Classroom Walls - Tip 1

If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.

This week we're focusing on your classroom walls. Today I want to talk about covering the walls.  However, I must first post a disclaimer.  Many schools have fire codes.  Know yours.  Personally, I think it's a bit silly that a building filled with graph paper, construction paper, primary-ruled paper, intermediate-ruled paper, drawing paper, etc limits the amount of wall space that can be covered, but I digress.

Covering your walls is a great way to bring the room together and to hide any unsightly chips, yucky colored paint and institution-feeling cinderblock walls.

When it comes to covering classroom walls, I simply must direct you to the fabulous Cara Carroll. Her floor to ceiling displays are so dramatic and appealing. Below is one photo from her blog.  You definitely need to hop on over and see the rest of her room. Gorgeous!

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Below are some other pictures for inspiration on how you might cover a large space.

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Covering wall space allows you to create displays in different areas.

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Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

CFC Project Week 11: Clutter-Free Walls

If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.

Have you ever walked into someone's classroom and been so overwhelmed by the visual clutter on the walls that you've wondered how a child could possibly remain focused in that setting?  Have you wondered this about your own classroom?  

You'll soon be stripping down your walls in preparation for summer vacation {insert obligatory woop! woop! here} and in the blink of an eye will be setting the room up for next year. Therefore, I feel that this is the perfect time to analyze what your walls currently look like and create a vision as you plan for the fall.

Analyze your current displays and the overall appearance of the classroom walls.  Determine if:

  • they appear cohesive
  • they are beneficial to student learning
  • it is easy for students to locate resources that are available
  • they compliment the look of the rest of your classroom

Go outside your classroom.  Shut the door.  Reenter as if you are entering for the first time.  Look around the room at all four walls.  Examine each display.  Sit in spaces where students work and do the same.  Ask others to assess the visual aspect of the walls. Take pictures  or video and look at those.  Decide what works.  Think about some changes you can make for next year.

Each day this week I'll be posting tips, ideas and pictures for making your classroom displays be visually appealing and purposeful and offering tips for making changes for the fall.

If you haven't already downloaded my complete list of tips and ideas for ending the school year, please go check it out. It covers just about everything you'll need and has links to free printables as well.

On Friday, I'll put up the Linky Party related to the Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT. The Linky will be ongoing and you can always jump in and link up at anytime. You don't have to have participated in the other weekly projects to take part. It's a great way to drive traffic to your own blog and share your ideas with others. Below are this week's prompt topics. 

  • Show us your walls.  Post pictures of your current 4 walls.

  • Show us the one wall display you couldn't live without.  Explain why.

  • Write about how you plan to change things up for next year.  Feel free to include pictures you've found online or pinned for inspiration.
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Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

End-of-The-Year Lesson / Activity Ideas

(reposted from my original May 2010 with new pics added)Do you smell that?

It the perfect combination of sunscreen, iced coffee, grills and ocean air. That my friends is the aroma of summer vacation and it is so close I can smell it.

So close!

But before my toes can go without shoes for 10 consecutive weeks, the school year must wrap up.
Those last few weeks can get tricky. The kids shut down, your to do list grows, the classrooms heat up and schedules get all jumbly which adds to the chaos. It's important to have an arsenal of end-of-the-year activities to balance out the nostalgia for the school year and the anticipation of the vacation. It helps to keep the wee ones engaged.

Below is a thematic kit of activities I've developed to keep the kiddos on task.

Below that is a collection of ideas that I like to use during those last few weeks of school. Hopefully, you'll find something new to try.

The following pictures show my most recent kit designed for the End of the School Year. It includes over 35 reproducible pages that are ideal for grades 1-5 and can easily be adapted for preschool and Kindergarten. Included are a:
  • 28 page Memory Book ~ (click on the picture to see larger versions) These pages allow students to reflect on the past year. There are pages for the funniest thing that happened, field trips, favorite lunch, what they did at recess, what is popular now, and much more. Print them all out or select just the ones you want to include. There is even a blank template that they can customize (my kiddos use them to add in student teachers, aides and one child even created a page for each classmate). You can assemble the book using a binding machine or just staple it. What I do is copy the pages and 3-hole punch them. When the students finish writing and illustrating them, I give them the choice of binding the book with ribbons and pipe cleaners or putting them into folders with prongs.

