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My classroom transformation!

Hi friends! Thanks for joining me today on this blog post of my classroom transformation. I want to talk about how I went from a color crazed teacher to a natural look teacher, and what it has done for me and my classroom. Why am I sharing this is March? Because if you are like me, you need a lot of time to think about the upcoming year and taking the plunge on changing up your room. My hope is that this will give you plenty of time to change things over.

I have been a teacher since 2009. I have been in the classroom the entire time, teaching students to the best of my ability. I remember my first classroom that I had. It was a shared room with another teacher and we co-taught together. The classroom was darling and we had a cute look going on. It wasn’t themed but it was appropriate for the young students. In 2012 I went into my first classroom alone. My theme? COLOR. COLOR EVERYWHERE. I LOVED that classroom. Then something happened. I wanted to change all my walls to white. So, I did. I kept all the boarders but I changed all the boards to white fabric. It made the room bright and brought a sense of cleanliness to it. Then I met Tina. Tina is my sister from another mister. She is a TK teacher in the Catholic school system. We are a rare breed! I was so excited to reach out and say HEY GIRL! and when I did, I had NO idea what I was going to get. Tina has helped me SO much with my classroom transformation and I have her to thank for a lot of the ideas. She is a Natural Classroom Specialist and loves to help teachers create a space that is going to help students learn best. So let me stop talking and start showing how Tina has helped me.

The classroom before the transformation

When I walked into my classroom for the first time, this is what I saw. It was even less than this since I have already hung the paper balls and a few bulletin boards in the back. It was a blank slate to start with and I was EXCITED! I could not wait to get into that room and all ALL. THE. COLOR. Now, I am not saying that color is a bad thing at all. But looking back to how I did it, I can see how it was overwhelming to those little kiddos that walked it the first day.

Before the Natural Classroom Photos

I made sure to document my room each year to show off everything that I was doing and how proud I was of the work. I am still proud of the room that I created and the space that I made my own. There is not one year that I would have changed the way that anything looked. The room throughout the years has reflected myself as a person and what I love.

kindergarten-classroom

Here is my classroom as a whole. I still have most of that furniture in the room it is just placed in different areas. After my first year I bought a new rug for the class. I remember that I bought that rug for $200 and I was SO excited to have found it for that price. It was a steal from the usual $579 that it is. I drove over an hour away to get it. I was over the moon when I was able to bring it into the classroom. And those chairs? OH those chairs! I LOVED the orange chairs. Unfortunately as my class size began to grow I was unable to keep them because I wanted a matching set. I now have navy chairs that go really well with my natural class design.

In 2016 I went all in with the color. I also decided that chevron was a really good idea so I needed to bring that in EVERYWHERE also. I loved the color scheme that I was going for, and that blue fabric was a great color pop. In fact, I think that the blue could still be used in a natural classroom since it is a primary color. Again, I am NOT the expert, that would be Tina. She is who you want to talk to! As you can see I was all about the color and the zebra and the chevron. Basically if it had a pattern I was going for it. I think the zebra was my way of saying I had a “natural classroom”

I also decided that I wanted to bring in black for a more “natural” look. Done right this can be awesome, but I was NOT doing it the right way. I was just picking all my favorite elements and colors and going with it. I decided this year that I wanted to have a bird theme classroom and so that is what I did. It was a darling theme and it was the first time that I decided to go with a theme for the room. I still enjoy the small elements of this theme. The small blue birds I made for the class jobs could be incorporated back into my theme I have now, but I have not done that.

One last switch before the natural classroom

I decided that I was going to switch up the classroom for the second time in 2017. I had been reading about a Reggio classroom and how to bring the natural elements in and so that is when I changed all my boards over to white. There was no more color on the bulletin boards. It really did brighten up the classroom and I felt like it was more me. The students also did a great job not touching the fabric and getting it dirty, something that I was worried about. Changing over bulletin boards is SO tough but I knew that if I wanted to get the look I was going for, I had to do it. So I tore them all down and went for it. Now, that is not to say that my classroom became “natural” Here is what it looked like after the wall change:

So the color was gone on the walls, but I still had all the crazy colors for the boarders. I used various colors for the books that I had as well. I did love this classroom look. I really did. And I remember reaching out to Tina and literally asking her “So what happens when there is no rainbow colors in the classroom?” I thought that my sunshine would go away. She assured me that it was okay to be nervous to make the change but once I started to do it, I would love it. Guess what? She was right!

The new and improved natural classroom

So do you want to see what I did? Well first let me tell you a little bit about WHY I did it. I am apart of Make Your Mark with Kayse Morris and I have met some amazing women in this group, Tina being one of them. As a mentioned before she is a TK teacher and Catholic which are two things that are a rare breed. I reached out to her when I saw her classroom space and wanted to learn more. We communicated through Instagram and she provided me with so much insight on how to make my room a place that is calming and welcoming. Honestly I feel like my classroom is now my second home. It truly has the feel of home and I have Tina to thank. NOW let me show you all my hard work!

kindergarten-classroom

The first area of the classroom that I tackled was my desk. I had the desk painted this teal color a couple of years ago and so I knew that I wanted it to stick around, However, I moved it up against the wall so I could utilize my classroom space to meet the needs of the students. And lemme tell you, my desk NEVER looks like this. I think that might be the next scary step I make, getting rid of it! The shiplap paper on the walls makes a huge difference though. It used to be a gross brown color. You can see that on the bottom.

If you believe it, this used to be the calendar wall! The wall that was blue with the wild zebra chair in front of it! I opted for Better Than Paper for this shiplap since it is durable and withstands students.

kindergarten-classroom

One of the coolest things I did in the room was this contact paper on the counter space that I have. I found it at Lowe’s but you can also get it on Amazon here. It was pretty inexpensive and a great way to spruce up the classroom. I also had to keep my Harry Potter plates because who doesn’t need a set of cat plates on the wall in their classroom?

Natural Classrooms with Color

When speaking with Tina she let me know that there are a few different types of natural classrooms. You do not always have to go with the natural wood looks. However, that is also an amazing look! I chose the mint boarders in my room to be the pop of color that I wanted for my room. I also added this faux greenery and it looks amazing!

kindergarten-classroom-natural

A few more looks at the Natural Classroom

As you can tell I do not lack in the picture department when it comes to my classroom. I want to share with you a few more ways that I bring the natural and pastel colors into my classroom to make it a warm and inviting place.

Kindergarten-classroom-natural
This area is to the left of my smart board. On the far right is the birthday board.
rae-dunn-kindergarten-classroom
My birthday board! It is Rae Dunn inspired since I am DUNN OBSESSED!
kindergarten-classroom-natural
This is my calendar area. We touch on calendar very briefly each day.

So there it is! My beautiful classroom. Here is something about me as well: I try very hard to manifest what I have and why I have it. So I am not afraid to say that I have a beautiful classroom and I deserve it. I am changing the lives of little humans in there and they also deserve a space that is welcoming as well as calming for them.

What steps can you take for a natural classroom?

If you want to get started with a natural classroom I suggest that you head over to Teach The TK Way and discover Tina for yourself! She has a wonderful guide to help you get started, and she is friendly as well and here to help. Check her out!

I love to collaborate with other educators so if you are interested in doing a guest blog post please let me know! Email me at: Erin.merrill@gmail.com so that we can chat!