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CLASSROOM MAKEOVER – PART 2: Gathering & Dreaming

July 11, 2019 30 Comments

CLASSROOM MAKEOVER – PART 2: Gathering & Dreaming

July 11, 2019 30 Comments
Classroom Makeover - Heart of the Class


Exciting news!!! I’m in the process of planning a complete overhaul of my classroom for next school year (2019-2020)! I’m inspired and have a new vision for how I want my classroom to look and feel. (You can read more about my motivation for the makeover in PART 1 here). Right now I’m in what I call the ‘dreaming and gathering’ phase. You can follow along here on my blog as I bring my vision to life!!

Last summer, the move to downsize from a house into a cozy condo in the city meant getting rid of lots of stuff. It felt amazing to simplify and I’ll be aiming for the same in my classroom. Fortunately, I didn’t get rid of everything that didn’t have a ‘home’ in my new condo. There were a few items that I still loved and held out hope that I’d eventually find a use for them.

And then it hit me! Why not bring them into my classroom? Duh!!! Why didn’t I think of this sooner?? They fit with the new ‘Calm & Cozy’ vibe I want to create in my class so I packed them up and off to school they went!

Ducks in a Row - Beginning a Mega Classroom Makeover
My sweet ducks in a row are off to their new home!
I’ve got quite a few ideas swirling around in my head for these little guys!
Cushions and lamps from home for new classroom makeover
Pillows, vases, and lamps oh my!! No room in the condo but they’ll ‘cozy up’ my classroom nicely!


My classroom makeover began with figuring out which colors I wanted to use as the ‘canvas’. Colors can evoke a variety of feelings and sticking to a few main ones can create a cohesive look for a classroom. Since my goal is Calm & Cozy, soft pastels mixed with some natural wood/shiplap mixed in are my choice.

Classroom Color Palette Calming Pastels
Once I saw these images I knew this was the color palette for me…all the heart eyes for these colors!

You can find tons of inspiration on Pinterest or by clicking here to visit the Color Palettes site (which is where I found these beautiful images). When I first started looking at palettes, it became clear that the pastel colors were the ones that appealed to me the most. If you scroll through some palettes, you’ll probably see that your preferences become clear quite quickly!

I collected mine on a Pinterest board so I could easily refer back to them. All the love to Pinterest! That’s another great place to find color inspiration…just type ‘color palette’ in the search bar and you’ll be flooded with all kinds of beautiful color combinations. You can be more specific too by typing in things like happy color palette, bright color palette or calming color palette.

Classroom Color Palette using Pinterest Inspiration
Pinterest tip: once you click on a palette you like, Pinterest will show you a bunch of similar palettes below it. This is what came up below a pastel palette pin that I clicked on! Pinterest does all the work for you!

Another way to pick a color scheme for your classroom is a trip to the local teacher store (or online too since it IS 2019 afterall ;). I’m old school so I like to go in and see all the options in person! Once you pick a couple of borders that you like, you can base your classroom colors off those. Easy-peasy!!!


I did something I’ve never done before…made a trip to the teacher store in JUNE!!!! Mmmhmmm…see how dedicated I am to this classroom makeover?! Now here’s the amazing thing about shopping for borders at the end of the school year – NOBODY else is as nutty as you and you get the whole place to yourself!!!! AND everything is fully stocked!!

Shopping for borders in June…soooooo many options!!

I’d done a lot of research online prior to my teacher store excursion so I had a pretty good idea of which borders I wanted to snag for my new room. Admittedly, I did second guess myself a little once I saw ALL the choices hanging there in front of me! In the end, I stuck with my original plan and I’m so happy I did! πŸ™‚

Loop de loop and Blush Scallops borders from Creative Teaching Press

Amongst the chaos of packing up my classroom for yet another year, I did manage to find the time to redo a couple of my bulletin boards (mainly because I was in looooove with my new borders and couldn’t wait to see how they looked). If you’re anything like me, this seemingly small endeavor can turn into a loooong process…getting those borders straight and even becomes a little bit of an obsession for me. Taking that task off my plate before heading out for summer felt amazing!! Here’s the result:

Black and white bulletin board with blush and blue. Creative Teaching Press Loop de loop and Blush Scallops borders.
Voila! Fresh new bulletin board!
Loop de loop border and blush scallop border
These colors make my heart happy!!