  • Top 10 list Template for each grade level ~ It reads, "The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About ___ Grade" and I've included a copy for each grade level starting with preschool. There is clip art on the side that the students can color or you could cut that off before photocopying and have your kids decorate the border themselves. These make a great back to school bulletin board for the fall (hello, timesaver!) and also a nice class book to have available to your new class.

  • 3 different templates for letters to the child's future teacher ~ It's nice for the next teacher to get a letter from the student and the kids feel better knowing that their teacher knows something about them. I designed three versions of this so that it can be used by different developmental levels. There is one for students to just draw on, one with a headline/midline/baseline and one with smaller lines for advanced writers.
It's available at my online TPT store as an instant download for only $5.00. I have them do a few pages each day. It's great as an instant filler when you find they need a low key activity and it's such fun to hear them chatting and remembering the year. I find it is great closure and a wonderful keepsake. I typically print some photos from the year and make a page for each student's book as well with a note from me.

I promise it will make those hectic last weeks easier for you. Wouldn't you rather spend your upcoming nights and weekends picking out new flip flops and browsing Barnes and Noble for beach reads instead of creating end of the year projects on your own.


Fresh Air Reading:
Have the students bring in sheets or beach towels from home. Spend some time outside reading in the fresh air. Give the parents a head’s up so that they may apply bug spray or sunblock.
Sidewalk Chalk:
Use sidewalk chalk to create some outdoor art to enhance a lesson. Anything you would normally do on paper can be done using chalk outside. Some ideas include: webbing stories, character sketches, illustrating scenes from a book, etc.
Water Painting:
Take the kids outside with cups of water and paintbrushes. Let them “paint” their spelling or vocabulary words onto the wall of the school or the playground.
Detail Writing:
Use clipboards and allow the kids to sit outside and journal, compose poems or write descriptive paragraphs about an object that they can observe outside.
So Many Nouns:
Go on a walk around the schoolgrounds and list all of the nouns that can be seen.
Now is a great time to do some safety lessons and activities. Topics such as sun safty, water safety, bike safety and fireworks safety are timely and important.
Have kids write persuasive paragraphs on why bike helmets should be worn.
Research summer safety tips and design posters that can be hung around the school or town.
Contact the local police and fire department. They are often willing to come to schools and do presentations on these topics.
Read and write campfire stories.
Research and write about woodland creatures. Use model magic to create them.
Make “solar s’mores” by wrapping marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers in foil and setting them in the sun.
Tye-Dye tshirts or use watercolors and coffee filters to make pretend shirts.
Give the children posterboards and allow them to create their own board game. Provide them with parameters and guides. They can design the game board, write trivia cards, write out instructions for play, etc.
Do an “in-class game day” where the students bring games from home. Allow them time to teach each other how to play the game and let them enjoy playing together.
Use online programs to create word searches using words that relate to your school year.
Play a whole class game of Pictionary.
Challenge another class to a kickball game.
Make playdough and allow the children to be creative.
Collect recycled items (newspapers, egg cartons, cans, etc) and let the kids create interesting artwork.
Make collages.
Water color murals. Put on some quiet music and see how calm the classroom becomes.
Read the book, It’s Not a Box. Have each child bring in a box from home and use classroom supplies to transform it into something else. Allow time for each student to share with the class.
Print out reader’s theaters scripts and have your students work in small groups to plan a performance. Supply them with some art materials to make props, costumes and scenery.
Hold a “class talent show.” Let kids practice and perform on their own or with a friend.
It’s so tempting to put in a movie during those last few days. Justify it by reading a novel that has been made into a film. My personal favorite is Charlotte’s Web.
Watch SchoolHouse Rocks and then have the kids make up their own songs to teach a concept.

If you haven't already downloaded my complete list of tips and ideas for ending the school year, please go check it out. It covers just about everything you'll need and has links to free printables as well.end of year ideas end of the school year end of year activities for the classroom preschool kindergarten first grade second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade sixth grade end of year celebration memory book yearbook printable free ideas

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.


Hi friends!

I'm back from a wonderfully lovely week away with my family.

A little bit of Disney.  A little bit of Beach.  A whole lot of sunshine. And way too much yummy food.

