Tag Archives: classroom setup

Fast and Easy DIY Class Organization Ideas

The new school year is here, and teachers everywhere are trying to gear-up for the long haul.  Every fresh, new start, we hope to create space that will inspire the little minds we teach.

Organizing a classroom used by, at the very least, 20 students and keeping it running smoothly without having it look like a tornado hit is no ordinary feat.  Sometimes incorporating just quick, little ideas can make quite the difference.  Here are a couple DIYs that are easy and inexpensive to make.

Lost Things

Creating a designated space for all the “lost things” found on the floor can be quite a time saver in a busy classroom.  Blogger Leslie, of kindergartworks.com shares a great solution for this daily classroom happening.

lost materials


In her blog, you can download free labels that have, “lost pencils,” “lost erasers,” “lost crayon,”…well you get the idea.  The labels can then be put on cute containers you can purchase in the $1 bin at Target.  This way, students know automatically, without having to go the teacher, where to put items they find on the floor.  Students can also go straight to these containers if they ever need or lost an item.


Reusable class list

Another easy DIY project is creating a reusable class list.  It’s a great time saver not to have to make multiple class lists, only to hope that the list doesn’t change too much.  Christy of Crayons and Whimsy shows a creative example of this idea in what she calls, “Class List in a Frame.” 

class listTake any picture frame that can be purchased at a Dollar Tree store and paint it any color your want.  (If you’ve become the Pinterest-crazed teacher, I’m sure you have a color theme to your classroom.)  Use scrapbook paper or fabric as the background and glue on a class list.  The list goes into the frame and voila! A very eco-friendly class list that can be utilized in many ways.  When you call students to the back table for craft projects, you can check off their names when they are done.   This list can be used for homework, for permission slips, or anything else you need to keep track of students.  I suggest actually making 2-3 of these to use.  Christy explains this DIY in full detail in her blog.  



Wishing teachers everywhere, a fantastic school year!

Thank you for cramming 365 days of knowledge into 180 days.

More Tips for Setting Up Your Classroom

Teacher’s Manuals
Determining where you place your supply of teacher’s manuals will depend on how much you rely on the manuals. If you rely on them often, then they should be placed wherever you use them the most. You might obtain two copies, keep one set where you meet with the students or where you teach from, and keep the other set on your desk to use for correcting students’ work or planning new lessons. Place tabs in the manuals so that you may quickly and easily refer to the pages where you are working. Label each with a color-coded bookmark to help you select the current resource quickly and readily.

You will need to keep the free-reading resources for your students easily accessible to them. You might use shelves up against a wall or, even better, standing out in the open so that you might use both sides. (Make sure the shelves are sturdy and won’t tip!) Alphabetize your books so that students practice library skills when searching for books as well as when replacing them. As divisions for the books, use large tag tabs with the letters clearly marked. You might also want to arrange the books by subject to help students make their selections.

Group Space
Arrange an area where students can sit on the floor in a large group to meet with you. This is where you would read stories to the class, have group discussions, do experiments, etc. The area should be near the chalkboard or whiteboard with chalk or markers always available. Also have paper, pens, teacher resource materials, and student copies of materials nearby. The chapter book you are reading to the kids, mind puzzlers, seating charts, and grade books might all be resources you will find useful at this spot. It would be ideal to have this area near a window for the benefits of natural light and fresh air.

Colored Carpet Samples
Depending upon the age of the students, you may wish to use colored carpet samples in your classroom. You can place them in certain areas, depending upon where you’d like the students to sit. If they are to be reading silently, spread the samples around the room and have each student choose the one he or she would like. If they are to be sitting with partners, place the carpet samples in twos throughout the room. It is ideal to have the carpet samples set on the floor before the students come into the room. When they enter, they know they are to go directly to a carpet sample and get to the task—free reading, practicing with flashcards, going over a script, etc. This is an excellent method for starting out the class with DEAR (Drop Everything and Read). Students will quietly be getting to work while selected students are handing back papers, and you have a chance to meet with students who were absent the day before.

Divide your board according to your lesson plans. You might have an area to post the day’s schedule and date. Another area might be used to post the reading lessons. The next area might be designated for math figuring. And yet another may be for penmanship. You can divide the board with colored rubber tape (don’t use masking tape because it won’t come off very easily). Then consistently use a different color of chalk or marker in each area of the board. For example, always write the reading lessons in blue, math in yellow, etc.

Besides having a supply of white and colored chalk or markers and clean erasers, you might also want to purchase or make board cups. These are simple plastic cups with magnetic strips attached. Place these on the board and keep pens, markers, a pair of scissors, and pencils in them for use if your large group area is near the chalkboard. You can demonstrate art projects, jot down notes, and edit lesson plans from your large group teaching spot by using these materials which are stored on your chalkboard. You may want to make sure the students know that these materials are teacher materials and not to be used by students. You may use strong magnetic tape to keep a clipboard with notepaper attached to the board as well.

You may also have a portable board. This can be used as a versatile divider or a two-sided resource—board for writing on one side, bulletin board on the other. Either way, place this portable board/bulletin board where the students can see it from their seats, but where it does not block the view to the main board or to your desk.