I even replaced the fabric background on my boards this time. If you haven’t tried fabric instead of paper on your boards, I highly recommend it!! So durable, doesn’t get all wrinkly in the humid weather and you hardly notice the staple marks on it. The fabric on my boards had been up for at least 6 years and still looked great! One of my teacher friends even took hers down, washed it, and put it back up. πŸ™‚ My fabric is a set of the Mainstays brand bed sheets from Walmart. Affordable and does the job perfectly.


I’ve found washi tape to be an amazing tool for creating a word wall grid on a whiteboard. The color options are endless and it’s also very forgiving when you need to adjust it. My current word wall was made with washi tape about 6 years ago and it’s held up beautifully! Except we lost a letter somewhere along the way this year…

Classroom Word Wall Grid made with washi tape
My old word wall served me well for many years but it’s time for a little update! The case of the missing F continues…

As soon as I spotted this aqua washi tape, I decided to tackle the project of replacing the tape on my word wall and updating the letter cards. This one will even include an F. #teachergoals

Aqua washi tape for word wall update!

The process of measuring and getting the tape straight the first time took forevvvver! I may not remember much from setting up my classroom years ago but the pain of THAT task (and centering my alphabet) has stuck with me. To save myself the headaches, I came up with a little procedure that went like this:

I marked the current lines with a whiteboard marker before replacing the tape (not going through that process again!!!). When I started to try and peel off the tape, it was tearing into small pieces and I quickly realized this might turn into another neverending task. I guess when washi tape sits on something for 5 or 6 years, it wants to stay there!

But wait…I got out my trusty Goo Gone (aka miracle worker) and used a paper towel to rub it along the current tape and let it sit for about 15 mins or so. This made a BIG difference in how easily the old tape came off. Then I just lined up the new tape and DONE! *Forgot to take an after pic but you’ll get to see it once I add the letter cards.*


Storage is KEY in my classroom and I’ve spent many hours searching for bins and tubs that will be a good fit for our supplies AND withstand daily use by my little first graders! Hands-down my favorite bins have been the plastic magazine holders from Big Lots. They are perfect for our center materials and my current bins are still going strong after 5 years. Only problem? They seem to be a seasonal item and it’s been tough to find more of them.

Sooooo you can imagine how excited I was when I found them online this year!!! AND in colors that are a perfect fit for my new classroom design! Oh HAPPY DAY! I’m even tossing around the idea of replacing my current classroom library with these. Stay tuned as I’ll be dedicating an entire post to the amazing uses for these bins. In the meantime, how beautiful is the robin’s egg blue color?!?

Big Lots Magazine Bins - Aqua bins
Big Lots magazine bins are my all-time favorite tubs!!!


Another find that I’m excited about?? These small plant pots from IKEA! They were on sale for 99Β’ each…regularly $2.49! #IKEAforthewin

What am I going to do with all those pots you might be wondering…well they are going to replace the cups that I have on the desks. Supply management has been a HUGE issue in my classroom for the past few years. Our school board no longer allows us to provide supply lists to our students so very few of my students bring their own personal supplies. This was a big change from when I first started when most kiddos had their own pencil cases and they just kept them in their desks. I’d always give a pencil box and supplies to any of my little ones who didn’t bring their own. Supply management was a non-issue really.

Fast-forward and now most of my class uses the communal supplies. I’ve been experimenting with how to manage this fiasco situation for years and finally found something that worked!!! I hot glued a cup on each desk. It holds 2 pencils, an eraser, a glue stick and scissors (well, we work our way up to being able to have glue sticks and scissors in there ;). I choose a volunteer to check all cups to make sure they still have their supplies before dismissal.

