This year, we finally made the leap and converted our guest room into a classroom! I’ve been planning our classroom out for some time now and when we finally decided what room we were going to use and how we were going to move things around, everything came together!
Ever since we decided that we would be homeschooling our daughter, I’ve been collecting supplies and educational items. Our family has been very supportive of our decision and have helped us out by purchasing educational toys and manipulatives for LC’s birthdays and Christmas presents. So for a few years, we’ve been hoarding items in closets, in the attic, and out in the garage and it has really paid off. Our classroom is exactly what we wanted and it is stocked and ready to go!
If you have seen any of my previous posts, you may be aware that we actually already have somewhat of a classroom out in our garage. It’s a great setup for the warmer months when the weather is perfect and we can enjoy the fresh area. This area is great for all of the messy projects our little one does! It’s also a great setup for letting our little one explore in her sensory bin, learn in her science corner, and just be a toddler 🙂 .
While we love our outdoor classroom, we also wanted a space that was inside and could be used all year round, no matter how cold, rainy, or windy it was outside. Our new classroom is absolutely perfect and we can’t wait to use it! I have spent months planning the layout of where things were going to go, what things would get the most use, which items are really worth the money, and most importantly, how exciting and inviting can I make this room for our daughter? I’ve also been planning so much to ensure that we get the most out of our budget for this space.
This is the before picture of what our guest room looked like. This room has served many purposes for us. From being a guest room for visitors to housing the dog’s cages. From being a storage closet for all of my craft items for my business to a video game room for my husband. The first thing we needed to address with changing this room was the guest bed. We couldn’t just get rid of the bed as my family comes in town quite often to spend time with us. I certainly didn’t want a bed IN our classroom with us. What to do? We decided that maybe this would be a great bed for our little one to use. Why keep her in a converted crib when there is a perfectly good bed in the other room?
She doesn’t seem to mind her new bed at all! My parents actually bought her a new comforter set for Christmas, so she was thrilled for this big change! We also bought a rail for this new bed, as we were a little scared of how high it was off the ground. We moved everything else around, did away with the dog cages, moved the video games, and cleared out the whole room!
Let the fun begin!
But before we tour and show off our new classroom…….
The title of this post mentions the word ” budget ” and man did I stick to it! Originally for Christmas this year, I had asked for a new laptop. However, when Black Friday came and my husband started to ask me what features I wanted…. I really had no idea. Long story short, I decided that my current laptop is just fine and it’ll make it a few more years… hopefully! Instead of a new laptop, I decided that I wanted that money to go towards something beneficial for all of us, especially our daughter. So my husband generously agreed to a $350 budget for setting up our classroom. Below I list the four things I did to stay on budget and get the most out of our money and thanks to these three things, I came in right at our budget!
To help us stick to our budget and get the most out of this money, I sat down and did four things.
1 Searched Pinterest and gathered ideas for our layout, classroom hacks, organization and storage ideas, and decor.
2 Created a layout of what we wanted our classroom to look like.
3 Searched for the best price on items that we needed to get the most from our classroom budget.
4 Saved up our money in Walmart’s Savings Catcher app.
First, I searched my Pinterest board. Since I’ve been planning our room for a while, I have been pinning like crazy to our ” Homeschooling Board “. I’ve been gathering ideas for our room, reading blog posts about what worked and what didn’t, and gaining inspiration. I’ve found some of my best hacks from Pinterest. Hacks that really saved us some money! For example, we wanted a way to display artwork and anchor charts in our room, but didn’t want to just tape these items to the wall. We found a cute way to display our items using a curtain rod and command hooks! This cute idea gave us a fun way to show off our hard work, but it also saved us from putting more holes in our walls! This display also makes the space it takes up on the wall to be a versatile one.
If you are currently planning out your classroom space, or any space for that matter, you had better being searching through Pinterest! There are plenty of “life hacks” to search through and tips from other bloggers that REALLY save you money, time, and headaches.
Don’t forget to also search Pinterest for free printables! We found dozens of printables for us to use in our classroom. Here is a link to a bloggers site where she features 500 free printables. I printed off so many different items just from this one site!
