Must-Haves for Setting Up a First-grade Classroom feature image

You’re teaching first grade! Now what? First grade is such an important year of learning for our elementary school students. Kiddos in first grade have some huge strides to make, and teaching these youngsters can be incredibly rewarding, but having a smooth setup and organized classroom is important for success. Take a look at some of the must-haves for a first-grade classroom!

Set Up!

So you got the keys, now what? It is certainly time to get busy organizing! One of the priorities is getting your supplies in order. Where will you keep your coloring supplies? Your Play-Doh? What about all of the cubbies? Where will student’s extra supplies go?

Grabbing some milk crates for storage is great, especially if you add a cushion and double them as seats. Plastic drawers that can be labeled are a critical need for staying organized with supplies too. Think about where everything will go and label, label, label.

Then comes the bulletin board! Build an inviting and exciting, colorful bulletin board with student names. Students need to feel that warmth and excitement when coming into first grade!

a ton of different books for classroom pack up tips and tricks

Build a classroom reading nook to make reading irresistible with some cute throw pillows and cozy chairs or even carpet squares. Build the reading nook and they will read!

Prepare for early finishers and Fun Friday! Get some sensory tables and prepare a folder for early finishers for all of your brain boomers. Check out Brain Boomers here! These will be needed when you have guided reading groups and students who need to stay busy because they are done.

All Set-Up? Tips for Instruction!

Use read-alouds and lots of them! Modeling reading strategies, critical thinking, and monitoring listening comprehension are so critical, and read-alouds will give you all of that data. Use them all the time for any subject, and don’t forget to include social-emotional learning read-alouds to dissolve those friendship feuds that pop up throughout the year.

Build a calm corner! Regulating emotions and feeling big emotions is a challenge for our little first graders. Providing a calm corner with some fidgets and guides to calming down is critical for social-emotional growth. This is a great opportunity to diffuse those big emotions positively

Use Morning Meetings! Morning meetings give a chance to build that necessary community in the classroom. It is time to share our weekends, review the calendar, chat about what is coming up, prepare for a smooth transition into the day, and give students a reliable first step each morning.

Don’t be afraid of talking about math with number talks and using centers for reading and writing. Use all of the hands-on activities for guided reading and use the math manipulatives to help the kiddos grasp the concepts better. Get messy with science experiments and have fun!

Transitions and Routines!

Keep every transition and routine the same. Practice, practice, and practice some more. After a break, practice all of your routines and transitions again. Use those brain breaks if transitioning is difficult and find what works for you. Maybe use a call back like when teachers say macaroni and the kids yell cheese. You can easily gain their attention to the transition.

Keep clearly labeled paperwork bins with to be graded, ready to return, and other labels to keep everything in order!

Teach the difference between tattling and reporting to avoid students constantly telling on each other over things they can handle themselves.

Create a system for lunch counts! Use a pocket chart, move names on magnets, or even use counters with students’ names. Make your life easier by keeping that lunch count straight instead of making yourself crazy over a hot lunch!

Be Proud!

Show off your students’ work in the hallways and in the classroom. Send home positive notes to parents and send that newsletter to let parents know what is happening in your classroom. If you like technology, use an app like Class Dojo to not only keep track of behavior but also send photos and updates home regularly.

Ask for help!

When all else fails, ask a veteran. Teachers always help each other. Reach out and get ideas from others on what works, and use what works for you!

First grade is going to be amazing. Looking for some ideas for Brain Boomers, Centers, or other cool activities to use? Check this bundle out to get you started! Use some of these awesome tips to get your first-grade classroom organized, flowing, and transitioning smoothly!