Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Take a peak in my polka dot themed classroom

I can breathe a little bit easier tonight.  My room is finally "done".  Done as in I can finally go to work and plan and copy and organize and not stress over math manipulative organization, tissue paper pom poms, or whether or not I cut border in a straight line. 

My room is small.  It's in the basement.  It's dark.   So when planning my theme/direction this year, I knew I needed to really focus on organization and keep prints/colors minimal to make the space feel bigger than it is.  My overall theme is happy and bright polka dots (not quite primary colors and not quite cool colors) and I loved how it turned out.  

Here is my "When You Enter This Classroom..." project from earlier in the summer. 
This is the view you see when you walk in the door to my classroom.  I have air conditioning this year.  PTL. :)

 This is my ELA Focus Wall/Library area.  Of course I just noticed one of my book bins is missing a label! Whoops!  The ELA letters are from Caitlin Clabby, the alphabet is from Ladybug Teacher Files, and the focus wall headers are from moi.  I got the genre posters from Beth Newingham's website and the Comprehension and Genre cards are a freebie from long ago from Christina Bainbridge's classroom website. My book bins are from Ikea.  

The math letters are from Caitlin again.  Eventually this area will have anchor charts we create together in class, but this works for now.  The Keys poster will stay up all year though. 

This year I will have a few ED students in my room.  I wanted to have a place where all of us, not just my ED students, could go to chill out, so this is my Alaska spot in my room.  I got this idea from Amanda Nickerson of One Extra Degree and Lisa Lizak from Made in the Shade in Second Grade.  The Alaska sign can be found {here}.  In the box are lots of squeezable items and some paint brushes.  The paint brushes are to brush against their skin, some of my new students really like this calming strategy. 

Part of my teaching resource area.  I need to put scrapbook paper inserts in the front of the drawers. They will be used for my Monday through Friday materials with an extra drawer for filing/etc. 

You see those shelves?  Those are totally Really Good Stuff knock offs! A friend of our family made it and my daddy painted them to match my then stars and stripes themed classroom.  :) 

 My desk, even though I'm happy to have one, was a hot mess.  It had scratches all over it and was just ugly. I was inspired by my friend Nicole of Teaching With Blond Ambition's classroom. She had the most darling monogram on the front of her desk.  I just used more of Caitlin's adorable letters to spell out my name.  My name is Italian, and follows no phonics rules or patterns so I've always gotten some FUNNY spellings of it, maybe they'll learn how to spell it this year! I got the tubs from the Christmas Tree Shop.  They are extra large beverage containers and are perfect for my clipboards and privacy folders! Since I don't have room for a small group table, our small groups will happen on the carpet with clipboards.  Eventually, I'd like to replace this college dorm carpet.  :)

I didn't get a super close up picture of this area, but this is where the magic happens, up front by the Smartboard.  This is where I do a lot of my teaching. I hate teaching with my kids at their desks, I feel if I keep them up close to me, they focus better!  I made sure to make a big enough space up front for all my fourth grade friends.  

This area is the one thing that I really don't like about this room, all the exposed storage.  Since I really dislike open storage and find it busy and distracting, most of my materials are in my one little closet. The top two polka dot boxes are filled with multiple copy chapter books that are used in book clubs.  I need to pick up another set from Ikea to put the rest of the books in.  The adorable banner is from Bridget's (Lovely Little Leaders) store. The circle numbers are polka dot themed calendar pieces and are used to label each of my students' coat hook.  All those extra math manipulatives will be gone soon! I'm just letting my coworkers pick through them before I put them in our free for all room.
I really wish that hand sanitizer pump was up a little higher so this shelf fit a little bit better. ;) This shelf holds my math centers (still be be cut out but available here) and extra supplies for our community school supplies.  I love a good container from Sterlite.  Word to the wise, spend a few extra cents on the containers and get them from Target.  The ones from Target are legit, very sturdy and well made. The ones at Wal Mart, are the same brand but are not nearly as nice and the lids don't fit quite right.

One of the constraints of a small room is the lack of wall space for a clip chart.  I had to get creative and put mine on my tiny closet door. 

Since I lack usable wall space, I had to put my students turn in pockets on the door to my classroom. 
How I love this pocket chart.  It's been the one constant in my room for the past six years.  I LOVE how my students' papers are typically in ABC order, with the exception of move ins.  When we turn in multiple papers on the same day, I just quickly grab the papers out of the pockets.  Easy, peasy.   

Finally, here is my ways we go home transportation chart.  Eventually it will have clothespins for each of my kiddos for them to track how they go home.  It's available {here}. 

One last picture, this is from my desk. Not that I spend a lot of time here, but it gives you an overall feel for the room. One day, I'll make more tissue paper poms, but for now, three will do. 
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into my classroom.  Since my room is so small, I feel that organization and minimal excess of charts/posters really opens the space up.  Obviously our focus wall will have our anchor charts for learning, but this year I'm not putting up lots of "extras", think random teacher store charts or even reading points incentive charts. Once we are done with a chart, it will have to come down and store away for next year, or recycled if it's a class created chart.  

Later this week, I'll share with you how I organize my math manipulatives, the one picture I forgot, and how I keep my focus wall easy to manage each week.  

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my room! :) 

I'm linking up with my bloggy friend, Courtney, from Swimming into Second tonight! Click on the image below to check out more awesome classrooms! 


  1. WOW, Lisa! You have accomplished so much!
    My room is small too... and you have done a great job sharing ways to use other surfaces for display. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. Your classroom looks terrific! I like your chill out area, especially. Thanks for sharing your room.

    Teaching Fourth

  3. Love the polka-a-dot theme! I just purchased super cute polka-dot-borders from Micheal's today. I was so excited! Love all of the organization you've poured into your classroom.
    Lattes and Laughter

  4. Your room looks amazing Lisa!!!!! Nice work!!!! :-) I also love your turn in pocket chart!!! I need to order one of those ASAP!!! Where did you get yours????? :-)

  5. I love how organized your classroom is! It's beautiful :)


  6. Your room looks great!! I really need to go get mine done!!

    Joy of Kindergarten

  7. Your classroom looks great. I love your library. Thanks for linking up Lisa!

    Swimming into Second

  8. I'm glad I peeked in your polka dotted classroom because it is so pretty!

    Ѽ Lori
    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  9. Oh wow! I love the look. I would NEVER know this was a basement if you hadn't said so. Great job!!!


    Fun in Room 4B

  10. I am right with you on the lack of closed storage space. I never knew how great a closet was until I was moved to a room with nothing at all for storage. I've made do but it still continues to frustrate me. I also have a fairly small room and have to try to make do as best I can. It looks like you really have it together. Your smartboard is in a great place. No matter how I set up my room, it's like I'm teaching to a lecture hall because the room is longer than it is wide but the smartboard is on the long end. They won't move it for me because they say the side walls aren't real walls because they are foldable. I use the smartboard daily but not always for its smart capabilities because when I stand there, I feel like they are a mile away!! I'm 4th and 5th grade French so the traffic in my room is ridiculous and I can't have a carpet because it would be filthy with so many different kids all day long. I envy yours! Great set up!

  11. Where did you get your pocket chart at? Love the idea!!!!

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  16. WOW, Lisa! You have accomplished so much!
    My room is Big too...Thanks for the suggestions!
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