Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning!

I don't know about you, but I am itching to clean my classroom - big time! It's that time in the school year when everything has been used - A LOT, by little hands who like to play, play, play. Not that I will have any time before my students'  last day of school, but I might be able to tackle a few projects here and there.

I recently just presented with a friend and colleague of mine, Tiffany, at the MiAEYC (Michigan Education Association of Education for Young Children). You can check out her great classroom blog at HERE! We had a great time presenting "File Cabinet Rebellion - Get Your Classroom Organized". Much of our research consisted of scouring the internet, Pinterest, and visiting great blogs and local classrooms, and organizing our own classrooms!

Organizing is my guilty pleasure---my "geek" thing to do! I thought I'd take a moment to share a bit of what I do for any of you Spring cleaners out there!

But first...take a peek at our ambush make-over for one of our First Grade teachers, Mrs. Jennings! We gave her a great jump on HER spring cleaning!

I just love her desk afterwards! 

Everything has a place now! 

I personally can't wait until the day I do not have to have a shared classroom---I would SO get rid of my desk. I used to not have a desk when I had my own classroom - and I loved it. I mean - what early childhood teacher really needs a desk any way?! We never have time to sit at it, and most of us struggle to maximize our space for our students and centers. BUT - even I want my desk to look like this! Which it currently does not. 

I think it's important to always start with yourself and your teacher spaces when wanting to feel organized and put together. Even though I know you have it together - sometimes we feel like we do not---and that's in part to the busy days we lead and things just get tossed and piled up. There's simply NO TIME! I get it.

BUT - if you are feeling un-organized and overwhelmed - start with your teacher space. If you feel great about your space, you will feel more calm, put together, and fully prepared for each day. You will also begin to project that feeling to your students, too. We certainly expect our students to be calm, prepared, and organized----so we must model that just like we would model a great writing lesson.

If you are up for setting aside just a couple (okay - maybe 3) hours of your could have a great space that looks like this, too! Here's a few tips on how to get this great space.

1. Visit the Dollar Tree. I'm up for organizing anything - especially if it only costs me $1/item!! SCORE! Grab everything you think you need to get organized (who cares if you buy too much---you will certainly use it later. Definitely buy more than you think you will need...I bet you will end up using it.)

Doing the FUN part first---shopping, labeling, etc. will get you in the mood to organize. It's the carrot hanging in front of you----striving for that finished product.

2. Come up with a labeling system. What will you use - chalk vinyl? address labels? Pre-printed labels? Be sure to use something colorful, visually appealing, and nice/neat looking. DO NOT label on the container with a sharpie in your own handwriting. It just looks messy. You are a professional----go for a polished look! 

3. PITCH, pitch, pitch it! Trash anything that you do not need. And DONATE anything of value that you can part with. Have a student teacher, or a first year teacher in your building? They will not turn away freebies. Share your junk treasure. 

First things first....your desk is probably filled with little misc. items: game pieces, things found in your carpet, dice, band aids, etc. Corral that stuff with a little "Lost and Found" box on your desk - or somewhere in your classroom. Encourage your students to not hand you a bazillion microscopic game pieces, sequins, and dice 50 times per day. Simply have them drop it in the Lost and Found. From there, you can put everything back where it belongs daily or weekly. I suggest daily---it will take 5 minutes. Have older students? Make this part of your classroom helper responsibilities.

This box cost $ guessed it----the DOLLAR TREE! 

Grab some typical lock-n-seal tupperware at the Dollar Tree! $1/each. Oh Yeah!
Slap on a chalk vinyl label---and you can easily change the contents and label anytime.
It's by far the best labeling system----my new trendy favorite!

Again - great little interlocking tiny blue bins found at the Dollar Tree. $1 for a set of 3!

Always, always have a daily drop box - a place for things to land that need to be filed, graded, put away, etc. The key is to empty it DAILY and put things in their rightful place. It only takes a few moments---and you will feel great walking to your desk each morning, knowing there are not yesterday's leftovers waiting for you. Just Git-R-Done! 

I have LOTS more cleaning and organizing tips up my stay tuned! I should probably do a weekly feature. But as to not get overwhelmed, you must choose one space, and start small. Your teacher space would be a great place to start your spring cleaning! Go ahead....take one last look and be inspired and motivated! 

Drop me a comment/picture of your before/after desk make-overs! 

Have FUN! 


  1. You may have answered this already but where did you the black chalk board?

    Ms. Patterson

  2. Great question----you cannot buy it at Michaels or Hobby Lobby. At least not where I live. I order it online. Walmart or Home Depot have a small selection of "Wallies" chalk vinyl....but I prefer to order a bigger roll.

    Google chalkboard vinyl, or search for it on Etsy. I haven't yet found a brand I dislike. Hexis is a great one---with more texture and thicker material. You can cut it on your Cricut or other similar machine!! It is GREAT!

    Visit a great friend and colleague of mine that sells it pre-cut or you can buy 12x12 sheets and do your own!

    You will LOVE it!

  3. I LOVE this! I have similar tubs but the chalk vinyl definitely looks more appealing. I would love to be in your room!

  4. Nicci - I would LOVE to see you---so you could stop my your old hometown any 'ol time and come visit me!!! :)