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Setting Up and Organizing Your Classroom, Part One

By Nancy Jang on August 5, 2010
  • Grades: 1–2

The playground is empty and quiet. The school is a ghost town. The classrooms are clean and the furniture is piled up on the side of the room. It's overwhelming to see my normally organized classroom in disarray, but I love redesigning and decorating my room in the days before school starts. Join me in the next two posts as I tackle setting up and organizing my classroom.

Taking Stock and Planning

I always begin by reflecting on what worked — and what didn't — from last year's class setup. For instance, last year, students crowded each other in the classroom library. I had front facing bookshelves in a small corner area. This summer, thanks to the purging of a neighboring teacher, I was able to make use of her wonderful shelves to stretch my library along the back wall of my classroom. 

Next, I make adjustments for this year's changes and begin playing on Scholastic's classroom design tool. This coming year, I have to plan for five more students, so I'm going to get rid of some furniture and rearrange some things to fit in the extra desks. In addition to Scholastic's tool, I also found their article "Eight Secrets to Classroom Design" helpful.

Classroom Setup

Scholastic's Classroom Design Tool

Bulletin Boards

I make sure that I have enough space on each of my subject area bulletin boards to accommodate thirty students. Instead of using fade-less paper, butcher paper, or cloth, I buy the largest size rectangular plastic tablecloths from a party store for about a dollar. They are bright year to year without fading, and it saves some trees. Many stores offer heavier duty printed tablecloths for about five dollars. The tablecloths are long enough that they reach from the floor to the ceiling with a little to spare. Twin-sized flat sheets also work well. Instead of seasonal borders, I make use of general patterns and keep them up all year.

Scholastic 005 


Furniture Moving

Then I begin to move the actual furniture from the pile, starting with the pieces that need to be in a specific spot. For example, my projector table, which is also my teacher desk, needs to be a certain distance in front of my ActivBoard.

Then I move the student desks to an area that is near the whiteboard, but out of the way. For the first week of school, I let students choose their seats in one of the table groups. This allows me to see which students already know each other and who I will need to keep an eye on this year. I usually sit eight or ten kids in a table group with a good view of the whiteboard.

  Scholastic 002

Here is a picture of my classroom with the plastic tablecloths covering the bulletin boards. The class looks huge, but it's a standard sized portable.

Inspired by the Littlest Learner blog and Beth Newingham's library, I plan to do some major clutter reduction and to completely reorganize my classroom library. It is time for an overhaul! I fell in love with the Littlest Learner's sense of humor and obsessive-compulsive, frugal organizational tips. 

Once I move my furniture into place, I'll tackle organizing, labeling, and shelving all the books in my classroom library. Join me next week as I redesign and rearrange my classroom!


Comments (15)

The tablecloths look pretty and very colorful. Do you have any issue when you need to take the staples on and off. Do they tear?

I LOVE how you think of what will work for the KIDS! My own children have been out of school for quite some time, but I have a grandson who is a Sophomore and a grandaughter who will start kindergarten next fall(2013) I have always had a soft spot for teachers, because they Truly love kids or they wouldn't be in that field. I have been a teacher helper on several occations and have just loved being around the kids. I am sure all your students and their parents appreciate the efforts you put forth in having a good year with your students. Love the colorful room you have planned. Kids need visual stimulation!
Have a good year and the next and the next, etc.

How do the plastic table cloths hold up to stapling and pinning of items? Do they tear and show holes? I saw some for a dollar this week and almost bought them. Put them back because didn't know how they would hold up.

I love the tip for using the tablecloths for bulleting boards.

Mary, Your posts are awesome. I can't wait to see your brand new classroom all set up. My posts are going to get techie after all the set up postings.

Happy teaching, Nancy

Allie, You are so sweet. I loved visiting your classroom and seeing you in action. Thanks for your support.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Your bulletin boards are huge! The idea of using the tablecloths is a great one. Enjoy your year as the grades 1-2 teacher advisor!

Megan, Thanks for your comment! I was an avid follower of yours last year. You are an incredible act to follow.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Olivia, Thanks for your comment. It's so exciting that you are going to be in your own room this year. I hope that you find some helpful tips. Let me know if I can help you with any questions!

Happy Teaching, Nancy


It's my first year with my own classroom(I've been a floating teacher for 5 years now). Any little ideas are going to be greatly appreciated. I'm really excited to trying out, the students choosing their own seats and the tablecloths for my bulletin boards. I'll let you know how everything turns out.

Nancy, Welcome to Scholastic.com. I am excited to read your posts this year! Smiles, Megan Power

Nancy - I can't wait to see what your room will look like when it is finished. It's always fun to set up the classroom a little differently from the previous year. Allie

Nancy, I love how you start by reflecting on what worked and what did not work from the year before. My goal, too, is to declutter. With moving, I cannot access my room until the end of August, days before school opens. Your ideas, especially Scholastic's Classroom Designing Tool, will help develop a plan, so that when I do get access, it will run smoothly. Thanks!

Rhonda, Thanks for visiting! I'm looking forward to giving away some blog candy this month, so be sure to come back and visit!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

I can't wait to read more! Love it!

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