Spaces to Live and Learn

It’s that time of year again. The time where visions of my classroom dance in my head and trips to Ikea, yard sales and Target become very frequent. I am constantly on the lookout for things I need for my room. Just today I scored two blue and green lamps that a neighbor was taking to the Salvation Army! I have no shame in asking if I can have things – people love giving stuff to teachers.  I find myself thinking of how I want our classroom space to look and envisioning happy children living and learning in a beautiful classroom.

Last year I took a year off from being a classroom teacher and was a literacy specialist. I enjoyed it, but I missed having my own classroom so much. One piece I missed a lot was creating a community and a space that is truly a home away from home. I cannot wait to begin setting up a classroom for our incoming kindergartners! The other day I was looking through pictures from many years past and jotting down ideas that I wanted to use or adapt for my new room. It was a lot of fun taking that trip down memory lane, remembering some great ideas and shaking my head at some of the “what was I thinking” ideas (recalling the year I took an entire day to carefully hang an actual parachute above my reading area…). I find that I am now so much more aware of the purpose for everything in my space. Yes, it must be beautiful, but it also needs to be purposeful. I have been inspired by the great thinking in Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio approaches and strive to make sure that our environment is truly the third teacher and is full of wonder and natural objects. I’ve moved away from bright primary colors and have chosen to focus on 2 calm colors (blue and green) as much as I can – one of the many ideas Debbie Diller recommends in her book, Spaces and Places. I’m also going to try to live by Debbie’s advice and assertion that you can set up your classroom in ONE day. Now that may be a true challenge, but I do know that I’m not going to spend one whole day hanging something from the ceiling!

I am a very visual person, and love looking at photos of classrooms. Chapter Five in Catching Readers has some ideas for setting up your classroom, as do these posts from last year (Designing Your Classroom Space, and Reflecting on Your Classroom Space). There are so many creative, inspiring teachers who create beautiful spaces to live and learn in. Pinterest has been an exciting new find with tons of great pictures from teachers. The folks at #kinderchat have graciously shared their spaces with us on Twitter. I decided to compile a bunch of my photos from years past and set up a Flickr account. I’ll continue to add photos of classrooms, charts, organizational ideas, etc. as the year goes on. I get to start setting up my room Friday – so look for pictures next week of my space this year! And if you’ve got a photo to share, please feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to feature it on the Flickr site. I look forward to seeing the wondrous spaces that our children will have to learn, create, grow and discover in.

How is your classroom set up this year? What are some great ideas that you would like to share?

Click here to view my Pinterest classroom space site


  1. I look forward to seeing your Flicker pictures. I always love looking at pictures of classrooms. I really enjoyed Diller’s book – so many great ideas.

    This year I am taking a leave of absence to fill in as a sabbatical replacement in teacher education. I am excited for it, but I was thinking about how I won’t get to set up a classroom.

  2. I can hear the excitement in your words! I moved to kindergarten this yr and have brought with me a brand new perspective on the classroom environment.

    I too, have left behind the many, many colors and have gone with a black and white (SIMPLE) decor.

    I have put nothing on the walls, except the alphabet and number line. We will build our CAFE board together and we will create our anchor charts as we learn together.

    Last yr I traded in our classroom desks for clipboards, stability balls, and lots of ‘on the floor belly work’.

    This yr I sent my own desk to the basement for storage; how often do we sit at our desk anyway? 😀

  3. So excited to see this post! I will be consulting with a group of teachers this year and one of our first goals will be creating an environment for literacy learning… I imagine I will be directing our group this way soon!Thanks for sharing.

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