Cup glued on student desk to hold supplies
A cup is glued on each desk to hold basic supplies!

The crayons were the only supplies that weren’t in the cups. I kept those in cups which were placed in baskets. Since my desks are in groups of 4 or 6, the groups would get a basket and each kiddo would take a cup. It worked okay but I was trying to find a better system. Great thing about these new pots is that they’re a little larger and a container of crayons will fit in them. No more shared crayon baskets. Woohoo!

So that’s all for now…I have a few projects underway which I’ll be back to share soon. I’ve also been designing a bunch of decor items to go along with my new Calm & Cozy vibe and it’s starting to come together. In MY head at least! Until next time

With love, from my classroom to yours,

Heart of the Class - Donna Signature
Heart of the Class

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  • Sahily July 16, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I am curious to know where you found the magazine bins you could no longer find at Big Lots.

  • Lisa July 17, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing!
    I’m in the process of creating a calm & rustic like classroom this fall. I took my room apart in June & need a makeover!πŸ˜‰

    I may try the fabric bulletin board this year you suggested.

    Keep sharing!

    • Heart of the Class July 17, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      Hi Lisa!
      Thanks so much for your kind words! So exciting that you’re in the process of a classroom makeover too! Loving all the ideas I’ve seen for rustic classrooms! I’m definitely a huge fan of the fabric bb. I bought a roll of shiplap paper the other day only because I couldn’t find it in a fabric πŸ˜‰ Wishing you well on your classroom makeover journey!!

      • Lisa Strojny July 18, 2019 at 2:54 pm

        Hi Donna,
        Where do I find shiplap paper?
        Thanks Again!

        • Heart of the Class July 19, 2019 at 9:14 am

          Hi Lisa,
          I got mine at Michaels but I’ve also seen them on Amazon…just search for shiplap bulletin board paper. They even have shiplap contact paper which looks pretty neat!
          Have a great day πŸ™‚

  • Olivia Wilde July 17, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    This is EXACTLY the color scheme I want to do for my new classroom of firsties! I can’t wait to see what else you do!

    • Heart of the Class July 17, 2019 at 7:05 pm

      Hi Olivia,
      Oh yay! That’s so awesome!! I’ve been wanting to use these colors in my classroom for a while now so I’m excited that it’s finally happening! I’ll be sure to post my progress as I go πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  • Lynne July 17, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Do you happen to know if the Big Lots magazine boxes would fit hanging files?

    • Heart of the Class July 17, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Lynne,
      I haven’t tried it myself but one of the top reviews on the Big Lots site is from a teacher who got rid of her filing cabinet and uses these bins for the files now. She sounds really pleased with the switch! Here’s the link if you want to see the review (it’s at the top as the most liked positive review):

      Hope that helps!

  • Kalia July 17, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    I have nothing but love for the colors you’ve chosen!

    • Heart of the Class July 18, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Awww, that’s so sweet, Kalia!! Thanks for stopping by and sharing some kindness πŸ™‚ xo

  • STLbehnen July 17, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    It was fun seeing that you are using Loop de Loop too! FYI they have on their site labels, nameplates, calendar numbers and a blank calendar chart.
    I am starting back in the classroom for the first time in 18 years of being a math specialist. In my room I have three walls of white and one accent wall in bright teal. So my colors are black, white and teal. My bulletin boards were painted the same color as my accent wall, but needed repainting or I would have covered it to. As a result I have the border and then whatever I wanted on the board. It really brings it all together. I was also able to paint the bookshelves in that color. Anyhow another possibility! Thanks for sharing your stuff! Enjoying it!

