Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Classroom Design On a Teacher's Budget

 Before I became an instructional coach, I would spend hours upon hours decorating my classroom. I didn't have to do this but I found joy in teaching in a beautiful kid-friendly space. I take pride in decorating my home; I choose my color pallet and decor theme, shop around for the perfect furniture, and make sure my living space is functional, purposeful, and aesthetically pleasing. I feel most at home when the space around me looks nice, and I want the same for the students I work with.
When back to school time rolls around, I lament over choosing a new classroom theme, putting up bulletin boards, and making sure my classroom looks just right before my new group of students arrive. This school year, I had the special treat of decorating my coworker's classroom. After we chose a theme (I felt like a real designer after creating a couple design boards using Google Drawing), we worked together to create a cohesive space that her 3rd graders would love.

Thanks to upcycling and sale hunting, we were able to design the entire classroom, from wall to wall, without breaking the bank. If you're looking to redesign your classroom space, here are a few tips to help get you started!


Choose a Theme & Colors Before You Buy
It is easy to get carried away buying cute knick-knacks at the Target Dollar Spot (we've all been there), but those purchases add up. I often found myself buying a lot of stuff I didn't have a need for but bought them simply because the items were cute. Knowing what you are searching for can help you focus-in and may prevent you from purchasing things you don't need. 

For this classroom, everything we purchased would fit with our black, yellow, and tan bee theme. Most of the smaller knick-knack items weren't purchased until the room was almost done, keeping us on-track.
Use What You Have... Upcycle
If you find yourself wanting to redesign your classroom, you don't have to get rid of everything that doesn't quite fit. All it may need is a can of spray paint, or a fabric cover, or self-adhesive contact paper.

If you're starting with a blank canvas, perhaps you have some furniture from home you no longer need? Or, try garage sales and Facebook buy and sell groups. Often, people are willing to give a fair price on items if they know you are a teacher. 
Ask for Donations
You can skip the previous step and just ask for donations! Teachers leaving the classroom often want to get rid of things (like the couch pictured). Posting an add on a community group may also bring you freebies from people who are more than happy to donate items they don't need to a teacher. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask. 

If you are in search of larger items that most likely won't be donated to your classroom, try Donor's Choose. Teachers often request classroom rugs, seating, and classroom storage. It may take awhile to get the funding you need, but it will be worth the wait. 
Make it Yourself
For this classroom redesign, construction paper came in handy. Construction paper was used to create the large bulletin board letters (cut with a Circuit machine), the Birthday Board, and the honeycomb pattern stapled to the parchment paper. The book bin labels were also a DIY project thanks to clip art and an editable template I put together on Google Slides. 
Shop Around

I am a frequent department store shopper but know that department stores don't always have the lowest price tags. It may take some patience, but shopping around, whether in person or online, will save you money. When shopping around, check the "Clearance" items first. You may find just what you're looking for at a discounted price. If you're looking for larger items like shelving and rugs, discount stores like Ross and Marshall's often have the best prices and items that are more unique than what can be found at larger department stores. 
View from the entry. The room is small, but using a cohesive color gives the illusion that the classroom is larger. 
A hand-made Birthday display is a perfect way to decorate cabinets. 
Every classroom needs a comfy spot for students to sit, relax, and read. 
Book labels were created using an editable template with Google Slides. 


I loved making honeycombs! I cut-out several hexagons and stapled them to create this pattern. 

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Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig