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November Math Centers for 1st grade and 2nd grade
Home » Blog » Fall » Back to School » Tips and Timesavers for Back to School Set Up

Tips and Timesavers for Back to School Set Up

Back to School, End of the Year, Fall, Seasonal, Spring

Written by: Katie Palmer

The school year is wrapping up, books are being packed up and papers recycled. As teachers around the country pack up their current classrooms, many begin to think about how to set up their classroom differently next year. (Yep, teachers can’t help thinking that far ahead!) This post will talk about some of the the best classroom setup tips (plus feature several resources from our brand new back to school classroom set up pack) so read away, and get those ideas flowing!

Setting up Your 2nd Grade Classroom

Setting up a classroom can be super overwhelming, even for the seasoned teacher. As you know, Lucky Little Learners is all about working smarter, not harder. Therefore, we decided to create a 2nd grade classroom setup post that will make setting up your classroom as efficient, easy and fun as possible. We will do this by dividing up “our classroom” into sections. Let’s get started!

Sections of the Room

Before we take a close look at each area of the classroom, be sure to check out this post: First or Second Grade Classroom Setup for classroom layout ideas! And check out Creating a Comfortable Classroom for those extra cozy vibes!


1. Teacher Desk

Supplies

The teacher’s desk is a main hub of a classroom. Having a fun, organized area can make a teacher’s day better! Check out this post:10 Teacher Desk Organization Hacks will help you get this area started.

Helpful Forms & Templates

The teacher desk area houses physical supplies, and it is often the area that houses the teacher computer which, in turn, houses SO many digital teaching tools! More and more teachers have ditched the traditional file cabinet for digital files. Want some great digital files to help you start off the year ready and organized? Check out these options/ideas from our classroom setup pack!

Open House/Parent Night Handout

Setting up and organizing a classroom in the summer is exciting and fun. Getting ready for open house and/or Parent’s Night can be stressful! Using this template can be a stress easer! Simply edit the info to match your classroom and ta-da! Open house organization complete!

Newsletter Template

Sending home a weekly newsletter is a great idea! Not only is this the perfect communication tool, it also helps the teacher lesson plan what is to come for the next week/month. I like to send these out via email and printed copy on Fridays. That way parents know what to expect for the upcoming week AND it ensures I am all planned out for the next week before I leave the building on Fridays.

Wishlist Template

Are you always running out of needed supplies? Are you always making Target runs to get said supplies? A classroom wishlist is a great tool to curb teacher spending AND it gives parents an easy way to help their child’s class. Tip: set out the wishlist during back to school open house or include it in student folders using this handy dandy template!

OR create a wishlist tree! This is a cool idea found on Pinterest and can be a quick and easy DIY project following the steps below.

Wishlist Tree:

  • Print or draw a tree on a large piece of chart or construction paper. (The tree could even be drawn directly on the whiteboard.)
  • Write the names of needed classroom supplies on post-its (or clipart leaves if you are going all out) and stick them all over the tree.
  • Add a heading: Classroom Giving Tree
Student Information Form

Gathering all the necessary student information right away should be a teacher’s top priority. This info is not only important for developing positive rapport with students. It is also essential to make sure teachers know about any allergies, get home plans or other important student info. I always collect this info right on Open House night, soI have this form ready to go in student folders.

Student Gift/Snack Tags

Kids LOVE celebrating their birthdays. What if I told you that you could have a gift ready for EACH and every student all at once!? Yep! It is possible. Before each school year starts, I fill out the student gift & snack tags (one for each student). I then place these in a basket, attached to each gift and hidden out of student view. As each student’s birthday approaches, I simply pull out their gift and present it to them. Smiles all around!

treats and prizes jar

Other Student Birthday Ideas:

  • Birthday Box-fill this box up with as many items as students in your class. These items can be from the dollar store, thrifted or handmade items. When a student birthday arrives, they get to choose something form the elusive, otherwise hidden birthday box.
  • Birthday Lunch-allow the birthday kid to choose one friend (or more) to eat lunch in the classroom for the day

Desks or Group Area

An important decision to make when setting up your classroom: will the students sit individually, in pairs, or in groups? Many teachers opt for pairs or groups as kids enjoy social interactions and group work. The key is figuring out who works well together, but this will take a few weeks. Sitting kids in groups is great for projects, and to keep the morale up in the classroom. When students are in pairs, if they don’t get along great with their partner, it can make for some long school days for the students and teacher. When they sit in groups, they are bound to enjoy one of their table mate’s company! A con of group seating is the amount of noise that can easily amp up. Proper classroom management can take care of this quickly!

Check out ALL things behavior in our HUGE collection of Classroom Management Posts.

desk fairy note, super sentence rules card, class expectations charts, and SEL scenario cards

Once you have decided how student desks will be arranged, it is time to help them stay organized.

Student Desk Nameplates

Using these amazingly cute and editable student name tags is an efficient way to get kids where they need to be right away on the first day. Tip: have these on the desks before open house, that way your students already know where to go the minute they walk in on the first day.

