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August 2, 2019 6 Comments


August 2, 2019 6 Comments
Classroom Makeover - Heart of the Class

Oh how I love summer days! There’s so much more time in the schedule for time with family & friends, yoga sessions, Target trips, patios and evening walks. Even with all that, I can still find time to work on classroom projects!


First up on the summer to-do list…my classroom jobs board!

Classroom jobs and I go waaay back and it’s been a rocky relationship! You see, first-year-teacher-me decided that I should have classroom jobs. (Important to note here: I started teaching in 2008. Pre-Pinterest, TpT, Instagram, and teacher blogs – or at least I didn’t know they existed yet). My jobs plan wasn’t stemming from any particular need. I had simply seen them in other classrooms so off I went to make a job board.

Actually a job TREE. A giant JOB TREE. Mmmmhmmm. My theme was monkeys (fitting as you’ll see in a moment). Soooo, what goes with monkeys? Bananas!! Yuuup, I loaded that tree up with bananas with jobs. I created enough jobs so that EVERY child would have a job each week.

That tree took me forrrreeevvver. As did explaining all the jobs to my new first graders. The first few weeks went rather smoothly. Until, I started hearing, “Hey! I already did that job!” on Monday mornings.

Going Bananas

UGH! I had NO SYSTEM for rotating the monkeys. As you know, our little ones take these things very seriously soooo I had to take the time to try and sort it out each week. It drove me BANANAS!!!! In every sense. Let me tell you, taking that banana tree down was therapy. Lesson learned. The hard way.

Fast forward to now. I’ve dabbled in jobs but found that creating and maintaining the job chart didn’t tend to be worth the effort most years. I had reduced the number of jobs after the Great Banana Fiasco of 2008 but it was still a hassle to manage. Channeling my inner Marie Kondo (before I even knew who she was), it wasn’t bringing me joy so I got rid of them entirely!

I’d happily come to terms with my decision to scrap classroom jobs UNTIL I realized that there were parts of the day that were a constant source of grief…lining up, taking attendance to the office, desk duty.

Since I didn’t have a system for choosing helpers, it would become a chorus of “Pick me! Ooooh me! He JUST had a turn! I NEVER get picked!” While I have ‘Lucky Duck’ sticks for choosing volunteers during learning activities, I didn’t want to mix the two.

That would leave me to randomly choose helpers and my choices usually didn’t go over well. 1 happy child. 19 disappointed children. Not the odds I’m looking for ;). Soooo, cue the return of the classroom jobs system but with a small difference this time…


Classroom Jobs Board Numbers
Numbers for the classroom jobs board: no monkeys on clothespins this time!!!

One of the reasons I avoided the job chart (among many….cue the banana tree flashbacks) was the amount of time it took to set up. With all the things we have to label and prepare, creating another set of laminated name cards for the job chart never made it to the top of my priority list.

So I’ve decided to use a number system. I’ve experimented with using students numbers over the years but never fully committed to the system. I struggled with how impersonal it felt to assign numbers to my little first graders. BUT I also don’t want to have to create name tags for the job board every year either.

My compromise is to present my first graders with their numbers in a way that makes it fun & special. I’m thinking a big NUMBER REVEAL day and some follow-up activities. Stay tuned!! I’ve got some awesome ideas swirling around in my head which I’ll share once I actually make them happen ;).

Back to the job chart…I found this tin plaque at Walmart for $4 and it’s exactly what I needed! In fact, I should’ve grabbed a couple more as they’re great quality and could have so many uses in the classroom.

Tin Plaque for Classroom Jobs Board
Tin plaque from Walmart makes a perfect Classroom Jobs board!

And now it looks like this:

My simplified Classroom Jobs Board!!
You can see it in my shop by clicking on the photo!

I laminated and glued magnets on the back of the number circles.

The magnetic numbers store perfectly on the back of the board when not in use! No extra baskets or containers needed!

I use two colors because I teach in an Immersion program and have 2 classes.


I Can Cards in IKEA Tolsby frames
Visual reminders of goals for my first graders!

We talk about goals A LOT in my classroom! It’s important that my kiddos realize that everyone is working on something! It may be academic, social or behavioral. It’s important that we talk about these goals openly because I want my kiddos to support, encourage and celebrate each other. Some of my absolute favorite teaching memories are of my little ones celebrating one another for accomplishing a goal!

I decided to pull out the IKEA Tolsby frames that had been sitting in my cupboard and I created these I CAN cards. They’re perfect for displaying visual reminders of goals and they don’t take up too much space on desks. Yay! They’re a freebie in my tpt shop and you can grab them by clicking on the photos.

I CAN Student Goal Cards
Never too young for goal-setting!


Classroom Mailbox Before and After Spray Painting
Before & After: Classroom mailbox refresh! The magic of spray paint!

Spray paint is one of my favorite ways to freshen up older classroom items. It’s amazing what a difference it can make! Funny story about this mailbox. It was actually on its way out of my classroom. I’d purchased it many years ago when I taught Kindergarten and it had been relegated to the depths of my classroom closet.

