5 Classroom Hacks

So, last year I moved out of my colorful ginormous classroom into my new little reading room.  I wanted my room to be a little more “Fixer Upper” and farmhouse, so I went for burlap and light colors.  In my quest for a whole new look, I spent over a thousand dollars on bins, new chairs, extra Ikea shelves, fabric, etc.  So when it came to curtains, I was about out of funds.  I looked everywhere for burlap curtains and they wanted a small fortune.  Luckily, I purchased the rolls of wide burlap below at Walmart for a board. Then I ended up not liking it on the boards.  I hated to waste the rolls, so instead of packing them away, I starting cutting small slits across the top and feeding it through the tension rods I bought for the windows.  It worked perfectly.  The fabric was easy to cut, it bunches up nicely on the rods and looks just like the expensive curtains I had intended on purchasing.  This took me only 3 rolls to do the whole wall of windows. Since there was no sewing required, it was about a 10 minute project. 
 In 2011 when I posted pictures of my classroom, my guided reading table was being pinned on Pinterest quite a bit. I needed a place to organize the 5,000 supplies. In order to make these tools convenient and save space, I took the wheels off my drawer organizers and slid them under my table.  They fit perfectly.   I also make sure to have a chair pocket on the back of all my guided reading chairs.  I store student’s white boards, markers and erasers in the pocket for easy access when they need them during our small group time.  
 Another way I save space in my classroom and my sanity is through my HELPERS.  These are two sheets packed with information that might be found on a desk nameplate.  Only let’s be real, kids don’t really use their nameplates. I also hate wall clutter. So to eliminate all of this my kids have their Helpers, two sheets, laminated back to back, where my students go to find their color words, phonics reminders, number words, 120’s chart, mini word wall, math concepts and more.  So how does this helper save my sanity? Well, how many times do your student ask you to spell a word, or to get up and look at the 120’s chart, etc.  In addition, I’ve also created mini anchor charts to save wall space. I believe in making anchor charts with your students during your teaching, but hanging giant charts all over is unrealistic.  And if you layer them, then students can’t see them.  So, I hang these small versions like the “Characters” chart below on a special wall where students can reference them. 
 Use frames y’all! I love my framed 100 chart and birthday chart.  I got really tired of hanging cupcakes and candles every year. Now I just erase the old names and write the new names in each month.  EASY!!! And my 120’s chart, is my favorite.  We can circle numbers, count forward, count backward, easily explain adding 10 and then erase the marks for the next lesson.  We also fill in our place value chart, we write our expanded notation, etc. and we can erase it the next day.  
When in doubt, use metal.  You never have to worry about magnets falling down.  They sell metal at Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Menards, some heating and air businesses, and even Dollar Tree cookie sheets.  My word wall, lunch boards, and this math board, are all metal.  And it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.  
Happy decorating and teaching!
Michelle Oakes

Michelle Oakes

Wife, mom of 2 boys and a bulldog, reading specialist, Target frequenting lover of fashion, home decorating, Cincinnati girl.

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