7 Essential Elements Every Elementary Classroom Needs (2022)

When it comes to the elementary classroom, it seems like every teacher has blogged, pinned, tweeted, and posted about their no-fail organizational lifesavers, foolproof filing systems, and picture-perfect classroom layouts.

But, just like every teacher is different and every group of students is different, every classroom has different needs too. Organizing the modern elementary classroom isn’t always as simple as slapping some cute printables on plastic shoeboxes and throwing them on a bookshelf. The 21st century elementary classroom is more dynamic than that.

(Video) 7-Essential Elements Every Elementary Classroom Needs

Before you head back to schoolto unpack your boxes and gear up for the new school year, consider these seven key elements that every elementary classroom needs to have to be successful.

Classroom Library

A classroom library is a must-have in any elementary school classroom. Not only do classroom libraries encourage literacy and reading for pleasure, they also provide a haven for students who need a little break from class without leaving the classroom.

Classroom libraries should feel cozy and safe for students, with comfortable seating so that students can stay focused on what they’re reading. Some teachers like to go all out and incorporate different themes to deck out their libraries, but if you feel like your classroom library decor could become a distraction, opt for a more traditional book-nook vibe. Use a soft (but easy-to-clean) carpet or rug to define your library space, and provide a little padding for students if they need to get on their hands and knees to browse the bottom shelves. Toss some comfy throw pillows or plush chairs in to make the area more reader-friendly.

As for placing your classroom library, try to position it somewhere that lots of natural light reaches, with shelves positioned so that students can browse the books without getting in the way of other students and without feeling rushed to pick out a book. If you can’t fit your library near a window, include some floor or table lamps in the area so that your little bookworms have light to read.

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Learning Centers

Learning centers are a great way to get your classroom up and moving during the school day, and they provide a more hands-on and personalized learning experience for your students. But, they can easily get a little messy. There are a million different ways to organize manipulatives, lessons, and materials when it comes to learning centers, so take time to find one that works for you. The key to keeping your learning centers neat and organized will be consistency.

Whether you decide to make a separate tub for every activity, stacked in neat plastic boxes, or prefer a method using modular drawers, make sure that you are using a consistent system to keep the areas organized. Chaos is guaranteed if your class must remember a different procedure for each area. After modeling and practicing the expectations for learning center setup, cleanup, and transitions, post them in each center to help students hold themselves accountable.

Flexible Seating

Flexible seating is one of the latest and most popular classroom organization trends. More and more educators are reducing (or, in some cases, eliminating) traditional seating in their classrooms to make room for seating stations students can choose themselves. These options allow for fidgeting, better focus, and more physical activity during the school day. Plus, flexible seating layouts can promote the kind of fluidity and adaptability a 21st century classroom needs.

Also, if it’s your first year of implementing flexible seating in your classroom, to make sure that you have a strategy for the first few days of school. With all of the chaos that comes with the first days and weeks of school, traditional seating might be a safe bet, allowing you time to explain classroom procedures for each new seating option.

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Word Wall

Vocabulary lessons tend to illicit more than a few groans from students, but they’re important, and they don’t have to be painful. A word wall is staple feature when it comes to teaching vocabulary in elementary classrooms. For younger elementary students, a nice way to spin the traditional word wall into a more engaging activity is to have students draw pictures representing the definition of the vocabulary or sight word. Coach students on how to use the word wall, and you’ll quickly see the “how do you spell” questions start to disappear. Your class will love watching the word wall change and grow as the year goes on and you add more words.

For upper elementary students, alter the traditional word wall to become a “root wall,” using roots, prefixes, and suffixes in place of vocabulary. You can still add a graphic element to this twist by having students illustrate words containing the root.

