When thinking about your classroom set up for kindergarten, it can be overwhelming to think about all the things you have to do! Maybe different from other grades you have taught or maybe this is your first time setting up a classroom that is all your own! I have 7 of my best tips for you when thinking about your classroom set up for kindergarten!
1. Kindergarten Classroom Set Up: Play and Academic Areas
Think ahead of time about the areas you would like in your space. You want areas for different academic areas and play areas. Think about separating loud areas from quiet areas. You also want to think about which areas have a lot of supplies and need a lot of space, compared to areas that don’t need a lot of supplies or space. Finally, which areas can be utilized for other things throughout the day and will need to be cleaned up, and which areas need to be able to leave materials and play set up across a couple of days. It’s definitely a lot to think about, but once you decide which areas you will have in your room and where in the room you want it, you can start you classroom set up for kindergarten area by area.
You can learn more about the areas I have in my room here. I keep dramatic play and blocks away from the library and calm corner. I like to be able to leave blocks and dramatic play set up throughout the week, whereas other areas we clean up each time. Art has a lot of materials, but we use them for other academic times as well. I try to have a science area, but I don’t have a lot of space left in my room. So, I put some science materials on display on top of a shelf for the children to observe with. This way, they can still be inspired by science and curious about it, but it doesn’t take up too much space in the classroom.
2. Plan with independence in mind
As you are mapping out your areas, think about how students can independently access the materials they need. The materials that students need should be either in clear bins or with clear images and labels. They should be kept on shelves that students can reach. They should have a designated spot, not on a shelf with too many items overflowing. This way, students can be responsible for not just getting out their materials, but putting them away too. You can even take photos of the areas when they are newly set up to show the students how you are expecting them to clean up.
3. Kindergarten Classroom Set Up: Consider the traffic flow
When thinking about your classroom set up for kindergarten, it is important to think about the overall traffic flow in your room. Where will the high traffic areas be? Areas where a lot of supplies are kept or maybe where you are asking all students to turn work in when they are finished. Think about how the children will enter, exit, and walk around the room. Are there areas where they will get stuck? Because these areas will end up leading to pushing and conflicts. Where do you want students to line up? To gather for lessons? What about where they will work, either independently or in groups? Thinking about the traffic flow will help anticipate and mitigate any issues with transitions.
4. Look at the room from their perspective
Young children are a lot smaller than we are. It is important when thinking about a classroom set up for kindergarten that we think about how the room will look from their perspective. Get down on their level. Can they see the supplies they are expected to get independently – can they reach them? Will they be able to see the teacher wherever they are? Is the room welcoming and calming, or is it overwhelming? Think about the amount of stuff on the walls – we want to keep it pretty minimal because we don’t want to overstimulate children and distract them.
5. Plan how you will introduce the areas
When thinking about your classroom set up for kindergarten, you should also be thinking about what the expectations will be for the different areas. We can’t just open up the room and expect students to use it appropriately. We need to explicitly teach students about each play area, how to use it, and how to clean it up. One thing I like to do is put a stop sign or closed sign across all of the different areas of the room until I have had a chance to properly introduce the children to the area. It draws them in and makes them curious, but it also stops them from using it inappropriately.
Then, over the first few weeks of school, I very slowly introduce each area making sure to model the expected way to use the space and to clean it up. I also tell the children that we can close down the area again if we aren’t using it in the expected way. And I definitely have had times where I have had to close areas down for a day or two until it can be cleaned up properly and treated in the expected way.
6. Kindergarten Classroom Set Up: Leave room to grow
Whether it’s wall space or shelf space, you won’t fully know how the room works and how all the materials come together until you are actually living in the space. It is definitely ok to leave some empty space in your classroom, so that you can move things around and grow with the space. Plus, if your school operates like mine, you end up getting a TON of stuff the first week of school as supplies drip in and need a place to put it all.
Additionally, the walls should be left mostly bare! We want to leave room to grow WITH the children. There should be space for the children’s creations. We also want to have blank space. Blank space is a good thing – believe it or not! Our classrooms should not overstimulate the children, and too much stuff on walls can do just that. We should always ask ourselves what the purpose is of the poster or photo we want to hang up on the walls – is it because it looks pretty to us? Does it help the children learn? Did the children help create it and so it helps make the space their own? If it’s just for our own enjoyment, I would maybe save that item for home.
7. It doesn’t have to all be done by the start of school
This is a big one, and the one I will leave you with. I always, always, always, stress about getting it all done before school starts. I’ve changed classrooms now 4 times and have inherited some big messes. And guess what -it never does get done before school starts. You can only do the best you can do, and that might mean leaving some projects for later.
I had a usable library, but I didn’t have all the labels I wanted and there were some piles of books I hadn’t organized. That project didn’t get finished until the following summer… and that’s ok! If I had tried to finish it all before school started, I might not have organized the library in the way that made the most sense. After having used it for a year, I had a better sense of what I wanted in an organized library. Every year I do different projects around the room and make it better and better. Your first year in a space you are still getting to know the space and the materials. You can always change things around.
Thinking about your classroom set up for kindergarten can be overwhelming, but with these 7 tips it doesn’t have to be! There’s definitely a lot to think about but keep in mind the children who will be sharing the space with you!