HOW TO SET UP A CLASS MEETING AREA (CLASSROOM SET UP IDEAS)

It is incredibly important to create a space in your classroom that is specifically designed for read aloud time during your day. This can be a shared space for whole group instruction for any content area, but there are specific elements that need to be present in order for the space to be conducive to read alouds.

I am often asked: How can I create the IDEAL class meeting area for my read aloud instruction? This questioning is essential when you are setting up your classroom and creating a learning environment that best serves your students.

You will learn how to create your ideal class meeting area by reflecting on the following questions:
  • What is a class meeting space or whole class meeting area?
  • What factors should you consider when planning your class meeting area?
  • What is the purpose of a whole class meeting area?
  • What furnishings and supplies do I need to set up my meeting area?
  • What if there is no shelving in my class meeting area?
  • What safety precautions should I take into account?
  • What other tips and ideas should I consider when setting up my class meeting area?
What is a class meeting space or whole class meeting area?
The class meeting area is the hub of the classroom.  It is where you and your students will come together as a community to learn, share, problem solve, and celebrate success.  The meeting area will consume a large fraction of the square footage of your classroom, so it is important that it is designed to be a multi-functional space.

What factors should you consider when planning your class meeting area?
  • Determine your purpose(s) for gathering the students together. 
  • Assess the room for any permanent fixtures (such as outlets or a mounted interactive board ) that will need to be taken into consideration. 
  • Think about both the number of students in your class and the typical physical sizes of the students at your grade level to know how much area they will need to fit comfortably.


What is the purpose of a whole class meeting area?
This area will be a multi-purpose space, so do not hesitate to allot as much square footage as possible. Below are just some of the uses for the meeting area. Think about each as well as additional ways you may use a large space in your classroom. 
  • read aloud
  • morning meeting
  • whole class instruction
  • hosting visitors and guest speakers
  • welcoming guest readers
  • literature discussions
  • conflict resolution gatherings
  • a place for students to read lying down
  • an area for working on  STEM projects
  • building with blocks and Legos
  • puzzles
  • cooperative learning projects
  • playing games
  • math workshop activities

What furnishings and supplies do I need to set up my meeting area?
Many teachers include some or all of the following:
  • a chair for the teacher to sit on
  • a shelf to organize instructional materials
  • a large area rug
  • carpet squares or something to define student spaces
  • seating for the students (benches, chairs, etc.)
  • an easel or whiteboard
  • dry erase markers
  • chart paper and a place to hang an anchor chart
  • a timer
  • sticks with the students’ names written on them to use for calling on children randomly and equitably 
What if there is no shelving in my class meeting area?
You’ll want to have all of your teaching materials accessible when leading whole group lessons, class discussions, or reading books aloud to your class. If you are not able to include a built-in shelf or a bookcase in your class meeting area, you could utilize a mobile cart to hold your instructional materials. 

Another option is to use a plastic caddy or a tote bag that you can easily move around the classroom. Ideally, it should have pockets for smaller items such as manipulatives, markers, scissors, or anything else you’ll need for modeling activities. It should be large enough to hold teacher guides, lessons plans, printable student pages, and books.

What safety precautions should I take into account?
Make sure the meeting area you select is safe. All surrounding furniture should be secure and not be at risk for tipping if a child leans against it. Shelves should be free of heavy objects that could potentially fall. If the children will be sitting near electrical outlets, you may want to plug them with safety caps. Rugs should not be placed over electrical cords as the friction forms a fire hazard.

What other tips and ideas should I consider when setting up my class meeting area?
  • All children should have a clear view of instruction and of the pages of a book being read to the class.  This is a community area so the students should also be able to look directly at their peers when they are speaking.
  • If you have a smaller-sized classroom, you can save space by using tiered seating in your classroom meeting area. This design will allow all children to see the books you read and the lessons you model. Tiered seating can easily be achieved by having some students sitting on chairs and the others sitting on the floor in front of them.
  • Define personal spaces by using carpet squares, tape, pillows or chairs.
  • If your school and local fire codes allow it, you can make the area feel more personal by including a couch, pillows, rug, lamps, etc.
  • Have your seating area serve double duty by including benches that provide storage.  You can purchase sturdy wooden shelves and turn them on their sides to create a bench with compartments underneath.  This is a great option as it also provides a work surface for kids sitting on the floor during other points in the day.
  • Avoid storing items around the group area that children can access and play with when they are in a class meeting. If you have open baskets of math manipulatives nearby, chances are a student will turn them into a distraction.












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Check out the rain gutter bookshelves. 
What a great way to customize the space around the smartboard.

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  • blank book lists for you to record your own titles
  • printable reading logs for your students
  • print and go monthly reading challenge charts


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