Bulletin Boards
Have bulletin boards available for seasonal projects as well as extra-credit projects and a special section called “Student Choices.” Student Choices will be an area designated for students to post any project or piece of writing of which they are particularly proud. The areas can be divided by children’s last names (for example, an area for A–L) or specific academic groups so that when students place their work on the board, they know which area to use. This ensures that everyone always has a spot to put his or her work, and, with a glance, you can keep track of the posted work.

Special Room Organization Tips
Out and In Bins: Have one area on your desk that is for projects or assignments kids hand in, and another for those papers that have been corrected and need to be handed back. If you teach several subjects, you will need to have an in and out box for each class. You might use stackable metal or plastic baskets. Let the students know about these in and out boxes on the first day of school. The students should be taught to hand their things in when they are completed. You will take that pile at the end of the day, correct the papers, and put them into the out bin by the next morning. As soon as students arrive in class, the first student is allowed to come to the out bin and distribute those papers while the other kids are settling into their seats. Kids love this “duty.” It also saves valuable time collecting or handing out papers during the middle of class.
Mailboxes: You may use one or two cardboard shoe dividers that you can buy in your local department store for your students’ mail. In these mailboxes, place papers to go home, special notes to kids, finished papers, and homework that students miss when they are absent. Label each cube with a child’s name, using laminated colored labels and permanent markers. When you need to reuse the labels the following year, use hair spray on them and the marker ink can be wiped off. Another suggestion is to put a small mailbox on your desk for students to reach you if they need to jot you a note or have a concern or a question.
Coat Hangers: You may want to assign your students coat hangers in alphabetical order by their last names. This will help you at the end of the day by allowing you to take just a glance to determine who left a hat, coat, backpack, etc.
Lunch Tickets: Instead of allowing your students to keep their tickets in their desks where they can easily be lost, create a pocket poster with the names on them for students to store their own tickets in. Place it at a height in your room easily accessible by each student. Be sure it is on a wall that is away from where the students line up so that they don’t have to push through a line to retrieve their lunch tickets.
Pencil Sharpener: Keep this away from all students’ desks and your desk, if possible, so that the sound of grinding won’t disturb those who are working.
Computers: Chances are that you won’t have much choice about where to place computers or tape recorders in your room; you will need to place them where the outlets are and where students won’t trip over the cords. However, give some consideration to the angle at which you place the computers. Will the students working at the computer be able to see the board that you want them to reference? Are the computers located far enough away from individual desks so as not to disturb those working at their desks? The software itself should be well labeled and located near the computers.

It is essential that you spend time and thought as to how you arrange your classroom. If placed strategically, furniture, materials, resources, student desks, even the writing on the chalk or whiteboard will enhance your teaching by providing an organized and pleasant environment.

Tips for Setting Up Your Classroom for the New School Year

The time you spend setting up your classroom at the beginning of the year is important. For not only are you preparing for the arrival of your students, you are also preparing yourself for an entire year of teaching. You need to begin with an organized classroom which has set routines—a classroom that will be run in an educational, enjoyable, yet orderly fashion.

Setting Up Your Classroom

Your classroom must be set up so that it is functional, organized, and a pleasant learning environment for the students (see previous post,   “Tips for Classroom Organization,” for the benefits of a well-organized classroom).

The space, materials, furniture, manipulatives, resources, games, and number of students found in a classroom will vary from one classroom to the next. However, the following hints will make your classroom conducive to effective organization. These ideas will help keep your classroom in order, save you time, and allow you to become the most effective teacher possible.

Teacher’s Desk
Before you place the teacher’s desk in your room, you need to determine how you will be using it during the school year; it can be a working area for helping students, correcting papers, and working on lesson plans or simply a place to store materials. If your desk is primarily a place to store supplies, put it in a corner out of the way, far from students and movement. If possible, remove it from your room altogether. There are more effective storage bins that take up less space than desks.
If your desk is to become a working area, it must be placed where it is readily accessible to you and your students; in other words, don’t have it hidden behind bookshelves or within a maze of resource materials. Your desk must be set so that you can see the entire room and all of the students just by glancing up. You should also have a view of the emergency exit door. Placing the desk diagonally along an outside wall allows you to view the entire classroom while simultaneously providing space behind it for your chair and filing cabinets.

Students’ Desks
Students’ desks should be arranged in accordance to the grade level as well as your teaching philosophy. Younger grade levels allow the desks to be set closer together, while older grade levels need more space. Teaching with cooperative groups permits you to cluster the desks in sets of three or four. Depending upon your teaching style, you might prefer setting your desks in straight rows or groups of two. Keep in mind that students must be able to see you and any visuals if you plan on using a chalkboard, flannelboard, or eraser board. No desks should be hidden from view in any way. Also, if your school requires students to place their chairs on top of their desks at the end of the day, make sure that you allow enough room between desks to be able to put the chairs up easily. When setting up the desks, imagine that students are sitting in their chairs. Make sure there is enough room for the students to sit comfortably. Think about the size of the student in relation to the size of his or her desk, as well as the sizes of the desks you place next to each other. A very short desk next to a very tall desk may result in one banging into the other when they are opened. Avoiding small annoyances like these eliminates undue stress and allows for a more orderly classroom.

For more tips on setting up your classroom, check out How to Organize Your Classroom.