Second, I made a layout of how I wanted our room to be. Where I wanted furniture to be, how to get the most out of the space in the room, what would be the best way to store our items and still make them easy to get to, and so on. For example, we really wanted to have a space for large chart paper to be used, but we also wanted a large dry erase board. At first, I had planned on mounting our dry erase board to the wall, but then I realized that I wasn’t giving myself a versatile classroom and was taking up way too much of our wall space. So, through my planning, I realized that the easel I would be using for the chart paper could ALSO work for holding the dry erase board when we needed it. By planning everything out and going over and over these plans, I saved our walls some serious holes and gave us back some wall space! By planning out HOW I wanted our room to look and where everything would be, it really gave me an idea of how much space we actually had, what things we would need in order to start building our homeschooling area, and to stay ON BUDGET!
The third, and by far the most important, thing I did was search for the best price on items that we wanted and needed for our space. There were items that we didn’t have and knew that we needed, or wanted, for our room. So I started our search on Walmart’s site. For a few days, I searched for our materials on Walmart’s site and then added these items to our ” save for later ” list. After creating my list of items, I continued to search for the same items, but for better prices. For example, we wanted a tub of colored bears for LC to use. These bears are great for sorting activities, pattern activities, counting, and so on. The original tub I had found was about $17 from a school supply store. I continued to search Walmart’s site and I eventually found another tub of bears that included a set pattern cards for the same price! I then searched Amazon’s site and found THE EXACT same tub of bears with patterns cards for $12! By shopping around, I saved $5 on this item and now I have that extra money to put towards something else. When doing anything on a budget, it’s incredibly important to take that extra time and shop around!
The forth thing I did was keep up and save up our savings in Walmart’s Savings Catcher app. If you shop at Walmart regularly and don’t have this app, you are missing out! All you have to do is scan your receipt after you shop. That’s it! The app searches for better prices on the items you bought and then gives you back the difference. We have been using this app since it came out a few years ago and it has been so helpful for us. We save up our savings amount and use it when we need it for big purchases. We’ve used it to re-decorate our guest bathroom, paint and organize our garage, and have even used it to cover our grocery bill a few times. We had saved up about $55 in the app when it came time to start on our classroom, so we had that extra $55 to work into our budget. That extra money went to buying new crayons and markers, children’s scissors, notebooks, laminate sheets, and other classroom essentials.
These four things really did help us, but what also helped was having the support of our family AND the collecting of items of these past few years. Our family has always been generous in giving us educational items that could one day be used to aide in LC’s academic success, but they have also handed down furniture, storage bins, and other supplies. You can also search Facebook pages for your area, or Craigslist ( be cautious ), for cheap or free items that people are getting rid of.
Armed with my list, layouts, savings catcher money, and tips from Pinterest….. it was time to start putting everything together! Below you will find pictures of our room and specific details for each section of our setup. Enjoy!
Ta-Da!!! Our room is FINALLY clean and organized. It took 3 days to clear everything out, clean the carpets and walls, and move everything back in. All of our items are hung up and ready to go. All of our materials are neatly organized and easy to get to. We can’t wait to get to work and use our room. Let’s take a tour of each area in our room.
1 We purchased this cute ABC chart from the dollar store over the summer. If you are looking for items for your own classroom, I would be sure to check your local dollar store as well!
2 This adorable poster featuring the United States is an another item we purchased and threw in closet until we had a classroom space. We bought this item, as well as many other items, last summer at Target. Always be on the lookout for great items in Target’s cheap section by the front doors. They had A TON of classroom items last summer and we stocked up on a good amount of it.
3 Our pocket chart! We decided that we wanted a large pocket chart in our classroom that could be used for various activities. We actually found this one on Walmart’s site for a great price and it is hung up using command hooks! WE LOVE COMMAND HOOKS! You may notice the color cards that are hanging at the top of our chart. Since we are setting up a preschool classroom, we’ll be learning about all colors in our first week of instruction. This is another great idea from Pinterest. Simply go to Home Depot’s paint section, or even Walmart, and grab a ton of there color sample cards. Our color rings present various shades of a specific color, so we grabbed about 15-20 cards for each color. Punch a hole in each card and add a ring to get them all together. We plan on using these color cards for teaching all about colors and the different shades a color comes in, but to also use in our science center for finding these beautiful colors in nature!
