Monday, July 30, 2018

Creating a Classroom Library

Creating a Cozy Library

The classroom library is always a popular spot in my classroom. During choice time, my students love cuddling up against a pillow with a buddy or reading to a stuffed animal friend. To make the library cozy and inviting, I've added a colorful rug, pillows, stuffed reading buddies, lamps, lantern lights, and colorful decorations. The bulletin board above the library area is where I put anchor charts relating to our current unit of study. In choosing a spot for my library, I made sure to find an area that was away from the noisier centers. I have a VERY big classroom, which is amazing, but it also makes it difficult to create a "cozy" feeling. I've made use of shelves and furniture to section off the library area.  


The first step in setting up the library was to sort and label my books. I chose to divide my library into two sections, which was suggested by Teachers College. I organized half of my books by reading level so that my students can choose just right books. The other half are sorted by themes or genres. 

I used my chevron library labels to label the book bins so that students can easily shop for just right books and also find books that cater to their interests. I created matching book stickers so that students can (hopefully!) put the books back in the correct bins independently. You can find the Avery stickers for the books on Amazon. I use small clear Sterilite bins for my book bins but Dollar Tree also has some really cute colorful baskets.

Keeping It Interesting

I try to keep the library interesting throughout the year by rotating the books on the wooden display to coordinate with current themes, seasons, or holidays. I also have bins for "Class Favorites" and "Book of the Month" that we add to over time. I also created a bin for "Class Books" that we have created as a class. The kids love reading books they wrote themselves and seeing them in the class library! I bought a few small book easels on which I highlight some of my favorite books. For example, at the beginning of the year I display The Kissing Hand along with a stuffed Chester Raccoon. Different stuffed characters make appearances throughout the year.  

Introducing the Library

I do not open the library at the start of the school year. I slowly introduce the library to students over time. During the first weeks of reading workshop, we learn how to treat books, ways to read, and how to choose books that interest us. Eventually, after lots of modeling and practice, my students learn to go book shopping. I've found it most manageable to have one table group go book shopping each day of the week. I display a book shopping schedule in the library so that the kids know when it's their day to book shop. I also provide them with book shopping lists so they know how many books to choose at each level. Check back soon if you want to see how I launch reading workshop in my classroom!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Polka Dot Classroom Tour!

I'm so excited to share my newest project with you all! Even though it's summer break, I can't seem to get out of teacher mode! I've been busy setting up a homeschool classroom for my daughter. She is 2 1/2 and we love working with her at home. We are so lucky to have this beautiful space in our house. We had been using this room for storage until my husband recently put down new wood flooring. I'm doing a bright polka dot theme for our classroom. I've only ever used my chevron theme at school, so now you can see some actual pictures of my polka dot theme in use!

The lanterns are from Amazon. The apple shaped chalkboard and pointers are from Target Dollar Spot.

Meeting Area / Reading Center

FREEBIE Polka Dot Banners: Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten
Polka Dot Schedule Cards: Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten  
Pocket Chart: Amazon
Calendar Set: Amazon
Eric Carle Carpet: Amazon

Storage Closet & Shelves

I keep all our supplies organized by theme just as I do at school. Here is the link to my Polka Dot Supply Labels. I just completely updated this set with dozens of new labels (and an easier to read font)! The clear bins and storage closet are from Target and the shelf units are both from Ikea. 

Dramatic Play Center

My husband built this adorable dramatic play center. We've transformed it to a flower shop, ice cream stand, lemonade stand, post office, bakery, grocery store, and more. We just used a couple of wooden crates from Michaels, spare pieces of wood, and chalkboard spray paint!


Friday, July 27, 2018

Classroom Setup & FREEBIES!

Hi everyone! I can't believe summer is almost halfway over already! And for some teachers, I know back to school is just around the corner! Wow! So every year, I take tons of beautiful photos of my classroom and then I do absolutely nothing with them. This year, I decided to share some photos of my classroom setup from last year in hopes that you might find some inspiration as you set up for the new school year. Links to all the products and freebies I used are at the end of the post. 

 Meeting Area

This is where I teach all my mini-lessons and where we gather for morning meeting, phonics, read alouds...basically all instruction happens here. 

Student Tables

I always seat my students in table groups. I give each table group a number or name, such as "Orange Tigers" or "Pink Flamingos" which the kids love. The supply bins and lanterns above each table coordinate with the table colors. I bought the lanterns on Amazon. You can grab the table numbers FREEBIE at the end of the post.

Teacher Table

This is where I meet with my small groups, teach guided reading, and conduct assessments. I don't have a teacher's desk, so this is where I do all my work. I keep all my supplies organized and within reach.

Writing Center

This center includes a rug where students can sit and write on clipboards, along with a round table for students who prefer to sit on chairs. The large bulletin board holds the anchor charts for the current unit of study. The smaller bulletin board is our word wall. It is magnetic so that the kids can take the words they need. Student writing folders are stored in bins that correspond with each table color. The shelves also hold writing supplies and differentiated paper choices.

Classroom Library

This is by far my favorite area in the whole room! The reading area is cozy with lantern lights, lamps, soft pillows, a rug, and stuffed reading buddies. The bulletin board will hold anchor charts to go along with our current unit of study. Half of my book bins are organized by level and the other half are organized by theme. Seasonal/thematic books are also on display on the wooden book rack.

Art Center

Here is my tiny little art center. Unfortunately, we haven't been provided with any easels, but I am definitely planning to buy one this year. I store supplies under this table, but I also hope to get some shelves so I can organize art supplies and paper for easy access. 

 Science Center

Here is my science center in progress. I store science supplies and books on the rolling shelf unit and I use the pocket chart for my science word wall. After the Chicka Chicka trees come down, this is where I will hang students' science work.

Bucket Fillers

This is the individual behavior reward system I use in my classroom. These adorable buckets came from Primary Graffiti and I ordered the pocket organizer on Amazon HERE. I use pompoms to fill students' buckets. When their bucket is full, they earn a reward. 

Behavior Chart & Dismissal Chart

We use the color-coded behavior chart in coordination with the bucket filler system. If you'd like to see a separate post on behavior management, please comment below! 
The dismissal chart is a FREEBIE! Links are below.

Classroom Rules

My editable classroom rules are easy to modify to include your own classroom rules. I bought frames at the dollar store and painted them to match each poster. If you're not into painting, I believe Michaels and Ikea have some cute colorful frames.  

Classroom Jobs & Schedule   

Computer Center

Math Area

This area includes a second teacher table, along with math manipulatives, charts, and math center tubs. The pocket charts are for my math word wall and small group chart. Math posters and supply labels for the bins can be found below.

Quiet Place / Calm Down Area

This area includes a beanbag chair, calm down activities on a ring, feelings charts, stuffed animals, stress balls, and timers. Students are taught to use this quiet place during the year when they need to calm down and redirect their behavior.

Classroom Entrance 

Upon entering the room, you'll find the sign-in table, lunch bins, and student mailboxes. I got the colorful frames from Michaels.

Here are the links to my products & FREEBIES that I used in setting up my classroom. If you have questions about anything you see or you can't find the link below, just leave a comment! Thank you for reading this VERY long post, and I hope you have an awesome school year!