Modern Play Classroom Makeover Reveal (Organizing and Setting Up Your Classroom on a Budget)

 This summer, my former principal asked if I would help her with a classroom makeover.  During teacher appreciation week, she gave away a classroom set-up and makeover prize to one teacher during a game she had organized.  Her goal was to set up this fifth grade classroom with simple tools to stay organized throughout the year.  The principal is AMAZING and paid for everything new out of her own pocket!  We had a budget that we stuck to and came in under by reusing and repurposing a lot of what was already there.  In this post, I will share how we organized and set up the classroom with students in mind while sticking to a budget.  We kept everything fairly simple for a clean, modern design.

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The first thing we did was clean and take everything off the board and walls.  It's nice to start with a blank slate.  

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Next, we started organizing all the things into sections and bins.  This is when you purge.  You have to ask yourself what purpose these things serve in your classroom.  Would you rather have that thing or the extra space?  I then started adding sticky notes to all of the bins so that I could make labels for everything.  Labeling all of your storage reminds you what is in that bin and gives everything in your room a space.  Students can then help you clean up each day and place everything where it belongs.

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We then set up the different students spaces.  She needed her desk area, student pods, a small group area with storage, the computer area, a spot for student books bins, an area for supply storage, and an area for math manipulative storage, as well as a spot for students to play games.  We made a section for each of those areas around the room.

I don't decorate the room until the very end, and I kept it super simple.  The principal asked for black and white decor overall with pops of rainbow color, since that's what the teacher wanted.  We kept it simple so it was manageable, and so that she could add anchor charts and student materials as needed throughout the year.  You also want to keep blank spaces around your room; you don't need to cover every wall and board surface.  This helps tremendously with student focus.

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The custodial staff painted the door and the closet door to match the front wall.  The curtain was made with some fabric that I already had on hand; I just hot glued the seams to wrap around the magnetic rods.


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I got this Better Than Paper bulletin board paper in black painted dots to use around the room.  It matches some of the border I used, which really tied the whole room together.  The paper is wipeable and super sturdy.  I just measured, cut, and hot glued it to the metal desk.  I used a solid blank border to frame it out.

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The teacher had lots of photos of past students.  She had them displayed, but the room had a lot of moisture in from the A/C unit, which was causing the photos to curl.  I decided to put them in a scrapbook for her.  Then she can just add to it as she get new photos of her new students.  I used these glue dots to attach the photos to the paper.

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She had these chalkboards in the room that we used to attach photos of her friends and family to with clothespins.  We put these behind her desk.

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This is her teacher desk area.  She small shelf and the tall desk are both from Ikea.  She teaches from her laptop on the tall desk.  The stool was brown, and I just spray painted it with a high gloss black paint to match.

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All of the labels and the calendar you see here are from my Modern Play Classroom Decor set.  I used the black painted dots border on the smaller bulletin boards. The scalloped border went on the white boards and large bulletin board.  I would use more than 2-3 different types of border just to have a cohesive look in your classroom.

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Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

This is her small group area.  We kept it fairly empty and simple.  I think the stools are from Ikea.  

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This teacher teaches fifth grade science and math.  We designated this bulletin board for her science anchor chart and posters.  The pennants are from Modern Play.

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Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

This shelf will store any small group materials she needs.  The baskets can also be designated for each of her groups.  

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On the back wall, there was a lot of empty space.  I wanted to something that had a big impact while still looking neat.  The school has a poster maker, so they printed these Modern Play motivational posters for us.  I measured between each so that they were evenly spaced.  I framed them out in that same solid black border from the teacher desk.

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I laminated the posters, which made them too shiny.  I used this matte clear spray paint to tone down the shine.  I did three coats, which dry super fast.

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We did an affirmation station on the closet door.  This was just newly added to Modern Play.  The mirror is from Walmart. 

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This is my favorite spot!  There are wooden shelves here but I dressed them up with the scallop border.  Again, it ties the space into the rest of the room.  I used the same black painted dots paper that I used on the desk.  I hot glued it to the walls after measuring.  The lamp is from Target.

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It was tricky finding matching storage totes that fit the shelves.  I randomly found these grey ones at Pop Shelf.  We put the supplies that she doesn't need as often in these on the higher shelves.  The green Ikea bins will hold student supplies.  We wanted these to be easily accessible to students.

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

You have to keep student work displayed in your classroom, so we added this bulletin board.  These are just laminated labels attached to clothespins.  The teacher's last name is Cross, so I did lots of these trendy Swiss crosses around the room.

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The students needed book bins for their ELA class, so we used these from Really Good Stuff.  They are pricey but totally worth the investment.  They last forever!

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

These Ikea frames are great for easily switching out photos.  She can put photos of her new students in these and change them out throughout the year.

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This is the area where students can play math games during small group rotations.  The black rug is great for getting cozy during a game.  The math manipulatives are right there, too, for easy access.

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She had all of these great Ikea shelves already, so we just had to get matching bins.  The black bins are also from Ikea and fit perfectly.  One of her biggest requests was organizing her math manipulatives for her.

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These bins and the bulletin board borders were our biggest expenses in the makeover.  If you are about to purchase classroom storage, I would recommend going with something neutral like black or white.  You can add accent colors to the black and white, plus it just looks really nice and clean.

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

I really enjoyed working with my former principal on this project.  You don't have to go all out like some of the classrooms you see on social media.  Keep it simple and clean.  It will help with organization and creating a classroom environment.  I tried to link as much as possible in the post, but if you have a question, feel free to reach out on Instagram or by e-mail.  I don't always see the comments on here.  Thank you so much for reading along, and I hope you have a great year!


Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup

Looking through classroom decor themes? Check out this simple, modern decor resource, perfect for elementary, middle, or even high school classrooms! Click the picture to see all the pieces included! #classroomdecor #modernclassroom #classroomsetup






























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