4 Rather than using a storage cube or basket for our clipboards, we decided that we wanted them to be displayed and have a designated space for them on our walls. This way, they are easy to get to, but they can also be a create place to display work that we are proud of or to hold work that we are still working on. We used command hooks to hang them up under our pocket chart and are very excited to use them! Since I run my own business and shop for items frequently at Staples, I always have coupons to use at the store. Since I was in need of ink for our printer, we used a “$10 off a purchase of $30 or more” coupon, so we ended up getting our clipboards for free 🙂
5 Before, we had a large plastic container in a corner of our living room that stored all of our puzzles. Since we were gaining a space that was designated for our educational items, we knew that we could rid ourselves of this container! We found this Melissa and Doug puzzle rack at Target for $20, but thanks to me searching around for better prices, I actually found it on Walmart’s site for $13! It’s a great puzzle rack since it holds Melissa and Doug puzzles of various sizes and it really doesn’t take up that much space.
We got this awesome storage container to help store and organize some of the items in our classroom. These storage shelves are amazing for organizing your stuff, but it is also great because you can buy a these awesome cubes boxes to place in each opening. The boxes are great because you just through all of your items in there, slide it in, and they give you the appearance of having an organized space. We have one of these storage containers in our daughter’s room and it is great for storing toys!
6 This first cube in our storage container holds a few different manipulatives we purchased. Here, we have our links, counters, bears, pattern cards and pattern shapes.
7 This second cube in our storage container holds two of our large floor puzzles and our dry erase boards. We’ll be using our dry erase boards frequently throughout our preschool curriculum and beyond, so we wanted them to be in a space where we could easily grab them and go.
8 This next cube features our mini writing center. Here, we have our pencils, erasers, post it notes, stencils, and blank books. These blank books were a steal for $3 at Target that were stocked up on over the summer. We’ll be using these to create our own stories and ” I Know ” books.
9 This cube holds all of these workbooks and flashcard sets that we have been collecting. Target had a ton of different workbooks and flashcards packs available last summer in their ” hot buys “. I’d keep an eye out for their return again this year!
10 For the moment, this cube is storing our box of 3D shapes. We’re sure that this space will be changing over time.
11 Remember how I said that the cube boxes for this storage container is great for storing and hiding your messy items? Ta-Da! This cube is where we are storing all of our playdough and playdough tools.
12 This is cube is empty at the moment, which is totally fine. I’m sure we’ll need this open space for something in the future.
13 This cube is storing more of our manipulatives in small pencil containers. These pencil containers are another great way to store and organizer your smaller items. Be on the look out for them once the back to school stuff is put out. We found our containers a few years ago at the dollar store, so naturally, we stocked up!
1 This awesome table was something that we hadn’t planned on buying. We were going to just use the table and chairs that we have in our outside classroom, but during a trip to Walmart, I came across this set in their furniture section… for $25!!! The table AND the chairs both feature dry erase boards! How awesome is that for a preschool classroom!
2 Originally, I didn’t want a desk like this in our classroom, but we needed somewhere for it to go. This desk used to be in our daughter’s room and it was actually a great piece of furniture for holding her hair accessories, CD player, night light, toys, and for laying out her clothes. Since we moved the bigger bed into her room, we just couldn’t keep the desk in there. Turns out, this desk is awesome for storing our printer, my laptop, and the numerous other items I need to plan out and set up activities. It’s also a great place for storing our globe we recently purchased!
This is our indoor science center. You may remember that we also have a science center out in our garage area, but we knew that it would be great to also have an indoor version.
1 This is a piece of furniture that used to be in my home as a child. When my parents wanted to get rid of it, my husband and I were happy to take it off their hands. It has served so many purposes and thanks to my hoarding, we had another storage area for our classroom! For now, there are only some science items and kits in the first drawer.
