Friday, July 23, 2010

Classroom Make-over 1: Summer Thoughts

In a meeting with Evelyn Ng, a Kindergarten teacher who was a finalist for the Duval County Teacher of the Year, she mentioned that she thought teachers, especially beginning teachers, would be interested in what you think about as you begin to design a room in the beginning of the year. I haven't been a homeroom teacher in a long time so I haven't had to think through those steps, but this year I will be returning to those roots so I am having to think through room arrangement and design in way that I haven't for a long time, so... I thought I'd have you travel with me as my teammate, Tracy, and I get our room ready.

My first thoughts are about the room itself which has lemon yellow walls and a mellow blue accent wall at the front. Our theme this year is a farm so we want to take all that into consideration with color choices. My teaching partner is away for the summer so she told me I could go ahead and make some of the non-instructional decisions. Since Tracy and I taught together a couple of years ago and in the same room that will be ours this year, we have some background for room arrangement. With the blue and yellow walls, I thought we'd enjoy a light denim blue and red gingham color theme for things we have to buy so...

These are the things I am thinking about right now:

Backpack storage
Since we are going to be using the individual cubbies in our room to add to the many book shelves that we need, we will need somewhere for the children to put their backpacks. Solution: 5 large tubs, one for each of the tables, to put on the floor in our storage closet so they will be out of sight. Cost: about $8 each for 5.

Home-School Communication Folders
In first grade we use a folder to send notes, papers, calendar, etc. home each day. These are given to students the first day of school and come back to school every day. We couldn't live without this daily communication. Solution: The school orders enough folders for all of Kindergarten and first grade to have one for each child and some extras for students that will come during the year. The folder is vinyl with a sheet protector cover over the front and back covers and inside pockets on each side. We will just need to add a label with each child's name. Cost: FREE -provided by school; school pays about $.95 each.

Table supplies
We will need for each of our 5 tables of kids to have their own supplies such as pencils, erasers, crayons, scissors, glue. Solution: Although Tracy already had some small plastic bins left over from her class last year, they were well loved so I bought new ones when I saw them at Target. Cost: $2.50 each times 6

Book baskets
We will need baskets for the hundreds of books that we have in our classroom. Although we should have a wooden bin that will house C-I books provided by the school, we will need baskets for A-B books and also for our higher readers who will go beyond the first grade expectation level of I to J-M. Then we will need baskets for the large genre library. Solution: This can be a HUGE expense so I am lucky that Tracy is bringing a wonderful assortment with her of white Rubbermaid baskets. Cost: None! If I had to buy these they run about $5 each (from somewhere like Really Good Stuff). Tracy has baskets already!! Yea haw!

Genre books
White the school furnishes books for our leveled library and for our guided reading library, in grades K-1, the teacher is responsible for providing her own genre books. Through the years the school has added specific books to the genre library such as books-of-the-month and the Media Specialist always makes sure that we get extra books during the twice a year Book Fair and certainly the school has added Math, Science and non-fiction books when they see the grade level lacking, but basically teachers are on their own to make sure they have an adequate collection. No small task! For a beginning teachers, the Standards Coach and Media Specialist help round up books or the teacher uses books from the Media Center to supplement. Solution: I am very fortunate that Tracy will be bringing a substantial genre library that she used in second grade last year with her that belongs to her personally. I do have several stacks of books to add of my own but basically this will be coming from Tracy! How fortunate is that! Cost: If I had to furnish this all myself, it would be a substantial cost.

Labels for genre book baskets
Name plates make good labels for baskets in the genre library. Solution: I have found some on-line name plates that have a cow on one end and a barn on the other to go with our farm theme. Unless Tracy has found something better, we can use these. Will need to write the genre names and laminate. Cost: FREE! online Farm Nameplates by Lanie .

Labels for leveled book baskets
The leveled books in the bin and in the baskets each need an alphabet letter as a label. Solution: I purchased a set of blocked letters with blue and red gingham borders to go with the theme. Just need to laminate and apply to bins/baskets. Cost: $7.00

Bulletin boards
We have two large bulletin boards in the front of the class, so we need to make a decision on what to put on the boards. Solution: Can't really decide WHAT to put on the boards until Tracy and I get together, but I can go ahead and decide HOW to cover them. This is a good place to use our theme (which is the farm) so I have bought fabric (more expensive than paper but won't fade and can leave the same background up all year) in red check, sort of a blue denim, and red with white dots. I've also bought an assortment of theme related borders such as red denim and red check that might go with the blue denim and a plain white and white fencing that might go with the red. Also purchased an assortment of alphabet letters to use as titles in red with yellow stitching, bandanna red, yellow and denim. Cost: borders are about $4 a pack and material, if you're lucky is about $6-7 a yard - got a couple of yards of each, just in case, and pre-cut alphabet letters are about $7 each. I probably bought more than we need but I haven't had the need to do this in a while and it was fun!

