How to Set Up a Preschool Classroom

Setting up your preschool classroom doesn’t sound that daunting… at first.

But, year after year I find myself determined to find the perfect (as if it exists) flow. After changing my mind about a billion times, I usually land on a setup that seems to work for me, but (more importantly) is conducive to little learners that learn through play.

Maybe I’m just weird… but, the thought of drawing out a diagram with all my centers and such is super exciting. Sometimes I want to just jump right in!

But, I’ve found that creating a successful layout isn’t just me drawing squares and labeling them on my ‘map’. Making the environment conducive to my little preschoolers takes some planning.

Here are the steps I now take to map out the physical space in my classroom:

  1. Inventory the furniture: Yep, I really do. What pieces of furniture do I have to use for centers? Tables? Shelves? Pull Out Drawers? Tubs?

  2. Decide on the areas needed: Which centers will I have this year? I need a carpet area for whole group and circle time. I also need a large table for snacks and small group. I need a quiet/calm area. Oh, and I need an area for my things.

  3. Considerations: I take the list of areas I need and decide if any considerations need to be taken when planning where to put them. More about this below.

  4. Draw it out: Then, I draw it out. A map of my classroom. I analyze it (like 5,791 times) and when I think it is just right- I bring it to life in my real classroom.

Considerations to take when setting up your preschool classroom:

  • The NOISE Factor: How noisy is each center/area? If it’s the block center, drama center or a music center it is going to be loud! How about areas that encourage calm and quiet? Like the library, calming corner or a listening center. Those noisy and calm areas really shouldn’t be in close proximity.

  • The POPULARITY Factor: Which areas of the room or centers will most likely be the most popular? I can tell you from past experiences that the Drama Center, Art Center and Block Center are by far the most favorite places. Therefore, I try to make those centers larger in size.

  • The SUPERVISION Factor: When you are sitting down with a small group at the table, can you visually see children playing in all the centers? Or, is there a blindspot? For safety and supervision reasons you want to be able to see everything. No back to the kids!

  • The BOUNDARY Factor: Children know no boundaries…anyone that has had a little hand on their bum knows this. So, they certainly will not know where the specific centers begin and end. Make this easier by either using tape or by sectioning off using furniture.

  • The PROXIMITY Factor: This really relates to centers. Are there any centers that need a close proximity to you during free play? If you are doing a small group lesson at the table, which centers might need your assistance the most? For me, it’s the blocks and drama.

  • The SPACE Factor: How much space do you really have in your classroom? If your answer is ‘not much’, then maybe a mobile center might work. My playdough center is actually a rolling cart that students can bring over to our main table (I model this). I don’t need an extra playdough table - which is saving space. Another idea is to combine centers. Math and Science easily lend themselves to a combo center. Last year, I combined my alphabet center with the library… all the activities for the alphabet center were calm and quiet so it worked.

  • The RACE TRACK Factor: I saved the best for last! You know how sometimes when you thought you had the perfect set up, but you lacked seeing the circular path you created? Well, children will see this circular pathway and race around it as fast as they can. Running + Kids + Confined Spaces = no bueno. Don’t be like me- check the race track factor.

I know, I know- that is a long list of considerations… but trust me here- every last one of them is important.

Does this process seem daunting? Did I just suck the fun out of your classroom mapping?

I’m sorry.

Let me make it up to you….. introducing the How to Set Up a Preschool Classroom Workbook!

Work through this puppy and you’ll have the perfect (well, maybe just ‘better perfected’) classroom flow. (Plus, when you sign up you get the Guide to Preschool Center too - bonus!)

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