!  My first classroom was a trailer {excuse me, cottage} and with the $0 I had to my name, I thought I was killin it with a few bulletin board sets from the teacher store!  Fast forward 9 years plus experience, time to add to my collection and the introduction of Pinterest & teaching blogs to my life and I set up my favorite classroom ever this past year.  Now I'm moving classrooms again and it's back to the Pinterest boards for ideas.

Whether you like a trip down memory lane or you just need some inspiration that you, too, can have the classroom of your dreams, pull out those old photos and link up below!

{1st year: 2004-2005}
{my first classroom was a trailer!}
{my 1st sophomores in high school!}
{the ONLY decoration I had was my calendar set.  corner 1 had all the color.}
{corner 2 held library carts & stacked bookshelves for cute baskets?!}
{more carts & random tubs sitting around for storage.  plus coats & backpacks in corner 3.}
{my desk & more coats for corner 4}
Ta-da!  Totally nothing special.  I laugh looking at these now, seeing how bare and empty it looks.  I remember buying window markers to write encouraging messages on the teeny tiny windows to try and bring in some color.  But if I didn't have student work on the wall, it was just boring nothing!  Luckily we spent a lot of time on the carpet and I'm pretty sure they all still had a great year.  :)

{9th year: 2012-2013}
{view from the front door}
{view from my teacher table}
{student cubbies - I will miss these next year!!}
{student book bins on top.  morning work, science journals & math workbook on bottom.}
{guided reading/small group area}
{listening center & library}
{student mailboxes & leveled library bookshelf}
{weekly copies, workshop rotations & calendar}
{workshop centers & groupings that rotate daily}
{word wall, fun center tubs & computer table}
{very cluttered writing center}
What I love the most about my classroom growth {besides the obvious need for color} is how I've learned to teach & set-up with learning areas.  It's so good for the kids to be able to write in the writing center, or read in the library or work on sight words from the word wall as opposed to doing everything at their desks.  It really helps them focus on the task they're meant to be doing and it challenges me as a teacher to rotate things through those areas to keep them fresh.

{Another tip - if you're lucky enough to have any "fun center" time with blocks, legos, etc - keep those areas separate from your main learning stations to keep clear boundaries of what happens where.  My students can read anywhere during independent reading time to allow them to spread out but when it's time to play with blocks, they stay on the block carpet.}

If you can't find pictures of your very first year or you've been out of the classroom for a while and don't have a current room to show, it's ok!  Just choose 2 classrooms to post and tell us the dates.  Post one, post a ton...up to you.  And by ALL MEANS do not think your classroom has to be award winning in order to share.  There's no make-over prize for the winner but hopefully everyone will find some new ideas!  :)

Who cares that it's the end of the year...aren't we always thinking ahead to what we can do differently in the fall??  {be honest ladies.  don't let me be alone in my admission of over-planning here!}


  1. My first classroom was also in a trailer. I still wonder how all of my kinders fit in there!

    Lovin’ Kindergarten

  2. I'm obsessed with the bunting over your windows and have just added it to my summer to-do list! Adorable!
    Short and Sassy Teacher

    1. Thanks Erin! I'll post the tutorial so you can see how I did it & what I learned along the way. Pretty simple! :)

    2. Awesome! Thanks!

  3. I love your classroom! It is amazing how inspiring Pinterest and blogs can be. I am always trying to do better!

    1. Teacher's never just right, is it?! ;)

  4. LOve this!!! Your classroom is so cute!!

  5. I am sure that "cottage" classroom held many great memories for you and your students. I love the advice you give about setting up your classroom. Practical but useful advice.

  6. So now you've inspired me to create a writing wall like yours. Where did you find the little lists of words: the color words, number words, etc. that are at the bottom of the yellow writing wall?

    1. Thanks Katie! That's not my favorite set-up of that board but it was the best one I had. I like to change this out based on the month, what we're studying, etc. I also like to change out the kids' work samples as anchor charts...that way they can see their peers' work as examples instead of always seeing mine or printed examples.

      I have a whole writing board that has every fun find I use in that center! :)

  7. Thank you thank you! I have been repining from your Pinterest board already! I have my word wall over my writing center, but I like for my kids to have writing resources all around the room for when they are doing a write the room activity and for writing time. We are switching phonics programs so now I have a big empty space to fill up...both with resources and my students' work.

  8. I love seeing your adorable classroom!! Thanks for posting pics! I teach half day kindergarten and have two questions:

    -How did you make those cute polka dot stools by your guided reading table? I love them!!
    -What do you have your students do for morning work? I've always wanted to have my students do some sort of morning work, but struggle to come up with good ideas that they can do independently...

    Thanks Kristin!

  9. Anonymous7:46 PM

    It is funny to see how our classrooms have evolved over the years!

  10. Fun linky party! I plan to join in as soon as I can get into my room to set it up! Love your blog, too!
    I am a new follower. :)
    Preschool Wonders


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