Set up your first or second grade classroom for success! A good classroom setup will feel like each group has enough space to complete their task. This means that materials have a designated spot. Also, the flow of traffic is not too crowded or too open. Read on to see how this can be done!
Bird’s Eye View of a 1st/2nd Grade Classroom
When arranging your first or second grade classroom, one of the first things to set up are spaces to support math and ELA centers. Everything else will fall into place more easily if designated center spots are made first! Take a look at the bird’s eye view diagram of my classroom below so you can see what I mean. The diagram gives the bird’s eye view of what my classroom looks like during math. You can sketch this out several times in a notebook or try planning digitally using the Lakeshore Learning website.
You will also notice that the teacher table is in the corner and away from the other students’ centers. This is the least distractible place for kids to work and their backs are to the rest of the class.
If students are feeling crowded at their table, they do have the option of choosing a “smarter spot” for their center. Some of those spots can be the floor, reading area, rug, or standing desk. Kids are not allowed to move their center to a different table to work near other students. Discuss “smart spots” during your launching lessons when we are discussing our rules and expectations. Here’s more advice about how to launch centers.
Whole Group Meeting Area
The whole group meeting area is where you will be doing some of your instruction this year. You may also use this area for read alouds, morning meetings, and giving directions for centers or small group time. Give yourself some space to include an easel close by. Many teachers like to have document cameras in this area as well.
The Teacher Table
The teacher table area is where you will do your student interventions, reading groups, guided math, or even just to hold onto a dedicated space for your para or parent volunteers. It can be ultra efficient to tuck the teacher table into a corner where it is quiet and away from distractions.
After about 100 hours of classroom time, lots of Pinterest and blog searching, and many hours of computer creating time each year, the classroom is arranged and ready to go! Here’s a sneak peek of a few of the areas referred to in this post.
Whole Group Meeting Spot
You can find more classroom reveal photos and information about how I set up and organize different areas in THIS POST.
Setting Up Centers
You will likely spend the MOST time setting up for centers, so let’s focus on this a bit more. The goal is to create a space that allows students to be as independent as possible. In order for centers to be successful, you need to be able to focus on the small group you are working with while the rest of your class is being productive. Setting up your centers to keep them self-contained and consistent will help keep your students on task.
Below is a look at baskets we would recommend to organize centers. One organizational tip is to match your students’ math center baskets or trays to their table color. Read all about how to set up and prep centers. Get all the details about how to store and organize center materials.
The centers you choose do not have to remain static throughout the year, but consistency is helpful for our little learners. I tend to keep the same station types, but change out the activities monthly to match the season and the progression of skills as time goes on.
Here is a list of our favorite math centers:
Here is a list of our favorite ELA centers:
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of centers for ELA or math! Use the centers that work for your classroom and students.
More Info on Getting Your Centers Up and Running
If you’re looking for the absolute easiest way to plan for center activities, take a look at our math and literacy center activity bundles for the entire year in the box below!
Setting up an entire classroom can be a lot of work – but the time spent arranging and organizing before the school year starts is worth it!
When it’s time to set up your first or second grade classroom, we hope these tips help your classroom run smoothly all year long!
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