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Making The Most of Your Classroom Walls

Four walls, a ceiling, a floor, some doors, and if you're lucky, a few windows.  These are the bare bones that make up the majority of our classrooms.  It is your creativity, dedication, and passion that makes it an environment that cultivates learning.  Today I want to take a moment to share how I manage wall space in my classroom to encourage independence and routines,  as well as reinforce key concepts.

I have tried using one giant word wall to include all of my sight words and vocabulary, but I have found that my students had a hard time sifting through all of the cards to find the ones they wanted to use.  Also, they were often just words, and didn't always help connect vocabulary to content.  This year, I chose to have content area walls that we add to and change throughout the year, and I LOVE THEM!


Like I didn't have enough on my plate, last week I tore down my math wall and decided to start over! My old math word wall cards were adorable. They used really cute clip art and fun fonts. However, I came to the realization that I only had them up because I liked them {insert gasp and dreaded feeling of being a horrible teacher!} To a student, these cards were probably very distracting and were not helping them learn and remember the vocabulary.

It was time for a math wall renovation! I started working on new math word wall cards with my students in mind. I teach in an inclusion classroom with a high population of ELLs, so I really wanted to make the vocabulary as accessible as possible. This is where the idea for visual math word wall cards came into play. Here is what my math word wall looks like now!

I combed through the Common Core State Standards to include ALL of the vocabulary FOR EACH GRADE LEVEL K-4! It was a labor of love, but it was a must have for my students. You can grab a set for yourself [HERE] or on the image above.


I actually don't have a lot of wall space in my meeting area. A SMARTboard was installed over my blackboard, which is great for helping us move into the 21st Century, but it pretty much removed ALL of my meeting display space. I had to be really selective with what I put up, and what I made into interactive files on the SMARTboard.  

Here is part of my meeting area. I only kept my calendar, how many days we've been in school, our quote of the week {courtesy of Blair Turner from One Lesson at a Time,} and our framed meeting rules.

Some items that now (and from when I taught first grade) have gone into interactive files include:
  • INTERACTIVE CALENDAR (with the weather, days of the week, number of the day…etc.)
On the other side of our SMARTboard are our class rules and our daily schedule. 

I made one of our classroom jobs to change the schedule at the end of the day.  I had to find a way to be organized in a way that is accessible to students. Since our schedule changes slightly every day of the week (because we don't have a block schedule), it made sense to make separate schedule cards for every day. This way I could include the time (Math is at 9:00 on Monday, but 8:20 on Thursday), and a visual image for all of my students that need a preview of their day, as well as those who rely heavily on picture support. 

I used binder clips and some Avery labels to help my students be independent in changing the schedule.  To my delight, it's worked beautifully!


This is the area where I monitor where student's are in their writing process, but rather where we keep record of elements of writing and techniques we have learned throughout the year. Right now, we have "tips" from various stories, including Gooney Bird Greene, but also some techniques that we want to remember to incorporate in our writing. 

Writing is involved in nearly all parts of our day, so I love having it as a permanent feature of our classroom.


This year, I let my students help create our anchor charts to post on our Social Studies wall. I loved watching them go through their texts and pulling out vocabulary, ideas and concepts that they deemed important. They don't take up much space, but the students are now personally invested in the information that they present.

I also let them design them!  I guess they have an obsession with Kimberley Geswein's Fonts too!

Can you tell that we are studying structures?!? Good! I think it's important that someone can walk into the classroom and know what you're studying without having to look at your lesson plans! Right now, we have an example of our science journal entries, our key vocabulary, and some ways we have started categorizing our ideas. We will being to add our key understandings and big ideas as we progress through the unit. My goal is to keep it clear, simple and accessible!


I like to keep some key ideas that my reading groups are working on behind my teacher table. It's great to be able to turn around and have the visual reference there to support the strategy we're working on. Here, we're studying non-fiction text features, and how they support our understanding of informational texts.

These posters (and accompanying activities) are available in my TpT Store if you wanted to snag a set for yourself!


I can't help but show off Rachel Lamb's Genre Posters! I love them, and have them on display above the shelves of my classroom library! They are beautiful and informative at the same time.  

Now when we start a new book in our reading group, students will often run over to the wall and point to the genre they are about to read.  When I have to move classrooms again, these will one of the first things to go up!


It's important to consider what goes on your doors, because sometimes they're open and sometimes they're closed.  This means that they need to be relevant items, but things that don't need to be regularly accessed.  

On my closet door, I have our classroom job chart and our "NO NAME" work board.  These are things that need to be displayed in our classroom, but not essential to curriculum, so doors are the perfect option!

I also keep our center boards and pocket charts on doors.  Pictured above are our literacy centers.  I have the same set-up for our math centers on another door in our room.

This is the front door of our classroom.  It is not the most beautiful color, but we've dressed it up a bit with a cookie sheet that helps me visually see where my students are during the day.  With all of the incredible support services my students receive, it's important for me to be able to know at a glance who is out of the room at any given time.

The "Where Are We?" chart comes from the one and only Sara over at The Colorful Apple.  It's especially helpful for service providers to see where we are, in case we have deviated from our regular schedule!


Finally, I have found that windows, particularly window shades, can be a great place to display student work and anchor charts.  I have been known to hot glue clothes pins to my shades to easily switch out the displays (don't worry, they peel right off the material!)

However, my friend Nicole over at Why Pencils Have Erasers has found a brilliant use for her window shades!  Her classroom set up is quite unique, having 3 of her 4 walls mostly windows and open shelves.  However, she has made the most of her space and utilized every inch beautifully!  If you're feeling the pinch like she was, take a tip from her Word Window!

She's a clever one isn't she?  Make sure to check out her new blog!  She's a talented writer and brilliant teacher.  I can't wait to see what she shares next!

Thank you all for stopping by!  I would love to hear from you about how you utilize your space :) Happy Weekend!


  1. O.M.G. schedule cards for each day!??!?!? SMARTEST IDEA EVER!!!!!!

    1. Hey Hadar :) Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet! It was definitely an idea born out of necessity, but it's working! {THANK GOODNESS!}

  2. Replies
    1. Oh Annie! Thank you so much :) It's my home away from home!

  3. Replies
    1. Haha! If it's not organized I can NEVER find anything! It's more out of necessity than looks, but I do love the sight of a stack of neatly labeled bins!

  4. Hey Jillian! What a darling classroom!! I love it =) Your blog is a wealth of goodies!! I had a quick question for you. If you have a chance do you mind emailing me Thanks!!
    A Burst of First

  5. Thank you for your sweet words Deirdre! You have officially made my day!

  6. I would love an explanation of how you manage your math word wall. I looked through your packet and you have a lot of words, I'm assuming you don't continually add to the wall as the year goes on. Do you switch out the words after each unit? How does that work? Thanks for creating them, they are awesome!

    1. Hi Samantha! It actually depends. I use a guided math model, so many of my students are being introduced to vocabulary at different times, so there are always a lot of words up on the wall. I am fortunate enough that my math wall is magnetic. That way I can remove them during small group lessons to discuss them in more detail, and then return them to the wall when done. By the end of the year I have nearly all of the words up, aside from a few words that no longer seem as critical. This makes it very different from my Social Studies or Science Walls, where the vocabulary is unit-specific. I hope this helps!

  7. I love the schedule cards for each day of the week. I have the same pocket chart. I visited your Tpt page but did not see your schedule cards for sale. Do you sell them?

  8. I love the schedule cards for each day of the week. I have the same pocket chart. I visited your Tpt page but did not see your schedule cards for sale. Do you sell them?