Thursday, August 9, 2012

Classroom Set UP!

I should just set up a bed considering all the time I spend setting up my classroom. Every year I am sure THIS is the year it will be fast and easy. That might be possible if I wasn't so in love with change improvement and growth. Some rules I made for myself as I cleaned out and set up:

1. If I didn't use it last year - GET RID OF IT!!
    I know that is a super hard rule and maybe I fudged a little BUT oh what a relief to finally say good bye to that pile of chalkboards that no child has ever touched; those cute but poorly written letter books; the fake leather fabric swatches that are never going to be Native American anything; . . .  Be brave.  You can and should do it too. (Unless you have a huge storage room with lots of open space.  I'm sure there is some teacher out there somewhere with this. Well, kinda sure.) Also, if something is missing a piece/part and the piece didn't show up during your cleanse - get rid of it.

2. All new games must fit in a plastic shoebox.
    This will enable me to make lots of new games and learning activities and actually have somewhere to put them.  Also the additional materials won't turn my room into visual overload. I may even find the game I'm looking for WHEN I'm looking for it.
My new shelves - already pretty full:(   These are Literacy activities.

My "magic" storage unit.  This thing held almost all those shoe boxes. Now it has all the puzzles, my ridiculously large collection of Guess Who? games, and TONS more. It rolls out, has space for a basket underneath and was FREE.
3. Sort it, level it, categorize it, color code it, order it  - BEFORE putting it away.
    Which probably explains why it is taking me FOREVER to set up my room.  I do not want to dig through stuff once school starts. I want to know what I have and where it is.
This is one side of my shelf of Guided Reading books - the ones I use to teach lessons. I like these cloth bins because they are visually plain AND deceptively roomy. I am considering hanging tags on the handles that tell the level. But I'm thinking once I bend down to read the label I can see in the bin anyway.  Besides I just put them on the shelf in order from AA - H+. 
    I have a great methodology for my Sight Words. Today I sorted and inventoried the take home books I use. I might even put them in a data base. Next week I attack the Writers' Workshop supply area. That's going to be tough since I think the shelf is too small.
    I also waste make time to change the decor a little. This summer I bought a rocking chair for the reading corner and painted it.
We are the "Rainbow Class."

I have triangle curtains on the windows to the outside and the front hall windows. I decided to spruce them up a little.
There used to be only the 2 blue pieces.  I added the yellow and the bone print fabric at the top. I use magnets on the shade to hold them up.  The middle window has 3 coordinating dog prints.
My BIG classroom decorating tip:  Use fabric for your borders. There are tons of great themes and prints to choose from. I snip the edge and then riiiiiiiiip.  Do this every 2 - 3 inches. Staple around your bulletin board edges. Use them to divide a large bulletin board into 2 or 3 sections. I also cover our bulletin board strips. They still work and look much better. I use fabric to cover any display tables. This includes outside the door of my classroom or for when I set up a table with materials for parents. Confession: I change the fabric on the display tables outside my classroom every month to go with our theme or the time of year.
      I'm always looking to improve my system. I have my posters sorted into artist portfolios by subject: Artists, Composers, Science, Seasonal etc.  I bought some more portfolios and am going to try sorting by month. This should make taking down and putting up new posters easier - I hope.  Until I think of a better idea.

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