    • Heart of the Class July 18, 2019 at 9:32 am

      Oooooh, I’ve been looking for a new calendar and never thought to check for one in the Loop de loop style! Thanks so much for the tip! How exciting for you to be returning to the classroom! Your room sounds absolutely beautiful. Love that you have an accent wall too! We’re not allowed to paint our walls so I do what I can with the bulletin boards πŸ™‚ Wishing you a wonderful year back in the classroom!

  • Tori July 18, 2019 at 12:28 am

    This is adorable! Where did you get those little blue baskets you have on their desks?

    • Heart of the Class July 18, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Hi Tori!
      Thanks so much πŸ™‚ I got them in sets of 3 at the dollar store a few years ago but haven’t seen them recently. The plastic cups that are sold in packs at the dollar store or the IKEA packs of children’s cups work well for this. The main thing is to find a size that works for you and a FLAT surface on the bottom that will be flush with the desk so they’ll stay put with the glue..learned that the hard way πŸ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Melissa Hamilton July 19, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    What type of sheets/color did you get? There are so many choices!

    • Heart of the Class July 20, 2019 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Melissa!
      I bought the Mainstays bed sheets from Walmart. It was a little while ago but I’m pretty sure I went with a double set (flat and fitted sheet) and it easily covered two large bulletin boards. I used Mainstays last time too and they held up well so I stuck with them πŸ™‚
      Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Mrs. Cromwell July 20, 2019 at 11:00 am

    This year im obsessed with honey bees. Last year my theme was rainbows. This year my cookies are yellow, black, white and lilight blue for the bed wind maybe. I thought I was the only one planning super early. Next year I’l try calming colors like yours. They are so beautiful. I can’t wait to see your hrand finale!

    • Heart of the Class July 20, 2019 at 11:00 pm

      Ooooh, honey bees are always a darling theme! So many fun things you can do with them!! I decided to start early this year so I could work on projects at a leisurely pace in the summer. Hopefully it will make things easier when I go in to set up my room!! Thanks for the kind words and best wishes for a wonderful school year!

  • Jan July 27, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Beautiful, but I’m curious about glue gunning the cups on the desks; how do you remove them if necessary ?

    • Heart of the Class July 27, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Hi Jan,

      The trick is rubbing alcohol! I remove them at the end of the year and the rubbing alcohol makes it so easy. I pull the cups off first which leaves the glue behind on the desk. Then I soak a cotton ball in the rubbing alcohol and dab it around the edges of the glue. After a few minutes, it comes right off without damaging the desk! This year I used the large Gorilla glue sticks in a high-temp glue gun and they came off without any issues πŸ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!

  • Bri July 31, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Will you share other resources you find? Specifically, schedule cards?

    • Bri July 31, 2019 at 11:23 am

      Also are the cups on the desks glass or plastic?

      • Heart of the Class August 1, 2019 at 8:04 am

        Hi Bri!
        The blue cups are plastic and the new pink cups from IKEA are metal. They’re sturdy so hoping they last a long time in my room πŸ™‚

    • Heart of the Class August 1, 2019 at 8:01 am

      I sure will! I’m creating most of the resources for my room myself so it’s taking a while. I’m working on my next post now and I’ll include photos of what I have so far…including the schedule cards πŸ™‚

  • Rebecca August 18, 2019 at 8:50 am

    You did an amazing job with your classroom makeover! Where did you get your ducks in a row? Those are absolutely adorable!

    • Heart of the Class August 20, 2019 at 5:38 am

      Hi Rebecca!

      Thank you so much!! I got the ducks many years ago at an outlet store. I’ve had a few people ask about them so I’ll post a link here if I find something similar πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful school year!


  • Lynn August 20, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Great post, thank you!
    Where did you find your boarders?

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    Hello! Welcome to Heart of the Class! I'm a teacher who has found a happy home in first grade. Creating fun and engaging activities for my little ones is a passion of mine and I'm happy to have this space to share them with you. Let's grab a cup of coffee (make that Turkish...mmmm) and hang out for a while! Read More

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