Saturday, July 6, 2013

Classroom Setup 2013-2014

This has been a summer of firsts for me.  This is the first summer I've fathered a 3-year-old.  Said fathering has included the first attempt of potty training my son.  THAT is not for the faint of heart, let me assure you.  It has been the first summer with two children in our family -- two children (and one daddy) with extreme seasonal allergies (not particularly fun either).  I've been so blessed with my kids, however, and I feel fortunate to have had every moment with them.  My wife is also working out of the house at her bakery for the first time, and this has presented many challenges but likewise ample rewards.

Even more notably for me personally is that THIS summer is the first summer in -- well, I've really lost count of exactly how many years -- that I've known well in advance of the approaching school year exactly where and what I would be teaching.  I was hired early this time... in APRIL actually, which is almost unheard of at least from my experience.  I will be teaching Kindergarten in a wonderful school that is only a few miles from my house, as opposed to the 80 mile commute I did last year.

It has been such a blessing to have the TIME to work on a classroom and get it "just so" with enough time left before school starts to still relax.  In the past, I've always been the teacher who is working until the very last possible second (when the kids are walking in the door on Day 1) to perfect the little imperfections.  (A side note: those not involved in teaching in an elementary classroom have no idea the thousand, billion things that have to be done to get ready for a school year and how these little details just pile up to a massive, never-ending myriad of responsibilities that EAT AWAY YOUR LIFE.)  This year, knowing so early where I'd be working allowed me to complete many projects (Pinterest-inspired, of course) that I otherwise never could have finished.  Now, I'm laughing at myself while typing this, because I know good and darn well (and so does anyone who knows me) that even though I've worked hard to get a great head start on my room prep, I'll STILL be the teacher who is working until the last possible second to perfect the little imperfections...

Several of my friends have seen the progress I've made in my room this summer and suggested I put up pictures and blog about it, so here goes!

Here is a view from my door.  I love the furniture setup I'm going to try this year.  Each table group has its own bookshelf to hold student supplies, etc.  Everything is color-coordinated.  I really like the color labels I made with Cricut letters on black plates.

Here is my word wall.  For years, I've had the bad habit of putting up the letter headers and then never completing the wall with all the sight words.  This was a personal goal of mine -- to get the thing up before school started, so the kids can actually use it!  

I've never been this organized.  I finished my bulletin boards, covered the bookshelves, and then actually took the time to store my borders in an accessible way thanks to Dollar Tree containers.

I made these milk crate seats as extra seating around my small group instruction table.  I love that they will provide extra storage for handy access to supplies.

I also made these bucket seats from paint buckets and a cushion I fashioned from a circular, wooden disk from Hobby Lobby, foam, and spray adhesive.  They provide seating at my computer and writing centers.

This is probably the project of which I'm proudest.  I made this bench seat from milk crates, plywood, foam, and fabric.  Then I added the canvas baskets to house my student library.  This will be the independent reading center for the students to use.  I might add some bean bag chairs still.  I really love the way it looks.  It's comfy and sturdy, too!  (A couple friends of mine, Kristie and Jan, have converted me to the idea of using black to decorate... I got on board their train a bit this year hahaha.)

I made this one for a friend, Stacy.  I like hers as much if not more than I do mine.

This is the back wall of my classroom.  Kristie made me those curtains in the fabric that matches all the additional seating.  You can also see here my bravo boards: the black paper backgrounds with stars.  Here I can clip up (clothespins are glued under the stars) excellent student work.  I'm really liking this part of the room.

Just a close-up of curtains and some organizational bins I have...

Here are my job stars and behavior clip chart.  Can you tell I like stars?

This blasted thing took me longer than any other project I've done.  I blame my OCD need for symmetry.  And, it's still not right and frustrates me every time I look at it.  At this point, though, it's a case of "it is what it is."

Now, to the hallway.  Our back-to-school theme this year is Hollywood/movies/"setting the stage" for success.  I used filmstrip as the border and movie-star-looking stars glued onto clothespins for displaying student work.  Here is also another example of lettering on paper plates.  Loving that look!

This is hanging above my door.  It's supposed to look like an old-fashioned movie marquee.

To the right of my door, I will hang extra-special student work in the "Director's Corner."  I also plan to put my director's chair out here at least for parent night.

Classroom door with students' names popping out of the boxes...

That's all for now (as of July 6, 2013).  I have several more areas to perfect in the room and little things -- MILLIONS of little things -- to finish here and there.  I'll update the post with new pictures soon.  Thanks for having a look!!


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    Love love love the black. I've been putting black in some of the baby quilts I've made this year because I love how it makes the colors pop! That's why I ask where you found the colored letters on black background fabric. It would be great in a quilt I need to make for this fall for a friend's new grandbaby.
    I love reading your posts. Wishing you a wonderful year! You sure deserve it after driving all of last year.
    Karen Pollard

  2. Thanks for sharing pics of your fabulous classroom! The clock looks great and once school starts I bet you will forget all about it.

  3. How have the bucket seats held up? I made them too, and the cushions keep coming off of the bucket. Thanks.

    1. One lid broke, so I put on a new one reinforced with a piece of 2x4. One cushion came off, so duct tape was the solution there.

  4. I love your classroom. What do you put on each color shelves? Is there a photo of this? : )

  5. Love all these ideas, especially the bench seat and the clock! Thanks for sharing!
    Ilinca from GrumpyDumpling

  6. Hi!

    I’m an editor for BuzzFeed and I love your site! We'd love to include a photo of yours (with credit and a prominent link back to the post on your site) in a BuzzFeed roundup of brilliant dollar store ideas for teachers.

    And potentially use other photos of yours in other posts in the future. Would that be OK with you? Let me know, and thanks!

    Natalie Brown