Moving Furniture, Solving Problems


Moving the dramatic play furniture across the room to the old block area.

It started with a question.

“Can 5 people go to blocks?”

I typically turn questions like these back onto the kids, asking them if they think that will work. That day, I just said, “no, there’s not enough room”. Our block area was fairly small, and while 4 kids could squeeze in, there were often issues with not enough space.

“Well, then we need to fix that! Let’s change it so there is enough room!” said one girl.

“Yes! Let’s move the furniture. We need to make it bigger!” came the cries from, now, very excited kindergarteners.

In that moment I had to make a choice – to continue with the planned math lesson or to follow the kids and rearrange our classroom, making a bigger block area. I paused, took a breath and remembered what I believe. I believe that kids are capable. I believe they can solve problems and be persistent when faced with challenges. I believe they can, and should, challenge the way things are and question respectfully. I believe they are “can-do” kids.

So, we made a plan. We talked about what they wanted in the block area, what might work, how we could rearrange, and what we needed to make our classroom work for us. And then, we did the plan.

The kids decided to switch the Imagination Station with the current block area, allowing for more space in blocks and building, and a bit less in dramatic play, which was a huge area currently set up as a vet clinic. This class LOVES to build. It totally made sense that we have a huge space for building and making stuff. We began moving furniture, sweeping up the real life dust bunnies – while laughing at the connection to Jan Thomas’ Rhyming Dust Bunnies book, learning how to use the big dustpan, measuring the space and deciding what would fit where, and rearranging our space to work for the kids living and playing in that space every day. It was magical. I pretty much stood back and watched this take place, in awe of these kiddos.

Real life problems and real life problem solvers.

Capable kindergarteners recognizing a problem, making a plan, and solving the problem.

They can do it.

If we let them.


Loving our new HUGE block and building area!

Screenshot 2018-03-01 22.18.35

Day 1



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