Supplies Storage

Finding storage for all of your classroom supplies, papers, project materials, and everything else can often be a daily struggle. When it feels like all of your classroom supplies and materials are taking over, what can you do to combat the chaos? There are many strategies that can help. Here are just a few:

  • Of course, there are always the traditional cabinets and shelves, neatly organized and labeled. If you’re in need of extra supplies, check around your school to see if there is anything unused floating around that you could rescue. Or, check out your local garage sales and resale options to see if there is anything you could use for extra storage space. Just be sure that when you organize, you’re putting supplies students might need to use in an accessible place where they can easily be found.
  • Having community supplies is a great way not only to teach your students about sharing and respecting community property but also to eliminate the need for individual supply storage. Instead, consolidate the class supplies your students will need to complete their assignments somewhere that all students can easily (and non-disruptively) access during class. Small table storage centers or one larger community storage shelf should do the trick.
  • You can also go the route of the ever-popular crate seat, which features built-in storage or take it a step further and throw an outdoor bench cushion across a horizontal shelf and call it a bench. In fact, many flexible seating options can double as storage space.
  • Going digital is another great way to clear away some clutter. It might take a few days to cull through all of your papers, and it may be harder than you think to part with some stuff, but once you have all of your files neatly organized and accessible digitally, you’ll wonder how you ever managed with all of that paper before.

Backpack/Student Storage

Having a place in the classroom dedicated to student storage will not only give your students a healthy sense of ownership over their learning, but it will also provide them with a space to store potential distractions during the day. Again, consistency and routine will be your friends when it comes to finding a system that works. Use labels to designate a special area for each student to put their coats, backpacks, lunchboxes, and other items during class time. If possible, have students store these items near the entrance/exit of the classroom—that way, it will be harder for students to accidently leave things behind when they rush out of the door at the end of the day. Use cubby storage as a place to keep students’ personal notebooks, folders, and other small personal items like library books. If you’ve already dedicated that storage space to something else, seat sacks are a great alternative.

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Technology Area

In the past, “technology centers” in classrooms meant maybe one or two bulky desktop computers that took 15 minutes to boot up and could only be used for the occasional computer game. Now, many classrooms include technology stations complete with cutting-edge mobile devices for students to share or, in some cases, for each student to use individually. If you are trying to organize your 21st century technology station in a classroom where space is already limited, make sure that you invest in proper storage for your devices. Avoid stacking any electronic devices directly on top of each other if possible or leaning them against one another. While it may take some time, effort, and money to pull together your classroom technology station, it’ll be way cheaper than replacing or repairing broken devices that were stored improperly.

Your creativity is the limit when it comes to organizing your classroom. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to keep open space for students to go about their day, and you may need to clean out things every now and again. But, with a little elbow grease and your passion for educating, you’ll be on your way to the best school year yet in no time!

Looking for a few extra tips clever classroom organization? Check out this blog post on 4 Key Elements of 21st Century Classroom Design!

This post was originally published July 2017 and has been updated.

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What is the most important element of a classroom? ›

The seating arrangement is the physical design of the classroom and it must be visually motivating for both teacher and student. The physical setup of chairs and tables is significantly important and effective in learning. Orderly rows are the most frequently used in the education system.

What is an essential element in education? ›

An essential element of education is to prepare and transition students successfully to the next round of their journey, for most graduates, tertiary study and then beyond, to the world of work.

What are the elements that make classroom conducive for teaching and learning? ›

Creating a conducive learning environment
  • Get to know the students by name as quickly as possible.
  • Get to know some personal things about each student.
  • Conduct a values analysis discussion about some current event or topic.
  • Provide positive comments when appropriate.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic when teaching.

What elements should be in a classroom? ›

7 Essential Elements Every Elementary Classroom Needs
  • Classroom Library. A classroom library is a must-have in any elementary school classroom. ...
  • Learning Centers. ...
  • Flexible Seating. ...
  • Word Wall. ...
  • Supplies Storage. ...
  • Backpack/Student Storage. ...
  • Technology Area.
1 Jul 2021

What elements are involved in an effective classroom setting? ›

  • 1 Classroom Design. Although often overlooked, the first element of classroom management is intentional design. ...
  • 2 Rules. Develop rules that foster respect, caring and community in your classroom. ...
  • 3 Discipline. ...
  • 4 Scheduling. ...
  • 5 Organization. ...
  • 6 Instructional Technique. ...
  • 7 Communication.

What are the 5 elements of teaching? ›

6 elements of great teaching
  • Content knowledge. This is when teachers have a deep knowledge of the subject that they teach and can communicate content effectively to their students. ...
  • Quality of instruction. ...
  • Teaching climate. ...
  • Classroom management. ...
  • Teacher beliefs. ...
  • Professional behaviours.
8 Nov 2017

What are the five key elements that should be included in the learning program? ›

There are five transdisciplinary skills students develop as they involve themselves in the learning environment.
  • Thinking Skills.
  • Research Skills.
  • Self-management Skills.
  • Communication Skills.
  • Social Skills.

