Making Your Classroom a Happy Place


I'm back in my same classroom this year, but it got a transformation! A teacher who retired from my building saw my classroom pictures online and asked where I was teaching now! I didn't realize how different the room looked with a few updates!

Last year I tried flexible seating for the first time. I learned SO much about how to make my classroom fit the needs of my students and me! Before I started setting up my classroom, I had a vision of what I wanted and needed from our space. I WANTED our classroom to be bright and welcoming. I also NEEDED our classroom to be organized and functional!  Finding just what you need is important so I included affiliate links if you're looking to find anything for your own classroom.

Here's how things looked when I walked back in for the first time in August....


and here's how it looked when my 25 new first graders came....


One of the biggest changes I made to my classroom this year was covering my black chalkboards with white contact paper. I don't typically write on my boards so I used plain contact paper. Dry erase contact paper would be awesome too if you need that surface for writing. If you're wondering, the boards are still magnetic and didn't require any special magnets. Here's my original board and tools for cutting and smoothing...


...and now you can see my covered boards! The back board will be our magnetic word wall. We will be adding words to our wall throughout the year. The front board will be our math and calendar wall.



As I was setting up this year, I really needed to consider my curriculum and how I would be teaching. I will be implementing Reading Workshop this year so I needed a lot of open space for anchor charts. My bulletin boards are covered with fabric, but I intentionally left them blank so we can fill them together. 


Keeping our classroom library organized and functional was even more important this year. We have one library area that is organized by topic, character, genre, etc. Last year I used large Sterilite bins (without the lids) to keep these shelves organized. I needed some more specific labels this year, so I got some smaller clear bins from Target too! Using 2 different sizes of bins works best for the collection of books that I have now. 



We also have a library area in the front of our classroom that is organized by text difficulty. A few of our bins didn't fit in this area so you may see them tucked in other spots around the classroom. All of these books have matching stickers so we can easily borrow and return books. I added some curtains and plants to this area to make it look more inviting. This is where I will do most of my whole group instruction.





Our favorite read aloud books got a special place in the classroom too! 


Last year, I had a large table in the front of the room that I used for our community supplies. I moved that table behind our futon this year for extra seating. Our community supplies needed a new home so they moved to a shelf at the front of the room. My firsties share all of things in these bins.


My first graders keep their personal supplies (pencil boxes, folders, journals, and math workbooks) in drawers. They keep their books for independent and partner reading in bins. I spaced the drawers and bins out around the room to keep the areas from getting too crowded. 



My teacher supplies are still organized in Sterilite drawers and a teacher tool box. I sprayed my tool box white to freshen it up! I haven't had a desk in a years, but I still need a place to keep everything. 



Most of my flexible seating choices are the same this year, because they worked out very well last year. I added a futon and some bands to my chairs, but I still loved everything we had! Here are some of the places where my first graders can choose for their Smart Spots to work or read. For my secrets to success for flexible seating, click here


The low table is always a popular spot. It can be used with or without wobble cushions. I just removed the leg extensions from a standard table. 


These two little side tables and step stools make a great space for partner work. I have another  matching table and stool on the other side of the room. 


I have 2 tables made from desks in my classroom this year. Each table has 2 ball chairs and 2 regular chairs with Fidgeteez chair bands. Although I have 25 kiddos, I have found that having 4 of each seating choice works well. I was allowed to remove my extra desks this year so I only have 8 desks!




This table doubles as a small group table. My stools are from ikea, but I found bright cushioned stools Amazon that I love too!


Our classroom futon is perfect for reading and partner work. This specific style is out of stock, but here is a very similar futon from the same company. Our stools from Otto Storage are the best. One is used to store cushions and one is used to store clipboards. They are both used a seats and tables too!


There are several cozy chairs in the classroom for reading and working. Our back table has 4 wobble stools and there is a basket of scoop rockers too! Another corner of the room has a stack of laundry baskets and pillows that are fun for reading!

We call our flexible seating choices "Smart Spots." We used our Smart Spots book so much last year  that I had my copy made into a book for my classroom. We read it every day for the first week of school, and we will reread it again throughout the year as much as needed. 


Thanks so much for stopping by our Happy Place! 




3 comments

  1. Your classroom is incredible! I'm in my second year of flexible seating and I can't believe how much smoother it is than last year. I'm wondering if you had to pick one type of seat your students like/use the most what would it be? Mine are the wobble stools hands down.Thanks for sharing such a detailed look at your "home."

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  2. Hi Sue!
    Last year my kids loved the low table. It was the only place I had to limit all year because they ALL wanted to sit there. For far this year, my kids all want to sit at the U table. I think it's hard to predict what spaces will be their favorites!

    Have a great year! :)

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  3. I LOVE your classroom, but I have to ask... how did you pay for the amazing seating and storage you have? So many amazing ideas! Thank you!

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