Monday, April 30, 2018

Classroom Design Challenge: Planning Your Classroom Setup and Decor

This will be the home page for the 7-task classroom design challenge that will help you plan and create the classroom of your dreams!   Be sure to sign up to get started! 

Background Information: 

Why I started this challenge: Even though I'm a high school teacher, I have always loved decorating my classroom because I believe that the environments you surround yourself in (home and your home away from home) have the ability to affect your mood, mindset, and quality of life. Over the years, I had built up a homey and welcoming classroom, but in 2017, my classroom when from...

While I cried at the sight of it, I’m now thankful that I was forced to completely clean out my room before leaving for my sabbatical. I’m thankful because it gave me a chance to have a fresh start and design a classroom of my dreams! 

Since I have found myself designing a classroom from scratch, I thought why not share my designing process with other teachers who are looking for classroom design inspiration as well! Thus, this 7-task challenge was born. 

If you would like to sign up for this FREE AND FUN challenge, subscribe here: 

While I will be posting tips within this blog post, you will want to be on the email list because that is where I will send you the worksheets, templates, and challenge tasks! If you are late to the party, the emails will come in order so that you can catch up. :)

Classroom Design Task 1: Clear the Clutter 

When you sign up for the challenge, you will get this decluttering worksheet to print off and help you on your decluttering mission. This worksheet goes along with one of my most popular posts: 

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Classroom 

Classroom Design Task 2: Pin Palooza 

Did you know that pinning gives you the same hit of dopamine as actually buying things? That's because studies show that it's the anticipation of a reward that increases dopamine levels rather than the actual reward. This week we are going to have lots of happy anticipation without spending a dime! Make sure you are signed up for the design challenge to get my pinning tips! If you would like to see my classroom inspiration board, you can find me on Pinterest @BuildingBookLove

Classroom Design Task 3: Notice and Note 
Now that you've pinned your heart out, it's time to notice and note what you are drawn to the most! Which pins stand out or create a pattern of repetition? Take note. This is the style you are drawn to because it keeps showing up again and again. After noticing what you are attracted to the most, now is the time to delete the duds. Just like with decluttering your classroom, you must delete the visual clutter from your board (or start a new one) so that your board has only the BEST of the BEST.

Classroom Design Task 4: Mood-board Mania 
After noticing and noting, it's time to narrow down your design even more by creating a mood board for your classroom design. You can create one of these very easily in PowerPoint! I have a video within my email handouts that teach you exactly how I made the mood board above. Making a mood board is easier when you find a lead piece to start your design. Can you tell which is my lead piece in this picture? Hint, I found it here: SpoonFlower. This one specific piece helped me make all of the other choices for my design! Be sure to sign up above to get help with choosing a lead piece! 

Classroom Design Task 5: Floorplan Formula
Creating a classroom floorplan that you can see in 3D is a lot easier than you think! I have a five-minute tutorial for you that shows you how to use to get a to-scale rendering of your classroom design plan. But before you start playing with that, be sure to do your research first! 

Here are some great classroom design articles to help you begin your research: 
Flexible Seating Paradise by Cult of Pedagogy

Classroom Design Task 6: Blank Wall Brainstorm 

One of the biggest design challenges for classrooms is deciding what to do with HUGE blank walls. There are basically only three ways to overcome this design challenge which you will learn about in this task!

1. Keep your walls blank. This is an actual classroom design theory.  I personally don’t like this option for all of my walls, but if you like the peace that blank walls provide, then keep them blank!

2. Use LARGE art installations. Large murals can be very pricey, but there are ways to accomplish this without busting your budget. Here are some things you might not have thought of:
*Use a shower curtain as art (must see picture to believe this one)
*Use paint or premade rolls to create a large chalkboard or large scale stripes
*Use large prints as posters (more on this below)
*Search Pinterest for DIY Large Scale Art 
* Look for a cheap tapestry 

I made a poster and had it printed onto a $3 engineering print. The “wand” is a $5 curtain rod (a free stick would have worked as well) and the pages were free. So for $7 I made a HUGE wall statement. 

