Setting up your classroom environment is one the most important ways to ensure an amazing year in Kindergarten. There is a reason that your classroom is known as the third teacher. Your classroom set up can either help you all year or make the whole year a struggle. I don’t want you to have to struggle your way through, when I already figured out the hard way what NOT to do- and what really works. Here are the first things you can do to get ready to set up your classroom
Go take a look!
See if you can get a peek into your classroom. It is so much easier to plan when you know the physical environment. Take note of the pieces of furniture and what resources and supplies you will have to work with. This year with Covid-19 I’m not sure how early they will let us in to set up our classrooms- but even if they let you in for a few minutes, it will help you to formulate your plan. Your plan should include where you and the students will do different activities and how to store the appropriate materials and loose parts so they can access them close to where they are needed.
Get a timeline
Find out when you can get into your classroom. I’ve taken over classrooms from hoarders, classrooms meant for other age groups, or completely empty new build classrooms- and all come with their share of problems. But it helps if you know if you are getting a day to set up or a week or even two! Because that will probably change your plan of attack.
Hopefully on your reconnaissance mission you were able to see what you need! If I need things, I order them now. You might be in a position to place an order through your board distribution centre. Check out what I order to be ready for Kindergarten in my post here. You also need to be a hunter-gather. Check out where I get most of my surprisingly affordable natural materials for my classroom!
Think about furniture set up
My number one goal with my environment is clear sight lines in every direction. I have a small crescent shaped table where I work with my small groups and I can still see the students at all the other activity centres. This makes small group teaching while activity centres are going on so much easier!
My other goals for my classroom is to have…
-a carpet area where we all can gather for sharing and learning
-enough table spots that everyone can be seated at once for lunch, etc.
-learning and discovery centres and materials that are organized and welcoming for exploration
-an extra quiet and calm zone
I also try to imagine where the students enter and how the day should flow from there. I try to designate a place for EVERYTHING.
Then I try to draw it out on paper. Nothing fancy- but a plan. I usually start with things that can’t be moved- in my case the hand washing stations and the only place my interactive white board fits and can be plugged in. I then form the rest of the classroom around it. This plan gets rolled up and added to my supply kit.
Make a supply kit
I pack a bin to bring in for my first day. I know I have a huge list of things to tackle and I don’t want to waste time searching for staples when I need to get those bulletin boards covered and all the other goals I have set for that day! Here is what I pack for the first day of set up.
Bulletin board covers (these ones are my favorites! I put them up and they stay up all year and on to the next one! They are self healing so they don’t show staple or pin holes, you can write directly on them with dry erase markers, and they are so neutral they let my student’s work shine!) You can click right on the image and they will bring you right to the Amazon Page!
I pick neutral ones that will go with everything I do all year! We are busy enough- our bulletin boards should show our students’ development- not my excellent ability to pair corkboard covers with increasingly elaborate border schemes. Set your boards up for the year and you only have to switch out the student work!
Stapler and staple refills
Glue gun and refills
Wooden Clothes pins
Scraper (I like the kind with the razor blade! Nothing gets labels off of tables, cubbies, bins and walls faster!)
Soap and hand towel for me to use
Snacks to prevent the hangrys
Water and Caffeine (I drink a LOT of tea!)
Labels (If I already have a class list then I make about 6 sets to put in my kit)
And for some bonus Kindergarten Classroom decorations…
If I have time, I also purchase and send decor items for printing such as my calendar and fancy name tags. That way when I have some downtime in the summer I can get it all prepped ahead of time and not during my small window when I can get into my classroom. I’m loving these sets I found on Teachers Pay Teachers!
This one is so gorgeous, reinforces the messaging about everyone being a different beautiful colour- I may need to get a new calendar and everything…
Looks like you are prepared to get into your classroom. For more of what to do next when you actually arrive see my next post.
How to set up a Kindergarten Classroom
Be good to yourself so you can be kind to your hive!