June 27, 2016

How To Make Your Classroom Feel Homey: 15 Easy and Affordable Ways

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As teachers, we spend a lot of time in our classrooms so why not make it your, “Home Away From Home.” We often worry about the comfort of our students, but what about you?! You deserve comfort too! I have found over the years that making my classroom homey has made me more comfortable and relaxed, which results in me being more productive and happy. Here are a few of the things I have done over the years to make my classroom my second home:


Furniture

1. Comfy chairs - I bought some comfy chairs. I got one from Target (pic below) and I bought a recliner from an old lady at a yard sale. Both have become quite welcome additions to my room. My students beg to sit in them and I sometimes let them depending on the situation. However, I really bought them for me. During my planning period, I have even been known to kick back in the recliner and close my eyes for a minute or two. GASP!! 



2. Rugs - I have acquired several rugs over the years. One I got from my friend at a yard sale & the other two, I inherited from my husband when we married. They are all 5 x 7 foot rugs & I use them to just soften the room. I have my favorite one under my teacher desk. I have another one under the computer desk I use to teach from and I have the third one under my podium where I keep my notes when I am teaching. Believe it or not, I have on many occasions read children's story books to my high school students (and they love it!) while they sit on the rugs. Even big kids like to sit in the floor sometimes! 

Decor

3. Pictures of family, friends, & students – I make a point to have photographs of my family & friends around my desk. It just makes me happy to see them & reminds me of the important things in life, which really aren’t things at all. I also make a point to have student cards and photos displayed, which reminds me of why I do what I do. I actually have a skateboard up in my room. This skateboard was given to me by a very special young man that is now off in the military. He brought it to me the day before Mother's Day & handed it to me saying, "Happy Mother's Day." I do not have biological children but he said he wanted to give me my very first Mother's Day gift because I was his second mom. As an avid skateboarder, he had taken one of his boards (without the wheels) and wrote me a letter on it. This is an item I treasure & it helps me when I'm having a bad day to look at it & reminds me of the difference I do make every day. Whether it is a picture of your baby (human or fur), a card from a friend with a sweet note, or a skateboard, display what makes you smile! 

4. Quotes - I am a big quote person! I love inspirational quotes so I have them all over my classroom. I have specific ones I love around my desk & ones that I want to encourage my students with in their areas. I am cheap because every year my mother gets me a Mary Engelbreit calendar (which I love) for my kitchen with her designs & quotes. At the end of the year, I take the calendar, tear it apart, laminate the months, & use them to decorate my room. They work perfectly & I have been doing this for 10+ years! (affiliate links below)



5. Colors - I also like to make sure that I decorate my room with my favorite colors. I made some curtains out of cheap fabric from Walmart that I loved & I took some contact paper in a design I liked to cover the top of my wooden desk (that looked awful). I like having vibrant colors that I love around me because it just makes me happy.

6. Candles & fragrance sprays - I'm not big on this myself because I have serious allergy issues but I know some teachers like to keep these in their class. I do have a couple of candles on my desk that I have never lit. I keep them there to smell when I just need a little something.  

Personal Items

7. Medicine cabinet – I make a point to have a small supply of medication on hand. There is nothing worse than a headache or coughing-fit while trying to teach. I have a little box that I put in my locked cabinet that contains those meds that come in handy like headache reliever, sinus/allergy meds, cough drops, stomach meds, etc. Also, after the 2014 Snowpocalypse that left many at my school spending several nights there (after 3 hours of driving less than 10 miles, I made it home!), I have also added a couple of my prescription meds for those emergency situations. 


8. Extra toiletries – as crazy as it sounds, I keep things like deodorant, a hair dryer, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, feminine products, a hair brush, etc. in my classroom. I have had to actually use them several times over the years. When your power goes out before you get your hair dried, you very much appreciate the hair dryer you stashed at work. When you somehow forget to put on your deodorant (believe it or not this has happened more than once to me & other co-workers), you very much appreciate having one in your classroom. As teachers, we have a lot on our minds so it is helpful to keep extras around.   


        9. A back-up sweater/jacket - you just never know when you will need or want it around. I also recommend having a place to hang it. I have a hook that is on the side of my bookcase so that I don't just throw my jacket on my desk chair, it actually has a place to hang. My neighbor uses those Command Hooks on the wall to hang hers up. The key is to have a back-up but to make sure it isn't getting wrinkled or dirty because you don't have a place to keep it out of the way. 

Appliances

10. Refrigerator – I bought mine many years ago & I am so glad I did. I love being able to keep cold water, condiments, sodas, etc. available so I don’t have to lug them back & forth from home with an ice pack. Also, it comes in handy if I never need an ice pack because I keep a couple in my little freezer at the top. I am a clutz and run into things quite often so an ice pack is helpful. 

