Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cleaning Up The Clutter

Mrs. P. - "Your classroom needs to make you happy. It needs to be your sanctuary! My blog says so."

Ana - "Ughhh. My classroom stresses me out every time I walk in!"

Ana and I went to college together many years ago and she is one of the few college friends from the same cohort (a small batch that goes through the education program together) that I still keep in touch with. At my school, there were 4 of us hired from the same cohort!! It is fun seeing old friends from college working at the same school.

Anyway, due to changes in her life, such as getting her Masters in Education or having a new baby, it seems like every year, Ana has switched schools or grades to fit her needs. Each summer and each time she moves classrooms, I help set her classroom up. That's what teacher friends do ;) This week I will be featuring her classroom as we do a TOTAL CLASSROOM MAKEOVER and implement classroom organizing tips to make her life easier. Here we go!
Before Pics:
Just to clarify, this was what her room looked like the entire year...this was just a few days ago with furniture moved to one side for cleaning. And no, this is not her first year teaching ;)

Steps we've done so far:

1. I've noticed that classrooms nowadays are moving away from themes (i.e. beach or pirates) and are looking to have a more uniform and organized look by gravitating towards a certain color scheme or look that is consistent throughout the classroom. We are going with light yellow with white accents. Black letters will go on these walls and bulletin boards. We are also working with yellow with white polka dot accents.

 more before and after classroom pics to come!

2. Files need to be cleaned up. Ana doesn't have a lot of shelving and cupboards, so the furniture that she has, is open for all the world to see. Not pretty. We know that organizing files are a beast so those are what we tackled first! We are brave ladies! We bought these cute binder labels and spines to go on her binders and on an open shelf. 

These labels? I have to say that this has been the BEST TPT purchase ever!! Why? Because I can change the labels and spines to how I need it, unlike some files I've bought where I have to print and write on them - I hate writing on my labels because I want them typed and printed :(  

Check out how it looks in Mrs. H.'s, from Once Upon a First Grade Adventure, room!
Now that you know how it can look like in your own classroom, buy the labels here!

How I customized my labels:
  • Changed the fonts.
  • Changed the pictures so they are consistent throughout the files types I created. (Love how this TPT file was created in several colors for certain files!)
  • Added Ana's name on the bottom.
  • I re-sized the label so it didn't fit the entire page and I wouldn't use too much ink. I was able to fit 2 labels to a page.
  • Cut the label, leaving a white border around it.
  • Mounted to same or similar colored card stock to complement the label.
  • Put label and spine in the binder! 
Before (2 hours earlier):
We took things out of her shelving unit and resized the heights of the shelves. We will put the different colored files in different sections of the shelving unit. It will definitely make her shelves look consistent and professional. 
A picture of her revamped shelving units with file folders and crates will go here.

3. Borders need to be consistent throughout the room. Ana had thick, colorful stripes on one wall, math symbols for her math wall, and green skinny borders next to that wall for her vocabulary wall. It was too busy. See examples below.

Before pics:

After pics:

(on the way!)

So we've decided to go with the light yellow fabric that she already has up in half of her room (to lighten up her dark room) and stick with the yellow with white polka dots border. I will post pics up this week to show the finished work!

Get yellow with white polka dot borders here.

I will pictures up of the finished walls and borders up this week!

We will continue to make Big and little changes to her room this week and throughout the summer. Come back and check out our progress in her and in my own classroom!

Thanks for reading,


  1. Wow! Your binders look great! I'm so glad you like them and were able to make them your own! It was so sweet of you to pay me the huge compliment and blog about them too! I'm youe newest follower, and I cannot wait to see the rest of your classroom makeover!

    Once Upon A First Grade Adventure

  2. Love your "scroll to top" button! :) AND I'm jealous that you get to work with some of your cohort friends from college! THAT is like my dream job!! :) I'm a new follower and I can't wait to read more of your ideas and posts!

    Cheers To School

  3. Awww, thanks ladies! I am still very, very new to all of a big THANK YOU for your support!! I think teachers generally love to share their ideas so thank you for sharing with me. I am still learning the ropes and will follow you both also! :)