During my end-of-year decluttering, I decided it was time for us to part ways. I put it out on the table in the ‘donate pile’ and my first graders started asking all kinds of questions about it!

It had some blank envelopes and index cards in it and they had a blast playing with it for the last few days of school! Now I just had to keep it!! My wheels started turning about how I could use it in my classroom next year. It could be used for Love Notes about acts of kindness, I Wish My Teacher Knew notes, or letters from our new classroom mascot (whom you’ll be meeting soooon)!

While it’s future isn’t clear yet, it has a fresh new look and I’m in looove with this color!!

Krylon Ballet Slipper Spray Paint Classroom Mailbox
Krylon Ballet Slipper spray paint works it’s magic!


As you may have seen in Part 2 of my Classroom Makeover series, I’m updating my classroom word wall this year too! I replaced the washi tape before heading home for the summer so it was time to get to work creating letter and word cards to match my new Calm & Cozy decor. I created 2 styles of letter cards but I keep flip-flopping on which one to use!! Good thing I’m not responsible for making any important decisions these days!

I just can’t pick one! Let me know in the comments what you think!!

I use a color system for my first grade word wall so the words are grouped into sets of 20. Once I finish introducing a set, we do quick assessments and then move on to the next color. This system has been amazing for differentiating during centers because my students can play games with the color set that they need to review.

My color-coded word wall words! Still have to laminate and add magnets….getting there!
Classroom Word Wall Color System
Word wall words are organized and ready to go!


Before I get to the fun little purchases I’ve made, here are a few other projects that have kept me busy!

Big Lots Magazine Bins
My Big Lots bins now have labels! They will be my Reading & Math Centers.
Classroom Schedule Cards
New cards for our visual schedule!

Full disclosure here: I have not been consistent with updating our class visual schedule for the past year or so. During our morning meeting I always give my firsties an overview of our day but I’m making it a goal to keep the visual schedule updated too.

Maybe I should make myself an I CAN card?! “I CAN update the schedule.” 🙂

To make it a little more fun, I created these little cards to highlight special events and to draw attention to changes in our regular schedule. I’ll place them beside the schedule cards. Maybe they will keep me motivated?!

Classroom Visual Schedule Cards
Jazzing up our daily schedule!!

A new number line is also in the works…debating whether I trust myself enough to cut these with scissors or if I should wait until I have access to the paper cutter. #bigdecisions

Classroom Number Line - Pink and Blue
Our new number line…to cut or not to cut. That is the question!

Here are a few goodies that I picked up for my classroom!

Pink Stools from Five Below
Sweet little stools from Five Below! They had gray too!
Fancy Command Hooks
Ummm…I did NOT know that they made ‘fancy’ command hooks!
Shiplap paper
Some shiplap paper from Michaels…45% off. Can’t argue with that!
Classroom Lightbox
I FINALLY got a lightbox! So many ideas for this…can’t wait to use it this year!!

Okay, here comes my absolute favorite purchase! My class is getting a mascot this year and it took me a while to find one. And I’m in loooove already! Are you ready to meet our new yeti?!?!?

Classroom Mascot arrival
Peek-a-boo! Ohmiword. Even the packaging was adorable! Came with the sweetest note too!

I ordered my yeti from Melissa at warmpersonality on Etsy. And I couldn’t be happier!! It arrived quickly and everything made me smile…from the ‘infused with love’ stamps on the box, the beautiful packaging to the sweetest, handwritten note from Melissa.

And then it was love at first sight…

Classroom mascot - stuffed yeti
The picture just can’t do him justice!! He is soooo soft and adorable! Looooooooveeeeee

I know my first graders are going to fall in love with him too! Now I just have to figure out a plan for his big arrival! And a name… hmmmmm! I’m not sure YETI 😉 Any suggestions?!?!

With love, from my classroom to yours,

Heart of the Class - Donna Signature
Heart of the Class

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  • Audrey August 6, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    I enjoyed reading your classroom makeover journey. Your new mascot is adorable!

    • Heart of the Class August 7, 2019 at 10:49 am

      Hi Audrey!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave those kind words! I can’t wait for my first graders to meet him 🙂

      Have a great day!!

  • Kimberly Reyna August 17, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    I’m moving classrooms and teaching 2nd instead of 3rd grade this school year. I had a new theme (for decorating) in mind and I started buying supplies over the summer. Then, I stumbled upon your page and I got re-inspired. I returned what I had and am following your calm and cozy color scheme. I cannot wait for you to put up the entire collection on TPT. I love it all! You’re style speaks to my soul. If you don’t mind, can you tell me what font you used for the numbers on your jobs chart? I want to use them elsewhere in my classroom. Please keep the updates coming and have a great year!

  • Ashley August 19, 2019 at 2:39 am

    Love to see final result. Are you on Instagram

    • Heart of the Class August 20, 2019 at 5:46 am

      Hi Ashley!

      Thanks for stopping by! I recently started an Instagram account 🙂 You can find me here:

      I’m away on holidays right now but I’ll be able to get into my classroom beginning next week so I’ll be sharing updates and the final result soon 🙂

      Have a great day!

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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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