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Setting Up Your Classroom Library

It's that time of year again! While school is out, teachers are busy thinking up a classroom of their dreams for a fresh start come September. I'm happy to share with you how I set up my classroom library. I've received many questions about where I purchased the products I use in my library and I hope to answer them by sharing some links with you. I hope you feel inspired to create a special space of your own by the end of this post!

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I receive a small income each time someone makes a purchase using some of my links, which helps to support the blog.



Reading is such an integral part of first grade! Not only is first grade when students progress through the most reading levels, it's vital in establishing a love of reading! In order to instill this passion in my students, my goal was to create a safe, comfortable and most importantly, an inviting space for my students. Each year, it's clear the library is their favorite spot in the classroom!

BOOK BINS FOR YOUR LIBRARY

Book bins have been by far the biggest investment in my classroom! My second year of teaching, I chose a color scheme (brights on black) and decided to invest in a significant number of bins and I couldn't be happier! Since that year, I now have bins with all the same colors. I know how pricey they can be and how much it can add up, but I truly believe a well organized library makes such a statement in your classroom! My advice to everyone is when you find a color and style that you like, buy in bulk!



Really Good Stuff is home to some of the most durable bins! Not only do they have a variety of colors, they have many styles and sizes to suit your needs. The specific title of the larger Really Good Stuff bins used in my classroom is the "Book Baskets, Large Rectangle With Label Holders - 5-Pack Neon." I also use the "Durable Book And Binder Holders With Universal Label Holders - 5-Pack Neon " tall book bins, turned backwards. This particular style is good for maximizing space, while maintaing a clean and organized look.  



In attempt to add a budget friendly element to my space, I purchased a large number of book bins from Dollar Tree. Unfortunately the colors and specific style I use in my library are currently no longer sold. Dollar Tree does tend to switch the color schemes and styles pretty frequently so I recommending checking their website on a consistent basis. As of now, their "Colorful Square Slotted Locker Bins with Handles" are closely match to my style and color scheme. However, they are significantly larger and more square than those seen in the picture.

FURNITURE FOR YOUR LIBRARY

The next most important investment would be your shelving. It allows your books bins to appear neat and organized. I suggest white to make your color scheme really pop! The two larger white shelving pieces in my library happened to be in my classroom when I started teaching at my school. I truly believe they are hand built shelves from many years back that I painted white. However,  I have had to add additional furniture to accommodate my growing library.



When shopping around I found two options that I loved. I have purchased white shelving from Amazon that you can find here, as well as a similar model from Walmart. The Amazon shelving price was teacher budget friendly and includes a 2 or 3 shelf option, allowing you to adjust it to the height of your choice. This was perfect when accommodating to different book bin sizes. 

In addition to shelving for the books bins, I have seen teachers use unique furniture pieces to create a unique reading space. The reading bench found in my library is actually a vertical cube organizer that is laid down on it's side to create a horizontal bench. It can be found here online at Walmart for $50. It is the "Better Homes and Garden 4 Cube Organizer" and is also available with a 3 cube option if you're tight on space. I find it to be very sturdy; strong enough to hold at least 3 or 4 adults. It also doubles as storage and organization for my "teacher only books" (a.k.a. my mentor texts and read alouds). When purchasing the bench online, it includes the option to add fabric bins for the cubes. They come in a set of 2 and are perfect for all your storage needs! 

BOOK BIN LABELS FOR YOUR LIBRARY

Now that you're familiar with suggestions for where to purchase your book bins and shelving, you'll need gorgeous labels to jazz things up! Many of you have already asked me where I have purchased the book bin labels seen in many of my Instagram posts. You can find the library labels in Maria Gavin's store here on Teachers Pay Teachers. She is the genius behind Kinder Craze. It includes themed, seasonal, leveled (DRA, AR and Guided Reading) and editable labels in your choice of black or white. The product details in her store include an in depth explanation for how to customize labels and download matching fonts. Maria is so professional and so thorough that any product you purchase from her will be amazing!


I strongly encourage you to print the tables on white cardstock and laminate them for extra durability. This will prevent the edges from curling or fraying. You can find the cardstock that I used here on Amazon. It includes 250 pages for only $10! 

If you haven't already treated yourself to a personal laminator, I highly recommend it! It's perfect for finalizing projects like this! I use a Scotch laminator that you can find on Amazon here for only $29, which also includes 20 bonus laminating pouches. The package of 100 or 200 Scotch laminating pouches have been at an all time low this summer. Check out their new low prices here to stock up! 


Maria has shared that she uses hot glue to attach the laminated labels to the plastic bins. The hot glue does not melt the bin and is easy to peel off in the future incase you need to change the label. 


As if Maria's labels weren't perfect enough, there's also an extra special feature!! It includes a sticker template for each book bin label to print on Avery labels and place on the books in that bin. The picture on the sticker matches the picture on the bin label. This allows for continued organization all year long for both students and tea
chers. Her template is set up to print on Avery 5160 labels that you can find here on Amazon. 




I hope I was able to answer all of your questions and inspire you to begin shopping for your own library. If I happened to miss something, please feel free to comment with any questions below. Happy shopping! :)



Someone Special and Me

In honor of Mother's and Father's Day season, this year I decided to honor the amazing families in my class by hosting a "Someone Special and Me" event. Rather than purchasing a small gift for each parent, I decided to spend a little extra and make a memory instead. I'm excited to share scenes from our special event with you and answer any questions you may having in planning an event of your own! This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. 


When planning the event, I had my eye on Maria Gavin's Mother's Day Tea Party Printable Pack! I knew it would be the perfect editable resource to fit my needs for our special event. The colors were bold and bright- just my taste! I used her posts as inspiration for the decor and activities. It includes everything you would need in planning an event of this nature.

If you're looking for more information on how Maria used the pack in her own classroom, read her posts here



Each student was able to invite one special person to join us for our celebration.  The name "Someone Special and Me" allows the students freedom in who to invite- their mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle. I love how creative they were in their invitees. The editable invitation is included in the pack. It also includes as RSVP card for the special guest to respond. 


I suggest printing the invitation, as well as all the printables featured in this post on cardstock for durability. You can find it here.  I absolutely adore the editable banner. I printed, laminated and threaded the banner on yellow grosgrain ribbon found here. To make the threading easier, I used an "x-acto knife" and push pins to hold the tiering of each layer in place. I removed the push pins to tie the knot on each end. 


The Target dollar spot and party section were where I purchased all of the decor and paper goods. I wanted to stay consistent with the pinks, teals and colorful chevron print. If you keep an eye out, they often times have clearance on a significant number of their older prints and they make their way through seasons. I added some pizzaz by using the table cloth as a table skirt, colored paper as the table cloth and decorative doilies for a pop of white with the bold colors. 




Maria's pack also includes matching labels, place cards and tags of all sorts and sizes. 






To kick off the event, our class put together a short presentation for our guests. I took pictures of each student and created a slideshow of why their guests were special to them. The slideshow ran to the song, "Never Grow Up," by Taylor Swift. Cue the water works... I know. Thank you to one of my first grade teacher friends from college for the idea! :) 


After, the students completed a craft with their guests to take home. The canvas tote bags were purchased here. We used acrylic craft paint, although I am sure you could also use fabric paint as well. 







After completing the craft, students were able to enjoy refreshments and visit the photo booth. My high school intern and I (pictured below) assembled the photo booth. I assure you, it is not as difficult to create as it appears. We started by taping bright yellow paper as the backdrop and hung strips of streamers from the top. After, we hung balloons on a single fishing line for a decorative affect.







I hope you enjoyed learning about our special event. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out or comment below!