What makes a successful classroom? ›


Students should be active participants. In effective classrooms, students take part in discussions, investigations, and experiments that broaden their knowledge and skills. Whether through whole group discussion, small group work, or independent practice, the majority of learning is student-led.

What makes a positive classroom environment? ›

A positive classroom climate feels safe, respectful, welcoming, and supportive of student learning.

What are the characteristics of a positive classroom environment? ›

Defining the characteristics of a positive learning environment:
  • Flexibility, openness, access to resources.
  • Design based on extensive research.
  • Overall quality.
  • All school facilities under one roof.
  • Spaces tailored to different ages of student.
  • Facilities built and adapted in response to curriculum development.

What is the most essential consideration that teachers need to effectively manage the class? ›

Giving feedback is an essential part of effective classroom management. It helps your students to understand the subject matter and guides them on how to improve their learning. If done correctly, it can improve the students' performance, self-awareness, and enthusiasm for learning.

What do I need in my first classroom? ›

First Year Teacher Essentials Checklist
  1. sticky notes.
  2. tissues.
  3. a timer.
  4. manual pencil sharpener.
  5. clipboard.
  6. stapler.
  7. binder clips.
  8. dry erase markers.

What are the 4 safe school elements? ›

School crisis and emergency preparedness training should encompass prevention/mitigation, early intervention (which is part of ongoing school safety), immediate response/intervention, and long-term recovery. These four phases are clearly articulated by the Departments of Education and Homeland Security.

What does an ideal classroom look like? ›

The ideal classroom is a positive place where a student can come to work toward specific goals set before them in the class objectives. The teacher is to be positive, organized, outgoing, confident, and compassionate. The instructor often sets the tone for the entire classroom.

What are the 3 most essential elements in the teaching/learning process? ›

Effective teaching involves aligning the three major components of instruction: learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities.

What is the basic element of effective teaching? ›

Effective teaching communicates successfully.

Effective teaching clearly articulates high, achievable and purposeful expectations. Students receive timely, substantive feedback in appropriate forms. Effective teaching adeptly guides meaningful course activities, allowing students to advance their knowledge or skill.

What are the five elements of inclusion? ›

Five essential elements have emerged in looking at inclusion: relationships, shared experiences, advocacy, a sense of identity, and transparency. Although treated separately in this paper they all intertwine and work together to energise the features Kugelmass (2006) identified as related to inclusive education.

What are 5 responsibilities of a teacher? ›

And by the end, you'll be able to enhance the quality of education you deliver to the students.
  • Mentor. During the formative years of students, teachers play the role of a mentor. ...
  • Mediator. ...
  • Resource House. ...
  • Morale Booster and Motivator. ...
  • Demonstrator. ...
  • Continuous Learner. ...
  • A Good Listener. ...
  • Participant.
1 Feb 2022

What is the most important work of a teacher? ›

Dedication. One of the most important parts of teaching is having dedication. Teachers not only listen, but also coach and mentor their students. They are able to help shape academic goals and are dedicated to getting their students to achieve them.

What are the four elements of the curriculum? ›

Curriculum is viewed and defined in terms of the four major elements: objectives, contents, instruction, and evaluation.

What should an early childhood classroom look like? ›

A good preschool classroom includes a block area, a dramatic play area, a science area, a library, and an arts area. At the beginning of each day, during what's called free play time, children decide which area to play in.

What are the 3 C's of classroom management? ›

As you consider some of your most challenging students or classes, think about your approach to classroom management through the lens of these three areas: connection, consistency, and compassion.

How do you create an empowering classroom? ›

Here are 10 tips you can use to help create a culture that makes learning a priority.
  1. Involve Students in Classroom Curriculum Planning. ...
  2. Give Students an Opportunity to Make Their Own Decisions About How to Present Their Work. ...
  3. Encourage Students to Use Technology in the Classroom with Meaningful Applications.
12 Jan 2016

What is the best classroom atmosphere for learning? ›

The atmosphere must be inclusive and trusting so students feel their views are heard and valued. Encourage high performance: Students should take risks, and teachers should challenge students with more work than they think they can handle, encouraging them to develop high-level critical and analytical thinking skills.

