How to Set up a Classroom

back to school classroom setup Jul 26, 2022

By: Aja McNair

How to Set up a New Classroom 

Setting up a new classroom is much like setting up any classroom especially an elementary classroom. All elementary classrooms are filled with colors. But... There's SO much more that goes into classroom set up beyond classroom decor. 

In fact, if you set up your classroom WRONG, it can destroy your chance of having student success. Going even further, to have a SUCCESSFUL school year, your elementary classroom must have a reading classroom set up. This means that you should focus on three main areas as your set up your classroom. 

You might be thinking, “How do I set up a reading room?”. Well, let me tell you. To have the ideal reading classroom environment, you must focus on a space for whole group learning, small group learning, and independent reading. 

Classroom Setup: Whole Group Reading Area 

When setting up a whole group reading area, you want to think about the collaboration amongst students and promoting social interaction. You can group students in groups, pods or even rows. Just make sure there is someone nearby for collaboration. For primary grades, like kindergarten, you also want a place for morning circle. This tends to be done on a colorful rug. However you decide to place your student’s seats, just make sure that each student can see the board or wherever the focal point is, for example where you will stand or sit.  


Classroom Setup: Small Group Reading Area

Small group is such a special time. It is the time where you can REALLY make a difference in students with a smaller student to teacher ratio. Small group time allows you the opportunity to guide and help students even on a one-on-one level. When setting up your small group reading area, you want to use a table and place it in the back, side, or corner of your classroom. Somewhere that you can see all your students. Somewhere that is also away from the front of the classroom and the classroom door. This lessens the number of distractions during your small group instruction. The other key thing to add to your small group reading area are big and small posters to promote reading strategies and reading rules. If you’re teaching guided reading then you need to post these reading strategies to promote reading improvement.  


Classroom Setup: Independent Reading Area

Independent reading areas allow students to read books on their independent reading levels. It is the area where students get to fall in love with stories, characters, and authors. To create this environment, students need a cozy area where they can fall in love with reading in an uninterrupted space. To do this, you must set up your independent learning area in the back corner of your elementary classroom. This is typically the quiet spot of your classroom and will allow students to read with no interruptions.

To make the independent reading area feel cozy for students, add a bookshelf for books, a rug and flexible seating. Flexible setting includes things like bean bags, wooden chairs, stools, crates, and even pillows. Don’t just throw your books on the bookshelf, create a classroom leveled library. This will help your books stay organized and will allow students to easily find books on their independent reading level. Also, add posters. In fact, here are free posters to help students pick just right books.


How to Set up a Classroom Library

You can set up your very own leveled classroom library for independent reading by simply following these five steps.

Step 1: Get bins for your books to go in.

Step 2: Label bins with the Fountas and Pinnell reading levels. Range these levels from the lowest independent reading level of your students to the highest independent reading level of your students.

Step 3: Add décor to your reading level with rugs, flexible seating, & posters for picking the right book.

Step 4: Label your books. Go to book finder and type in the title of your book. Pick which book matches the title of your book. This will give you the book’s lexile level.

Once you get the lexile level, use a lexile conversion chart to convert the lexile level to the Fountas and Pinnell reading levels. This will give you the book’s reading level. Write this level on the book. If you want to just use lexile levels instead or reading levels, use this free lexile chart to help you determine lexile ranges and goals for students.

Step 5: Once your books are labeled, put them in the correct bin.

Classroom Set up Tips

Overall, if you follow these steps and tips, then you’ll have a place for whole group, small group, and independent reading that promotes reading achievement. Not only will you have an area for reading, you will be set up for a successful school year filled with student success in reading.




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