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Tips to Use Classroom Design to Teacher Different Lessons

Outside the Box Teaching Ideas


Tips to Use Classroom Design to Teacher Different LessonsIn my recent blog My Classroom Design & Seating Chart Tips, I shared how the end of the school year is a great opportunity to reflect on the current year and make changes in the classroom for the upcoming school year.


While I shared some of my personal classroom preferences, I'd like to also share some of my co-workers brilliant classroom design strategies.

Mrs. L 's Room for Respect

Mrs. L teaches first grade. When she sets up her room, she tries to get the students excited and kind of anxious wondering what it is all about. She doesn't tell them what everything is about or what it is to be used for, as she wants them to use their own curiosity and creativity to explore.

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Her personal touches are her live specimens, her turtles and plants. She believes it is important to have natural things around to teach the children to respect first all living things and then even the non-living things. Through this respect, organization and thinking skills are developed.

Mrs. H's Wide Open Spaces

Mrs H teaches kindergarten. Her room is colorful, open, and engaging. She has taken the back space of the room to decorate for each season- from flowers in spring, to miniature snowman in the winter. The best part, each part of the decorative area is interactive!


The students add to the decor through behavior charts, learned lessons, and special activities. I asked Mrs. H if the students tend to “touch” and mess with the decorations and she shared with me how they actually get involved in taking care of the decorated area.


Her little touch of personalization is her bear. Mrs. H brings in her special bear every day. He even wears roller blades because he is such an active member of the classroom!

Mrs. J's Room of Plenty

Mrs. J also teaches kindergarten. She has a large classroom- one of the biggest in the school. While she is an excellent teacher whose students and parents absolutely adore her, she admittedly has a problem keeping things organized and spaced out. She believes everything from shoe boxes to milk caps can be used in one way or another.


Posters, cut outs, bulletin board materials, letters, and pictures fill the empty spaces on the walls. Tables are piled high with papers for students to work, papers to grade, and papers from meetings. Every nook and cranny is filled with some sort of manipulative, book, puzzle, or learning tool.


While all of these posters, pictures, and materials are useful in learning, unfortunately having all them displayed at one time leads to clutter and overcrowding. Her students are often distracted by the many objects in the room. She has also found with having so many tables, book shelves, chart stands, her rocking chair, computer space , and all other items, students are often squeezing to get by.

Lessons Learned from Different Classroom Designs

Each of these women are remarkable teachers. Having the opportunity to see their classroom and talk with them about the set-up has given me many insights.

  •  Living things in the classroom not only teacher responsibility and respect but also compassion.
  • Arranging desks in mini-groups allows for cooperative learning and group work/projects.
  • Use bulletin boards to display other things than just learning posters. Allow for creativity in decorating the bulletin boards.  What a great idea adding teacher decorations with student created decorations and creating boards that are interactive. I asked her if the students tend to “touch” and mess with the decorations and she shared with me how they actually get involved in taking care of the decorated area.
  • Avoid clutter. I know if you held up a handful of bottle caps or even a box of q-tips a teacher could quickly list a dozen or so activities in which to use them. The question is, are you REALLY going to use them, when, and  how often? Keeping supplies organized and finding sufficient storage space will help with this.
  • Just because it is on sale, doesn't mean you need it! I fall into this spending trap!
  • Stay out of teacher stores unless you have something in mind. I know this is not popular among the masses- I love any teacher store! I can stay in there for hours just checking out teacher resources, new games, posters, etc. Soon money has been spent on items I don't really need and the pile on “unnecessary stuff” grows.
  • Make a list of what you need with a goal in mind when entering a teacher store. This will help keep you focused and perhaps save your wallet!
  • Don't bring more in your classroom than you have space for. If you can't store it when you are done using it, take it home. My attic is  full of materials I have brought in and out of the classroom.

I love the decorating and organizing aspect of the preparing for a new school year, but by the end of that year I come to the realization that I have materials I did not use, I did not really need, and forgot I even had! Taking time to reflect and plan could save a lot of time and money!


I would love to hear your ideas and plans for setting up your classroom. Share in the comments section!


Image source: The Daily Telegraph

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