How do you create a focused and nurturing classroom? ›

How to Create A Friendly Classroom Environment
  1. Greet your students each day with enthusiasm. ...
  2. Provide students with time to share happenings, events, or items with you. ...
  3. Take the time on occasion to share something that is important to you. ...
  4. Take time to talk about differences within the classroom.
1 Mar 2019

What 5 factors make an educational environment welcoming? ›

What Are The Factors That Make A Positive Learning Environment?
  • Establish a supportive learning culture. Each member of the learning community should have the feeling of connectedness. ...
  • Address Learners' Needs. ...
  • Keep it Positive. ...
  • Provide Feedback. ...
  • Celebrate Success. ...
  • Safety. ...
  • Employ Interactive Games and Activities.
6 Apr 2018

How do teachers create a positive learning environment? ›

Promote positive interaction amongst your students. Allow them to share their feelings, and encourage them to listen to each other, give compliments, express gratitude and practice problem solving together. As teachers, we can present topics and help initiate discussions, but then let students guide the conversation.

What are the seven characteristics of an effective school? ›

The seven common correlates include: Clear school mission, high expectations for success, instructional leadership, opportunity to learn and time on task, safe and orderly environment, positive home-school relations, and frequent monitoring of student progress.

What is the importance of classroom? ›

Develops important personality and career building skills. Classroom teaching inculcates conflict resolving skills, presentation skills when it comes to presenting their ideas confidently in front of peers, develops team spirit and teaches them to get along with those from different cultural backgrounds.

What is the key to having a successful classroom? ›

The six keys identified to successful classroom management based on the concepts of the Process Communication Model are: (1) Know Yourself; (2) Know Your Students; (3) Examine Current Strategies; (4) Motivate by Type; (5) Develop Intervention Strategies; and (6) Create a Multifaceted Environment.

Why is it important to have a classroom management plan What are the most important elements that this plan should include? ›

What are the most important elements that this plan should include? A teacher needs to have a classroom management plan so that everyone can understand the types of behavior expected, and the consequences in case that behavior is not met. This allows for an efficient and safe learning environment.

What is the ideal classroom? ›

The ideal classroom is a positive place where a student can come to work toward specific goals set before them in the class objectives. The teacher is to be positive, organized, outgoing, confident, and compassionate. The instructor often sets the tone for the entire classroom.

What is a positive classroom environment? ›

Classroom climate refers to the prevailing mood, attitudes, standards, and tone that you and your students feel when they are in your classroom. A negative classroom climate can feel hostile, chaotic, and out of control. A positive classroom climate feels safe, respectful, welcoming, and supportive of student learning.

How do you build a good classroom environment? ›

Seven Strategies for Building Positive Classrooms
  1. Abstract.
  2. Make Learning Relevant.
  3. Create a Classroom Code of Conduct.
  4. Teach Positive Actions.
  5. Instill Intrinsic Motivation.
  6. Reinforce Positive Behaviors.
  7. Engage Positive Role Models.
  8. Always Be Positive.

What are the characteristics of a positive classroom environment? ›

Defining the characteristics of a positive learning environment:
  • Flexibility, openness, access to resources.
  • Design based on extensive research.
  • Overall quality.
  • All school facilities under one roof.
  • Spaces tailored to different ages of student.
  • Facilities built and adapted in response to curriculum development.

What are the five principles of classroom management? ›

Effective classroom management requires awareness, patience, good timing, boundaries, and instinct.

How do you create a simple effective classroom management plan? ›

Classroom Management Plan Guide With Examples
  1. Creating a Classroom Management Plan Table of Contents. ...
  2. Jot down your objectives. ...
  3. Define your learning goals. ...
  4. Specify your motivation strategy. ...
  5. Factor in school policies. ...
  6. Establish rules on discipline. ...
  7. Create a detailed plan for rewards and recognition.

What are the four components of classroom management? ›

According to researchers, classroom management is a core strategy for effective teaching, four components of classroom management were identified and analyzed, which included: rules and regulations, disciplinary interventions, teacher-student interactions, and mental sets.

What is your biggest fear as a teacher? ›

Beginning teachers are often beset with fears: fear of not being in control of a class, fear of running out of teaching materials, fear of feeling embarrassed in front of a class, fear of not being able to answer a question, fear of being observed, to name but a few.


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