It doesn’t matter if you are a first year teacher wondering how to set up your classroom for the first day of school or a veteran teacher looking to be more systematic with how you set up your room, this post includes tips and ideas that you’ll find helpful including this comprehensive teacher supply list. This resource includes an organized list of over 200 must-have items for the classroom and printable organizers for you to create a list specific to you. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for the new school year.
How to Set Up Your Classroom in 10 Steps
Below are 10 steps for how to set up your elementary classroom.
1. Analyze Your Space
The first step for how to set up your classroom is to analyze your existing classroom.
You will need a phone, tape measure, ruler (or something to draw straight lines), and piece of paper.
Stand in the middle of your classroom and take a picture of each wall. Open up cabinets and closets and take a photo of each of those as well. Stand in each corner and take a photo of the room from that angle. These photos will help you plan your space while you are outside of the classroom.
Create a Diagram
Sketch out each of your walls as well as an area view as if you were looking down at your classroom from the sky. Include details such as bulletin boards, outlets, and computer hook-ups.
Measure and Record
Measure bulletin boards, space between boards, closets, and shelves. You’ll want to record all measurements related to anything that will play a role in your classroom design. Record these measurements onto your diagram.
Take Inventory of What You Have in Your Space
Make a list of all of the furniture in your classroom. This includes items such as desks, shelves, and easels. In addition, make a list of all of the district-issued items that you’re required to house (science kits, reading anthologies, etc).
2. Get Inspired
Great places to get inspiration from are Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok. Definitely follow us on our Clutter-Free Classroom Instagram and join our Clutter-Free Classroom Facebook group. We share tons of tips and ideas for setting up your classroom. Mainly focus on the classroom layout at this stage. Decorating comes later.
3. Plan Out Your Space
The third step for how to set up your classroom is to plan out your space.
Break Your Classroom into Zones
It can be very overwhelming to tackle your whole classroom at once. Instead, break it down into zones. Below are some examples of classroom zones:
- Whole Group Meeting Area
- Small Group Instruction Area
- Classroom Library
- Cozy Reading Nooks
- Teacher’s Desk
- Student Seating
- Writing Center
- Math Manipulatives
- Listening Centers
- Science Center
- Social Studies Center
- Arts and Crafts Supplies
- Mail and Communication Station
- Recess Materials
- Math Word Wall
- Lunch Orders
- Job Charts
- Behavior Boards and Charts
- Birthday Displays
- Student Work Displays
Update Your Classroom Diagram
The next step is to update the classroom diagram you created based on what your desired layout is. Be sure to include the location of all of the zones that you brainstormed in the last step.
Plan Out Each Zone
Take one zone at a time. Plan out each zone in great detail.
Choose a Classroom Theme or Color Scheme
Check out this list of 60+ classroom themes for elementary teachers. It includes a wide range of classrooms themes. Some examples are a mountain classroom theme, sunflower classroom theme, and green classroom color scheme.
4. Declutter Your Classroom
This step is one of the most important! Learn how to declutter your classroom and be sure to avoid these 20 mistakes teachers make when they declutter their classroom.
5. Clean Your Classroom
This classroom cleanup system is my favorite! It will guide you through cleaning up your classroom quickly and easily.
6. Move and Position Furniture
Move and position your classroom furniture based on the plans you put together.
7. Make a Shopping List
The next step is to make a shopping list. Identify everything that your classroom needs.
8. Go Shopping
Now that your classroom is sparkling clean, your furniture is set up, and you have a list of what you need, it’s time to go shopping! If you are sticking to a tight budget, consider shopping at your own house, reaching out to friends and family, and going to yard sales. Online yard sales and Facebook Marketplace are other great options. Other stores I love are Target, Walmart, local teacher shops, craft stores like Michaels, Dollar Tree and Amazon. One thing you’ll definitely want to download is a classroom theme or color scheme bundle. We offer 60+ classroom themes to choose from. Download one that best fits your style!
9. Set Up Your Classroom
Start with the essentials. You’ll need to prioritize your to do list because the first day of school sneaks up on you sometimes and you’ll want to make sure you have at least the basics before your students arrive. One of the things you will definitely want to have up there is a bulletin board background and bulletin board trim on all your bulletin boards. You don’t have to have anything on them by the first day, but it will help you create a nice, finished look.
10. Decorate Your Space
The last step is to decorate your classroom! These blog posts may be helpful:
- How to Decorate the Classroom of Your Dreams
- How to Create a Cohesive Learning Environment for Your Students
- Colorful Classroom Decor Ideas For Elementary Teachers
In closing, we hope you found these 10 steps for how to set up your classroom helpful!