11. Microwave – it is so nice not to have to stand in line to heat up my lunch. We only get 24 minutes from the time the kids leave the room until they return (and yes, I am blessed not to have to monitor them at lunch). I love during the winter to heat up soup or reheat my coffee, since I don’t think I have ever drank a cup of coffee at school without it getting cold first.

12. Keurig – I just bought this last winter & I have to tell you, GREAT purchase. I love being able to make coffee, tea, hot chocolate, apple cider, etc. whenever I want. I share a heating/air unit with my neighboring teacher & of course, it never lets both of us be comfortable. When she is burning up in the winter, we are freezing. So this enables me to get some warmth when I need it too.

13. Fan - I bought this amazing little fan because as I just mentioned, I share an heating/air unit, which means during the warm months (which in Alabama is most months of the year), I am burning up while my neighbor is freezing. This fan is known as the little blizzard & it sure lives up to its name. Love it! (affilitate link below) 



         Some of these appliances are a little costly, like the refrigerator, but think about how much use you   will get out of it. Also, you could always split the cost with a neighbor & take turns each year having it in your room. 


Miscellaneous

14. Extra food & paper goods – I like to keep extra food & paper goods available in my classroom for both myself and my students. I keep easy go-to food like granola bars, cheese & crackers, pop tarts, to-go soup, etc. I have been very grateful over the years that I keep these around when students come in saying they didn’t eat breakfast or don’t have lunch money (but won’t take money from me). A student may have too much pride to take my money but they will take a pack of crackers or granola bar. It isn’t much but it is better than nothing. I also keep paper goods so I don’t have to bring a lot of my dishes from home. I am bad to bring a loaf of bread & deli meat and fix myself a sandwich so a paper plate comes in handy. It may not be the most eco-friendly but it makes my life easier to be able to throw it away instead of bringing it home to wash.

15. Cleaning products - although I have awesome custodians, there is just no way they can keep things as clean as I would like for them to be when there are 150+ students coming in my room every day. I like to wipe down the desks regularly, spray Lysol spray, use dusters, etc. so I know things are clean. I can't live or work productively in a filthy environment and I think most people feel this way. I like to take time out periodically to make sure this is done.  



When students see all the things I have in my room, I often get the statement, "Mrs. Cullom, you could live here." I respond with, "I do!" So if you are anything like me, you spend a lot of time in your classroom. Why not make it comfortable and make life easier for you?! 



So have I missed anything? What do you like having in your classroom to make it feel homey? Are you allowed to have all the things I mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below.



10 comments:

  1. I love your blog and this post! ❤ I start student teaching next fall. I'm so nervous but excited. I hope to make my future classroom homey and cozy as well. My favorite class and teacher in high school had couches and a bunch of comfy chairs. It was truly a home with a coffee table, blankets, and curtains! It was a smaller gifted class so we were able to be more flexible. But just the way she set up her classroom made look forward to it. Another common thing I've loved in the past, is when teachers use lamps and christmas lights instead of the regular lights. Their classrooms were like a refuge from my other classes. So much calmer and relaxing! ...Although some students did want to nap more with the lights off ;) lol. I enjoyed reading your posts!

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  2. Tasiann, I am so glad you enjoyed this post! Good luck on your student teaching! If you ever need anything, feel free to come back & chat. I've been teaching for over a decade & have hosted several student teachers so I'm happy to help how I can!

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  3. Interesting! It sounds wonderful; however, our school district prohibits teachers from having any appliances (refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, fans) as well as upholstered furniture. Also, no cleaning products or candles. Fragrances are also frowned upon. Any fabric (curtains, rugs) must be sprayed with a flame retardant. So much for "homey."

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  5. Can you post pics of your comfy classroom? I'd love to see your ideas! Thanks.
    - Rose in NoCA

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  6. I have all of these! I WOULD add possibly a plant? It just makes the room seem not as stark.

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  7. I also use inexpensive floor lamps and strings of lights to make it bright and cheerful

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  8. Who ever wrote this article lives in a dream world. We cannot do any of those things. Kids trip on rugs, get lice on "comfy" chairs. Teachers are not allowed any appliances. We are not allowed any curtains, or anything hanging from the ceiling. I would love to make my room homey but regulations make it look like prison But I do have a sweater.

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  9. I have extra silverware, mugs, coffee supplies, dish soap, sponge, and strainer. Many plants on my windowsill and posters of beautiful artwork. I play music as well.

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  10. Medicine? I would be fired if I gave a kid a tylenol for a headache! I was also thinking the same thing about the chairs... lice! I also don't think of a refrigerator, microwave, and Keurig as classroom decor.

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