If you are looking for a vacation destination and want a relaxed setting with great people and beautiful beaches I can't recommend the Sarasota / Venice area enough.  Siesta Key is by far my most favorite beach ever. Seriously, book yourself a trip!

We got back yesterday and I spent a huge chunk of today completing a little somethin-somethin that I had in the works for you all.

I had made it as a Teacher Appreciation Day gift from me to you.

My goal was to get it done and make it available then.

However, after spending the week having fun in the sun and after reading blogs and posts I'm getting the sense that everyone has summer vacation on the mind.  And so I didn't want to wait the 2 weeks until Teacher Appreciation Day to post this, because let's be honest, I appreciate the heck out of y'all everyday. 

I'm excited to share my latest FREE resource that I've created for you....

This resource was created to help teachers of all ages and grade levels wrap up the school year in an organized and stress-free manner. It's chock full of tips on how to close out your classroom for the summer, It includes a lengthy list of things you may need to do so that you can plan out your final weeks without overlooking important details. It includes links to free printables to keep you organized and help you pace the last weeks of school in a professional and comprehensive manner. 

Table of Contents:

TIPS FOR ENDING THE SCHOOL YEAR.................................................. 5


END-OF-THE-YEAR IDEAS................................................................. 13

CALENDARS PRINTABLES..................................................................... 14


Simply click on the MY PRODUCT BUTTON over there on the right hand side of your screen to download this FREEBIE and prepare to get your summer vacation on!!

{This week's Clutter-Free Project Tasks and Tips will all be about preparing to Close Out the School Year - I'll post the task tomorrow.}

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Send in the Clowns - Sarasota virtual vacation

  • use fabrics in fun, bright colors (aqua complements red and white striped accents very nicely without being visually distracting)
  • red and white streamers
  • add clown-looking party hats around the perimeter of a board
  • tickets
  • hot glue colorful, fuzzy pom poms to bright, solid-color borders

  • Step Right Up to ________
  • Welcome to the Greatest Class on Earth
  • Class Clowns (with pictures of students in clown hats)
  • Come One, Come All to ____
  • Get Your Ticket To ____
  • Seal of Approval (student work board)
  • Flying High in ___ with trapeze
  • ___ Grade: A Ride of a Lifetime
  • Keep Your Eye on the Prize
  • popcorn buckets
  • colorful pennant banners
  • marquee lights
  • have the students make animal crafts to display around the room
  • clown wigs
  • stuffed animals found in a circus
  • hang a tight rope and trapeze from the ceiling (just not low enough for students to reach)
  • make a "ring of fire" by attaching fire-colored tissue paper around a hula hoop
  • papermache over balloons that have been twisted into balloon animals and paint them bright colors
  • Use the plastic popcorn buckets readily found at dollar stores to hold classroom library books and supplies.
  • Use tickets redeemed for carnival-type prizes as a behavior incentive program.
This bundle contains 34 coordinating products that will allow you to design an amazing, personalized beach themed classroom for very little cost. The bundle includes several editable files so you may use your own fonts and colors to customize nameplates, cubby labels, name tags, binder covers, newsletters, dismissal cards, schedule cards and more. You'll receive all of the items shown below:


Click to visit the Classroom Themes Page featuring free ideas for almost 40 of the most popular classroom themes and color schemes.

Improve your classroom organization, management and teaching with: 

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.
Clutter - Free Classroom Decor Color Scheme Printables Design Decorations Set-Up Patterns Organized Organization Bulletin Boards Back to School Name tags Desk plates Editable polka dots chevron red orange yellow green blue purple hot pink aqua lime black grey gray white stripes theme supply labels behavior clip chart schedule cards numbers calendar clock helper teacher binder lesson plans alphabet ten frames word wall basket labels table team work dismissal chart cards where are we specialists welcome pennant clip art math resources book Classroom Organization Management Decor Design Photos Pictures Math Workshop Guided Math Workstations hall passes  school day tracker math focus wall colors days of the week tooth tally binder cover newsletter teaching strategies classroom themes 

You can check out my Carnival / Circus theme pack here.

I would have thought these would have been easy themes to compile, but alas there wasn't much out there. If you have (or no of) any great circus/carnival theme ideas or pictures let me know and I'll add them here.

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Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.

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