When we stepped into Brittany’s first-grade classroom, we were impressed by the tidiness and simplicity of the space she created for her students.
Brittany knew her firsties needed choice and options for movement while learning, and she already had yoga balls and wobble stools at various tables. Through our conversation, it became apparent that her first graders would love even more flexible seating options. She talked about how her students would crowd on to the couch because they all loved reading on it. We decided that another cozy reading area would be a must in this makeover. As we surveyed the room, we also noticed there were low tables, but no high tables. We noted that a high-top seating area might make a fun place for students to write or work on projects.
We also decided we needed to brighten up the space. It was cleanly and orderly, but we wanted to add pops of colors and brighten up the mismatched, wooden bookshelves with some bright, white paint to help the space look larger and lighter.
Finally, Brittany stressed a need for organization and making learning materials accessible to students. We planned out a makerspace area back by her sink, where students could get creative, but be relatively independent in gathering their materials. We also considered where community supplies might be best placed and accessed by students to create an orderly flow of traffic.
Next, the fun began! We took Brittany shopping to purchase items to create a cozy reading nook. The nook was created with two Kallax shelves, with some added foam padding wrapped in a coordinating fabric. We also shopped around on Amazon to purchase some high-top stools and yoga balls with feet. Finally, we bought items like lamps, placemats, and small fake plants to make the room feel more like a home. With each item we purchased, we kept Brittany’s color scheme in mind: aqua and navy. Consistency in color was going to be important in keeping the space looking intentional and organized!
Getting to Work
Planning ahead saved us so much time in this classroom makeover! We created a to-do list of all of the things to be done. We then took into consideration what tasks would take the longest (i.e. painting, furniture assembly) and prioritized. We also looked at who was available to help (including Brittany and some of our teammates) and assigned each person tasks they felt they could manage well.
The last hour or two of the makeover included arranging furniture in a way which would work best for Brittany and her students, placing the “homey” touches (lamps, plants, placemats, etc.) around the room, and organizing materials in a practical manner!
Brittany’s students are now further empowered by the voice and choice they have in their student-centered classroom. They can choose from a variety of seating options and decide which best fit their needs or the task at hand. They can access materials independently thanks to student-friendly organization. They can imagine and create in their new makerspace, or reflect and write in their new writing area. The possibilities are endless!
This classroom went from great to greater on a tight budget and a limited amount of time! It doesn’t take much to add flexible seating and brain-friendly touches to your beloved classroom!