Student Supplies

Where will students be keeping their supplies? The answer will differ based on what type of student seating you have. Desks often have a built in storage space. So, that is easy to plan! However, many schools have tables for students. If this is the case there are a few options for you:

  • Seat sacks-these fabric bags go on the back of student chairs and can hold most notebooks and folders.
  • Baskets or bins-With this method, the teacher needs to decide where they will store the baskets when students leave for the day. A bookshelf or counter space works well for this. Number these and you can use them year after year!
  • Drawers-Perhaps the most expensive option in this list, but using the 3 level plastic drawers can be a super easy way to store student supplies.
Folder & Notebook Labels

Don’t just label their desks…label ALL student things. This helps keep things organized and stops the, “Whose notebook is on the floor again?” situation. Of course our team has put together editable labels for student notebooks and folders.

folder and notebook labels for morning work, writing journals, math folders and take home folders

Center/Station Materials

Now for the stuff you, the teacher will need to access every day. I have my teaching supplies in three categories:

  • Teacher Daily Use-the items I use to teach everyday. This includes my featured read alouds (I keep all of these for the year in a bookshelf behind my desk), my reading sounds flipbooks, flashcards, teacher’s manuals, and any other manipulative I need for the week. I put these all on the shelf or table behind my desk. Put these items in a place you can find them EASILY each week.
  • General Daily Use-these are things like extra pencils/art materials, etc. I keep these things around the room BUT I make sure to give students a tour of each of these areas during the first week of school. I also teach the proper procedures for using these items!
Supply Bin Labels

These labels are a GREAT way to keep all the things organized! Use them for art supplies, math manipulatives, etc. These, like most resources in our Back to School Classroom Pack, are completely editable! Create labels as needed for your classroom!

teacher toolbox and math tubs with labels from the Lucky Little Learners Classroom Set Up Pack
  • Center/Station Materials-these are things the students need for independent work! There are SO many options on where to keep/organize your learning center materials! Check out the video below from Angie on Classroom Storage & Organization!

AND check out this AMAZING post on how to store & organize your learning center materials!

How to Organize Math & Literacy Centers

Classroom Library

Classroom libraries are a focal point of the classroom. It is where the students often head when they have a free minute. It can be hard to fill up a classroom library with rich reads if the school does not have the funds to do so. If that is the case, I have had luck finding books at thrift stores, garage sales and simply by asking for book donations on my local Facebook Swap & Shop page. Once you have some books, how to organize and set up this oh so important area of your classroom? Check out this post for ideas: Classroom Library Organization Ideas.

classroom library organized by theme

Also, classroom libraries can be organized by book level, genre, author/topic or a mix of all three. Teacher choice! Comfortable seating for independent reading time is not required, but it is fun! Ideas for this include:yoga mats, cushions or pillows or camp chairs.

classroom library organized by topic and guided reading level
Book Bin Labels

Labeling your classroom library book bins is essential if you want students to put back the books in the right spot! Team Lucky Little Learner’s book bins are editable to make labeling your library easy peasy!

classroom library themed labels from the Lucky Little Learners Classroom Set Up pack

Whole group Learning Area

The whole group learning area is where you and your students might spend the most of your time. Make sure it is an area big enough for all students to gather without a ton of distractions (like desks, chairs, anything can be a distraction to a 2nd grader). Below are some things I make sure to have in my whole group learning area.

Focus Wall

The focus wall is where students will see what skills & objectives are being focused on for the week.

Alphabet & Number Posters

In 2nd grade it is still important to have easy to see alphabet and number posters. These can serve as your anchor charts for those skills. Also, I often catch my students peering up at the math skill posters that are displayed in my classroom.

Classroom Calendar


The classroom calendar is a great way to check in each morning AND work on some math skills. Having the calendar in a focal point of the whole group learning area is therefore, essential. Calendar is a great routine to kickoff each morning with!

class calendar set from the lucky little learners classroom set up pack

Small Group Area

The small group area is another SO fun area! This is the area teachers get to witness the most learning lightbulbs going off! Having all the necessary small group teaching materials close at hand is a great idea! For a more in depth look at small group are organization, check out this post: Tools for Small Group Organization.

small group set up in a 2nd grade classroom
Photo Credit: Elizabeth B.

Bulletin Boards

The last thing to set up in your classroom are your bulletin boards. Will these boards be changed out on a weekly basis like the focus wall? Or will it be a monthly, or quarterly thing? Most veteran teachers will suggest only changing these monthly, if at all. In my classroom I have the following bulletin board headings up all year: Math Skills, Reading, Classroom Jobs and Student Birthdays. Let’s dig into a couple of those a bit deeper!

Classroom Jobs

Also included in our classroom setup pack is a classroom jobs display. Why have classroom jobs? There are a couple of reasons! This instills a bit ownership in the students. They are in charge of certain task and they will want to feel the success of completing it. Also, it helps lighten teacher workload a bit!

classroom helpers display from the lucky little learners classroom set up pack
Student Birthdays

As talked about above, teachers can (if they wish) prepare inexpensive and easy student gifts before the school year has even started! It can also be fun to display student birthdays all year. The display below is also included in our classroom setup pack and will make sure you don’t forget any student birthdays! The kids also like to compare how many birthdays there are per month!

As you can see, there is a LOT that goes into the back to school setup in 2nd grade (or any grade) but you have Lucky Little Learners to help you through and get you ready for Open House night & the rest of the year!

Happy teaching!

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2nd grade math worksheets

Classroom Set Up Pack

1 Comment

  1. Carolyn Smith

    You have been a timesaver and a brilliant supporter!

    Reply

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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