August 08, 2017

10 space savers for a small classroom

Last year, I walked in my classroom for the first time and immediately thought to myself: "Where's the rest of it?!" I was given the smallest classroom in the school and had a hard time adjusting to the lack of space when the kids arrived. I saw adorable Pinterest classrooms and wanted to try all of their cute ideas, but it wasn't functional in my room and only made it more crammed. In my second year setting up, I was determined to create a practical space utilizing every inch of my classroom. These 10 space savers are useful for any teachers looking for cute AND effective setup ideas!

1. Ottomans from 5 Below
Instead of chairs around my guided reading table, I opted for fun ottomans that allowed me to store supplies such as tissue boxes, wet wipes, plastic bags- the list goes on! They are perfect for kids to sit on and I can fit 6 around my table, instead of 4 chairs that are clunky and take up space. At only $5 a piece, I couldn't pass them up and everyone who walks into my room LOVES them!


2. Wall organizer from Amazon
Last year, I used bins to store my papers and activities for the week, but I found that to crowd my desk space too much. I stumbled upon this wall organizer on Amazon for a great price and fell in love! This frees up so much space around my desk and looks great, too. Download my free Monday-Friday labels here.


3. Mail crate instead of bulky mailboxes
Last year, I used big mailboxes to store students' papers and found it to be way too bulky in my classroom, and a big waste of money since they were ruined by the end of the year. I now use a simple crate with hanging file folders. It's SO much easier to find a spot for this by the door and much nicer on the budget, too!


4. Rolling Drawer Organizer from Michaels
This cart helped me keep all my centers supplies organized and was easily accessible for the kids throughout the day. I know many teachers buy multiple carts and I can definitely see why! There are so many uses for them and the drawers can easily be spray painted to fit any classroom theme. I definitely recommend buying one or two when they are on sale (I got mine for $30 and it's well worth it so far).


5. Teacher toolbox from Lowe's
My saving grace for desk organization this year! I had so many loose supplies all over my desk that became instantly cluttered the second I tried to store them somewhere. This toolbox from Lowe's is not too big and fits on top of a bookshelf beside my desk perfectly. My tutorial for making a teacher toolbox can be found on my blog post here and if you're just looking for toolbox labels, click here to find them in my TPT store!


6. Get creative if you don't have enough wall space
There was no way I could fit everything on the limited wall space I have, so it was time for creativity! I put adhesive contact paper from Michaels on all sides of my file cabinet and used it for my behavior clip chart. My classroom jobs needed to be at kid height, so I put them on our bathroom door with command strips and velcro to easily switch their names around each week. Prioritize the things you absolutely need on your wall before setting your classroom up and take advantage of anything you could use an alternative wall space!

7. Locker organizers in your classroom library to allow for more book bins
Teachers at my school all receive tall bookcases for our rooms, but I decided to rotate mine to fit horizontally. This allows my students to have full access to the entire bookcase and I wanted to make sure I could fit as many book bins in the library as possible. Target had locker organizers for $5 each and I used the same adhesive contact paper from my file cabinet to cover the wire top. This created a simple and accessible library that has now become my favorite spot in the classroom.

8. Cover up storage space with cute decorations
As you can see in my classroom library above, my book bins on the top are themes. I change the themed bins out in the course of a year, but needed an area to store those extra books. I rotated another bookcase horizontally for our writing center and needed a place to switch out my books when necessary without it being available for my students to grab. Walmart has cheap tablecloths (I wanted plastic ones due to my lice issue last year - click here for lice tips) and this cute pom pom string. Kids are still able to work at this area and I can easily access books underneath when it's time to change out my library! 

9. If you have desks, try asking for tables
Our school media center was getting new library tables, and my first thought was, "where are the old tables going?!" I immediately emailed my principal and asked if I could use the old library tables in my classroom. I had no idea if he had another plan for them or if that was an impossible request, but I figured the worst thing he could say is no, right? Thank goodness I asked! He liked my vision and helped me move the tables in the next week. Keep an eye out for coincidences like this in your school and don't be afraid to ask. It was the best decision I have made for my classroom.

10. Jazz up your small space with simple DIYs to give your room a more comfy feel. 
Last but not least, make your classroom seem a little less crammed and a lot more cozy! One way to do that is by getting crafty. I spent a day this summer transforming old wooden stools into colorful flexible seating. The paint and pom pom trim was purchased at Walmart and my students are going to LOVE using these in our writing center. Spend some free time going to flea markets or Goodwill with a vision of your classroom in mind and the possibilities will be endless.


As you can see, no part of my classroom space was wasted this year! If you are in a small room or are just looking to organize for the new school year, I hope these tips sparked some ideas for your unique space. Make sure to leave a comment if you use any of the 10 space savers in your own classroom so we can all learn from you or let me know some other creative ways you found that work for you!

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