We also have a big bulletin board outside our room. Tracy texted that she had found some cute material, so maybe that will be for our outside board! We also have two small bulletin boards in our office (yes, we have an office!!). I bought green check material with yellow polka dotted border to go in there - sort of a John Deere tractor sort of color theme.

Paper storage
We will want the children to be able to choose their own paper when we begin Writers' Workshop so we need some kind of storage system to house several choices. Solution: I am very fortunate that Tracy is bringing two multi-colored storage bins that we can use. Cost: These run about $80 each from a mail order place such as Really Good Stuff, but can also be found in business supply stores and occasionally on sale.

Pencil supplies
One of my pet peeves is children getting up during the day to sharpen a pencil. I have always been a Special Education teacher, so I am on to my students who are pretty famous for using an unsharpened pencil as an excuse many times during the day to get up and create havoc and avoid the work they are suppose to be doing, so I need a way to eliminate this in the very beginning of the year. Of course, each table will have their own supplies, including sharpened pencils (which is a job for our safety patrols at the end of each day), but just in case that's not enough... Solution: I have bought two pencil containers and made labels that say "Sharpened Pencils" and "Pencils to be Sharpened." If a child has a problem with an unsharpened pencil, he can ask his Table Captain to take his broken pencil to the unsharpened container and get a new sharpened pencil for their table. Cost: 2 pencil containers from Target - $3 each.

Pencil sharpener
A year or so ago our Principal gave each classroom a nice electric pencil sharpener! How nice is that! Solution: So I am hoping that there is one in our classroom already or that Tracy is bringing one with her! Cost: Supplied by school, I hope!!

Individual writing folders
Each child will need a writing folder to keep their on-going work. During the first week of school we will send home a project for parents to complete with their child on a sheet of white card stock and ask them to fill it with things the child loves - photos, pictures from magazines, words. This will be inserted into a sheet protected folder and will be used as an individual writing folder and a menu list of possible writing topics. Solution: The folders are provided by the school, just like the Home-School folders but in a different color. These will easily last for the year. We just need to add a sticker with each child's name. Cost: FREE - provided by school at about $.95 each.

Purely decorative
We have 4 outside windows that have blinds but I really want curtains - not something we HAVE to have, but something that adds a decorative, homey touch so I bought red gingham and made the curtains. I'm not really a seamstress - just do the basics - but the price was right! Solution: I bought 4 tension rods and will hang the curtains as soon as I can get into the room. Cost: Bought 6 yards of fabric for about $4 a yard and 4 tension rods at about $2 each.

Okay, so that's what I've done on my own before Tracy and I have time to work together and iron out all the rituals and routines. Stay tune for the next addition of Classroom Makeover!


Anonymous said...

You have some great ideas. I wanted to share a few things that I've done the past few days. I have gone to the Humane Society Thrift Store, Salvation Army and Goodwill, in search for anything that was country/farm theme. Once I went to the register, I would tell them that I was a teacher, and could I please have a discount, and they all knocked off a few dollars. I love a bargain! Also, you might want to go to Hobby Lobby, they have some good decorations on sale.
In search of material to cover the bulletin boards, it's nice to use full sheets from Wal-mart, and cheaper. Also, Danielle and I hit some stores, and the Dollar Tree had cut-out letters, so you don't have to die-cut them yourself.
Oh, and I have emailed my family/friends to keep an eye out for any farm theme stuff. As we say on the FARM, "Cheap, cheap, cheap." Happy Shopping.

Mrs. Sambito said...

Setting up a classroom can be a huge task! Nina has put in a lot of work for us this summer since I have been in training.

I have been helping my mom set up her classroom for pretty much my entire life. One great tip that I learned from her was how to build a genre library. She may be the queen of books! Our favorite place to get children's books is at the public library's sale each fall and spring. You can get use books for as little as $.50 each! You can also check out Scholastic's warehouse sales. They have brand new books for 50-75% off.

Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

You have a lot of things covered. There is also: clips for hanging up student work - inside and outside the classroom. Sometimes pictures are taken of the students and put on the clips or it could be some farm related clip theme. You will need labels, labels, labels...for file folders, journals, notebooks and folders. It is nice to have class set of those run ahead of time. You have to think of what to put on top of each table (for table names and to call tables down to the floor)- farm animals, flowers or colors in certain shapes. So many things pop up when you are there, you'll be starting another shopping list before long. MM

Ms. Happ and Ms. Johnson said...

Thanks for the tips...I was taking notes as I read your post. I can't wait to see your and Tracy's room!

I have a space between my cabinets and the ceiling in my classroom. It's a great place to display our theme. I have found an old wash board (at my mom's house) and some wood crates (they look like you would put vegetables in them on a farm) that look great displayed on top to give the room a home like feel. I also dug through my children's toy chest and found a John Deer tractor that looks great. I took my watering can from home and it added to the look! I am hoping to find some hay stacks to complete the look.

Since I am teaching kindergarten this year I am going with the Kinder"garden" theme and fill the room with flowers and veggies. It's very colorful and perfect for Kindergarten!

I can't wait to see everyone's finished product!