My Classroom Tour.

So that’s a pretty old picture of Charlotte in my classroom, but it’s too cute not to share.

While I don’t write often (due to the fact that I work a whole bunch and have two small monsters at home), what I have written about mostly pertains to my “home” life. But a major part of my life has been teaching. This is my sixth year of teaching, in fact. For those of you who don’t know me – I graduated from Hillsdale College with an English major, French minor, and a certificate in Elementary Education from the state of Michigan. I then took my first teaching job at Great Hearts in Phoenix, Arizona, and I have loved it. Although I want to share my journey to being a sixth year teacher at Great Hearts, right now I thought it would be fun to just give you a cursory tour of my school and classroom! I love visiting classrooms because, like a home, they say so much about you: what you like, what is important to you and how you organize yourself. I have spent waaaaaaayy too much time and money on my classroom, but only because I realized – somewhere along the way- that I spend more waking hours of my day  in that room than I do at home. So I might as well love being there.


This building was once a Motorola office, but it makes for a good school too!


This is the walkway up to the front of the school. Isn’t it so inviting?


This is the playground, which you walk past you enter the school. Not a bad view, ammiright? *Side note – the playground grass starts off a lush green, but looks like this less than half-way through the year. That’s what happens when 500 kids run on desert grass every day.

One thing I love about my school is that it doesn’t look like your typical elementary school. The walls are covered with canvases of classical paintings, and beautiful artwork from the students (thanks to the amazing Elizabeth Burch). Even the library isn’t your primary- colors-are-for-primary -school toting space.



Zis is zee famous art wall. Most of the time I just ogle it because #truelife kindergarteners be painting better than me.

Now down to my classroom (because uhm isn’t that what you’ve really been waiting for). Outside each room we have a bulletin board that we get to  have to decorate.


The Fourth Graders memorize ALL of “Paul Revere’s Ride.” That would be 126 lines of poetry. What did you do as a fourth grader? #lifegoals

Now won’t you come on in?


Ah, there is nothing like the excitement of going to school!!

I pride myself on being organized, which usually involves lots of baskets and bins (read: endless trips to Target and Homegoods) so that every THING has it’s own place and space. I want my classroom to be set up in a way that the fourth graders can manage much of it on their own. Need scissors? gluesticks? Tissues? – you know where they are. Teachers make so many decisions and answer so many questions every day, and I don’t want those menial things to be the questions that use up all my energy for the day. The more I’ve taught, the more I’ve given over to the students because they are capable, and I want them to feel capable of taking care of some of their own little problems.


Paper towels, tissues, and lysol wipes are stored in the wooden crates (I stained them). White boards were cut from this at Home Depot. They will cut them there for you in 1 ft. by 1 ft. squares. This gives you 32 individual white boards for under $15. I have found that they hold up pretty well for a very cheap investment. I used these bins from Target to hide away games or other supplies that I don’t want sitting out.


I LOVE this cart from IKEA. It has really helped my keep my own teacher things organized for each lesson.


I use this bamboo organizer tray to keep everything for protractors, to extra pencils, to stamps in. These colored masons jars {similar} store extra scissors and pencils that need to be sharpened. This Cynthia Rowley home 6-bin caddy helps keep all those highlighters organized. I picked mine up from Marshalls, so it was hard to locate this exact one to show you, but this one and this one are similar.


I love using mason jars to store pens and colored pencils. They are pretty and functional!

As you move around the room to the right you will see:


I bought this file cabinet from Goodwill, painted it up, and put new handles on it. The paper bin you can get here from Target. The basket is from Joanne’s {smaller version here}. And in the basket are small blanket squares and pillows that the kids use when we do free reading (it gives them a defined space).


I used these cubbies from IKEA to create a classroom library. The only problem is that they don’t work well for chapter books, so enter in these bins. It makes looking through books a lot easier too and better utilizes the space.


I keep extra books (usually curricular related) in the larger grey and white  bins that way I can rotate books and freshen up our library selection each quarter. A paper tray {similar and similar}  works great for extra copies (then the kids can find their own when they lose the one you know you gave them).


The laundry hamper {similar idea here} doubles as a ball storage space. Hooray for pretty ways to store ugly things.

Also, this is my view outside of my classroom. Can’t. Be. Beat.


And on the other side of the room:


I decided to lower the table this year because I love sitting on the floor to work, so I figured some kids might like that too. It’s been a hit.


I loved these bins for my Reading A to Z books (these are books that you print out-with a membership- from the Reading A-Z company. They make great little readers to use in reading groups) because I could easily label what was in each one. On the smaller shelf: small bins of alphabet stamps that the kids use during #daily5 time to practice their spelling words. On top: the white canister houses glue sticks, and a ramekin houses extra erasers.


Other small details:

I use this stapler and these scissors because beautiful things make me happy. I also use this organizer to file the students graded work. #target, you really are a gem… and also a fiend because you so often seduce me with your beautiful things and then take all my money.


I love that could personalize the color scheme! I have plans to make more with other backgrounds and colors if you are interested. FYI: you can use dry erase markers on glass!

This is a calendar I made from paint chips, extra fabric and cheap frame from Goodwill. I keep it in a place where the kids can see what is coming up. This helps alleviate many worries and extra questions.


These are the classroom rules I came up with this year. I wanted something more specific than just abstract expectations. It has worked out pretty well. As a class (I’m including myself here), we have really practiced failing and having mistakes this year with the view that we learn so much from those moments of failure.


A closer look at the job chart I made. I just used large ribbon, velcro (the labels are velcroed on so that you could change them if you wanted to trade out a job one year), labels, cardstock, contact paper, and jumbo chalkboard clothes pins. The clothes pins I wipe off and use year after year (*claps for saving money*).

My objective with classroom jobs is to get stuff DONE (some teachers use it to help build responsibility). Because my objective is aimed at efficiency, I randomly pull clothes pins and let the students choose their jobs. I have found that this more effective in actually getting the desired task completed (who would have thunk that having a choice in what you do actually motivates you to do it…).


This little bin (I don’t know why, but it will only pull it up on the U.K. IKEA site) from Ikea was dolled up. I based mine off of this DIY, but there are TONS of other ways to jujj…tszuj.. it up. It functions as a place to keep the extra job board clothes pins and also as a library catalog system.


I also use a small glass trinket box and another Ikea bin (see above links) to help keep things on my desk organized because getting out tons of papers clip (a task a do a thousand times a day) is oh so much more enjoyable when you get to open this tiny little treasure chest.

I hope you enjoyed visiting my classroom and maybe it even sparked some at-home organization ideas!



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