Here I used book WRAPPING PAPER from Spoonflower  and stapled it to my walls. If you have cinderblock, I recommend either using dabs of hot glue or taping painters tape exactly where you want the paper and adding hot glue to that then the pressing the paper around the edges. I also recommend only using wrapping paper in low traffic areas. For the sign in the middle, I made a poster in the exact size I needed then used Publisher to break it into squares. I printed out onto 20 sheets of printer paper that I taped together to make one large poster (FOR FREE!)  

If you want to learn how to create posters for your classroom, this will teach you how!

3. Use small pieces grouped together to create one cohesive display.  One small poster or item on a large wall looks out-of-place, but when you group smaller items together, you suddenly have a chic display. For example:
*Small posters grouped together 
*Small mirrors or clocks grouped together
*Small papers grouped together to create a large geometric shape (think paper flowers or multi-color squares.)
*Small clipboards grouped together to display student work 

Classroom Design Task 7: Actually Take Action  

Now that you have your plan ready to go, it’s time to take action and make the classroom of your dreams happen! Since I’m not a fan of spending my summers in my classroom, I plan on actually implementing my design within a week (and I did!). Having a concrete plan (which you already have!) will make your design come together in no time! All that’s left is the figuring out how to fund your classroom design.
Here are actionable steps to take:
1. Make a list of the items you need and sort them from most important to least important.
2. Take that list and divide it. Make one column “likely to get donated” and one column “unlikely to get donated.” For example, if you were to create a Donor’s Choose request asking for a rose gold desk organization set, that would most likely not get funded. However, if you made a request for lamps to help create a welcoming and peaceful classroom environment, that would be more likely to get support!
3. Make a budget for the side of the list you will be funding yourself. Start buying from the top down (most important to least important). 
4. Set up FB Marketplace notifications (or any service like this) for the items you need so that you can catch deals that come up. Go to yard sales: Yard Sale Finds for Your Classroom .
5. Post your mood board and floorplan on social media asking friends and family if they have anything that fits your design.
6. Write a Donor's Choose or grant proposal. Remember your RHETORIC! Use pathos to appeal to emotion (talk about why your students are deserving), logos to appeal to logic  (bring in the research), and ethos to make yourself trustworthy and deserving (explain the type of educator you are/want to be). 

7. Finish designing your own posters and get them printed or start searching for art that will fit your design. 

I would LOVE to see your classroom before and afters! Tag me on any social media @BuildingBookLove

****Update*** I'm now ready to give a tour of my finished classroom! You can see it here: High School Classroom Tour


  1. This was me last August! I find starting with a blank slate can be so inspiring. I will definitely be following along. Maybe I'll take on some mini-projects for next year ;)

    1. My mouth fell open when I looked at your room!!! It’s gorgeous!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I AM SO EXCITED! :)

  3. Can't wait for this! I love designing my classroom each year, but I'm struggling with what to do! I want a refresh!

  4. Jennifer SanchezMay 3, 2018 at 10:01 AM

    Looking forward to the challenge. Currently, I am the Literacy Coach at a middle school had have been given the task of designing an ELA resource room. Can't wait to get inspired!

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  6. I am moving to a new classroom next year, so the timing of your challenge is perfect.

  7. Thanks for doing this, Ashley. I'm packing up my room right now and moving to a brand new room in a new school and need ideas!!

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  14. I love both your and your husband's classrooms! I am doing your design challenge and have just about everything ready to be installed into my classroom as soon as I am allowed to go in there. Anyway, I have a quick question about hanging my tapestry. I noticed you bought a tapestry from Amazon for your husband's classroom, and I was wondering how you hung that up, like the materials you used. You may have said that in your Instagram story, but I don't remember. I want to hang my tapestry similarly, thank you so much for being such a huge inspiration to me this year!

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