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How-To: Get Started

Setting Up Your Elementary Classroom Lisa Kihn

Tables or Individual Desks
Using desks allows your students to have their own personal space. This is very important to many students. On the first day of school, or even before, if there is some kind of open house or "meet the teacher night" I allow students to choose their own seats. Many need the security of sitting close to a friend. However, I soon find that there are some combinations that can be disruptive to the class, so I only have them sit in that configuration for about a week until I can sort out the best seating arrangement. Then I assign new seats in table groups that respect their need to be near friends they are comfortable with and those with whom they can productively work.

Visuals or Posters
Students love looking at colorful, fun posters. I also feel that in elementary school your literacy program is better supported when you take the opportunity to put lots of writing and labels up for them to see. A large calendar is also important so that you can count the days of the month and teach about long term planning. Be sure your calendar is labeled with all the important events of the month. I also like to leave ample space to display students' work. This can even include hanging art projects or other pieces from the lights or the ceiling!

Extra Books
I don't think you can ever have too many books in the classroom to read for enjoyment. Include books that are at a variety of reading levels and writing styles and make them accessible to everyone. Use built in bookcases, if possible, or make your own using milk crates. One year I asked parents to donate any unused bookcases and I received an interesting variety.

Extra Furniture
I like to put a comfortable chair, small couch, cushions or beanbags in my classroom for students to use when they are reading silently. Even if you have only a small space in your classroom, it really makes for a nice retreat. Again, I have asked parents for donations and one year I even received a small rug to mark off our space. I also like to have a special chair that we call an author's chair for students to sit at when they are reading their stories in front of the class. This can be any kind of chair.

 

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