"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting Ready for the New School Year; Setting Up the Physical Environment


Each year organizing, setting up and getting ready for a new school year is always an adventure. During the course of the year things get so busy that things don't stay super organized. My first year teaching one of the parents was teasing me and commented that my office was a disaster. I told her that my office was a disaster and I could keep it neat and orderly all the time and not do all the wonderful learning experiences I offered to her son or my office could be chaotic and we could do lots of fun stuff. She laughed and told me that she didn't care what my office looked like, not to change a thing about the program. 

Having said all that, of course I do like it to be neat and orderly when possible, so during the summer program or prior to the new school year starting in the fall, I always try to organize things. This makes it feel like a fresh start and is a great way to inventory just what we have available.


These are storage cabinets in the classroom.
Having all of our collage and stamping materials
sorted helps us know what we have available
and what we may need to replenish.

Love putting the construction paper in rainbow order with
skin tones on the end. We purchase the 12 x 18 packs and
I cut them in half for our daily use.

Hard to believe that when I began here there were virtually NO books.
Probably 95% of the books are mine
and have been purchased through Scholastic.
 I went through all the books and reorganized them.
There is actually almost one full shelf on the backside
 with Science/Nature Non-fiction books, as well.

These are the cubbies by the front door. I do put each child's
name and a photo in their cubby. I also post photos I or someone
else have taken with inspirational quotes around the room.

Here's the Manipulative Area for the beginning of the school year.
There are Ocean Animal finger puppets on the top of the shelf
 along with a marble maze. Puzzles, shape stackers,
Magna Tiles, Connecting Pieces, and Potato Head People.

I transformed our train table into a base for the dollhouse and firehouse.

This is the view from the other side.

Got the Block Area ready. Hollow blocks, block area people,
beaded blocks, colored window blocks, forklift.

The Writing Area is almost ready. I have large crayons on order.
I will add another small shelf on the bottom left that will have paper with lines on it.

Colored rice in the sensory table with magnet wands
and little color plastic discs with metal bands around the edges.

They run the wands through the rice and it pulls all the color discs to them.
Then they pull them off the wand into the bowl.
 From the bowl they get poured back and mixed into the rice.

Dramatic Play is a Bistro/Restaurant: cash register, phone, dolls,
pizza set, sandwich set, customer clothes, and work clothes.

The Dramatic Play provocation. I'd want to sit down and play.
An overview of the Dramatic Play area. 

Working on the Art Area. Will fill the tape dispenser with
the colored tape coming from Discount School Supply.
There are wooden sticks/stars, different sized pompoms,
felt shapes, glue, crayons, colored pencils, colored paper,
 foam letters, punches, calculator paper, scissors, and colored tape.
Will add construction paper and stiff paper for bases.
As you can see from the other interest centers,
 I don't usually put out plastic tubs.
I prefer baskets and wooden containers.
However, in the Art Area I want them to be able to see what is available.

These are a couple of the provocations that I put out to
inspire creativity based on the items available on the art shelves.

This is the beginning of the year library shelf.
I try to keep it minimal, so it won't be overwhelming
and try to include books about animals, colors, children,
numbers, a current theme (ocean) and comfort.
I try to make sure diversity is shown of cultures, ages, abilities,
and the like. We have books in the library, the reading loft,
 and in a basket in the room, as well as in a variety of areas around the classroom.

Science Area table: Books, shells, posters, starfish,
abalone shell, driftwood, Ocean Life chart.

The rest of the Science area focused on Ocean Animals:
 shells galore, ocean finger puppets, field guide,
nature observer, and block puzzles. Oh, and don't
forget the aquarium with live fish.

I have three of these magnetic books,
but in the original format only one child
at a time can play with them and I wanted it to work for two.

I color-copied some of the pages, laminated them,
and taped them on the side of the file cabinet AKA our Magnetic Board.
The face parts are stored below in the wooden box for them to peruse.

So excited about the light table. Found the glass bowls at the Dollar Tree.
 Purchased the translucent shapes from Discount School Supply.
 Found a double-sided adhesive and adhered a shape
on the side of each bowl then spread out others for sorting.

I'm trying to keep the wall items limited to natural colors and meaningful.
I ordered this kraft paper and trimmed it with green corrugated border
 behind our helper chart and calendar.

Our 3 Classroom Rules: Be kind. Be safe. Be neat.
Everything else kind of falls under those three.

Our Science Area is set up with Ocean Things
 to begin the school year so I posted some ocean pics/words.

ASL chart and Number Chart

Here's the room from several angles. From the front door.

From the group area. 
The completed Parent Board is
pictured below.

From the back wall by the sink

From the right corner in the Science Area

From one side of the room...

and the other side.
This is our Parent Information Board. I used more of the
kraft paper with a green corrugated border  to keep with
the natural colors. It includes our daily schedule, our
yearly calendar, our weekly curriculum plan, our
monthly classroom set-up, our monthly calendar,
our monthly lunch calendar, and staff bios.
You can see our digital frame that we keep going
all during class time.

A new year is always so exciting. I love seeing how much my old friends have grown over the summer and getting to know our new friends. I love having the room set up in a way to be inviting and engaging when they step in the door. Let the year begin!!


  1. I love your classroom!! The beginning of the year is a very exciting time for me too. I absolutely love your science area, it reminds me of a museum. Everything looks very inviting for the children (and parents) for the first day of school. Hope it's a good one!

    1. Thanks, Cayla!! We start on August 20th and the kiddos have been busily exploring and checking out all areas of the classroom.

  2. I like that you made a point to use natural colors in the classroom decorations. Soothing.

    1. Thanks, Momma Kanga. I've been trying to move in that direction more and more each year. The classroom I was in prior to this one had all natural tables, chairs, shelving, and cubbies. It was quite an adjustment moving into my current classroom with all the multicolored stuff. Unfortunately, those things are also high dollar stuff to replace and with the current budget woes, that's not in the budget for now. So, I've made the changes as best I can with the things I can. Thanks for stopping by!!

  3. I love your classroom. Can I ask you where you found that awesome Ocean word wall set

  4. It was given to me from another teacher, but I think they carry them at lakeshorelearning.com