2 As you can see, we have a few tools for our science center set up and ready to go! The scale was a Christmas gift from the grandparents, while the test tubes and Viewscope were items that we purchased ourselves. We originally found both of these items on Amazon, but decided to purchase them from Walmart’s site because they were offering free shipping. With free shipping, the prices were exactly the same as through Amazon.
3 This poster board is our way of being able to display small anchor charts for our science center. This will be a great way to display information and pictures as we grow with our room.
1 This is the basket where we will be keeping our books that relate to the weekly themes of our preschool curriculum.
2 Remember how I mentioned that we wanted a versatile space? This easel is currently holding our whiteboard and it will also hold our large white paper we will be using for anchor charts, as well. In the event we need this corner for something else in the future, this easel can be folded up and put away! This is easel is something that I’ve held on to since I was in art school. It’s been folded up and stored in our garage, so I was happy that I saved it when it came time to plan out and set up our room.
1 The bottom of this bookshelf is serving as a storage area for some of our educational resources that I’ve collected throughout the years. It is also holding our binders that feature many of our printables that I have found from Pinterest, page protectors, homeschooling books, and so on.
2 These ” Match It ” sets are amazing! We bought 4 box sets of these for our classroom. We bought the numbers set, the first word set, the counting set, and the beginning addition set. Each set is $10 from Walmart’s site and they are definitely a great buy. The cards are thick and glossy, which will make them last with our little one! For now, we are leaving them in the boxes they come in as they are a great way to neatly store them.
3 We found these storage baskets from Target in their clearance section! They usually go for about $7 a piece, but we were able to get them for about $3. We are currently using one of them to store our Alphabet Dinosaur set, while the other is waiting to home other items.
4 A full basket of crayons! It is a preschool classroom after all 🙂
5 Okay, I never planned for a laminator to find it’s way in to our classroom. I had looked at them before and just couldn’t imagine spending that kind of money on a laminator. The cheaper ones that I had been looking at were still around $60 and that didn’t include the pouches you had to buy separately. I had just written it off as something that I would have to save for and maybe, just maybe, one day I would be able to justify that expense. However, it must have been fate! While shopping at Walmart for some last minute items for our classroom, I saw the display for these Scotch laminators, saw that they were selling them for $10 ( !!!! ) and thought ” Why not try it? “. OMG! I am so happy that I did! It has been awesome! We’ve used it for so many items in our room. We’ve laminated our items for our weather and number boards, several of our letter set printables, and so much more! The pouches are where the expense comes from. A pack of 60 was about $13. Still, I feel that this is now something we couldn’t be without in our classroom!
6 As we went through and planned out our classroom, it was obvious that there were going to be empty places, but that is what we wanted. We wanted to set up a space that we could grown in to. These storage boxes are one of those places! The top box features some of our ” rings of knowledge ” that we have made so far, but the rest of the boxes are empty. Oh the possibilities! I’ve actually been collecting these boxes for years now. They have housed my listings for Etsy, art supplies, cardstock, toys, and so on. Now, they will be used in some way in our room.
1 Here, we are storing some of our educational books for our classroom. We are also using this space to store our Hooked On Phonics sets that were handed down to us.
2 and 3 Yet another set of storage bins! Currently, these storage bins are housing our unifex cubes, musical instruments, and animal figurines.
4 This awesome paper storage unit was given to us and it fits perfectly into our classroom space! The flat top also allows us to store more items on top, so we aren’t really losing that space.
5 We are using the top of the paper storage unit to display and store our cups of colored pencils, dry erase markers, and markers. There was also enough space to keep our roll of paper and holder!
6 I’m sure we will be finding other uses for this filing system, but for now, we are using it to hold some of our worksheets, printables, and progress trackers. We are also using some of the folders as a way to start our homeschooling portfolio.
1 Originally, we purchased a set of super cute anchor charts from Target for $1 a piece. I had them all laid out and ready to be hung up. Then, the dogs got to them. They didn’t just chew off a corner or two, they ate all four posters! So we had to purchase another set of anchor charts. I searched for the same set, but was unable to find it again, so the hunt began for another set of charts that we liked. I’ve been very picky about our anchor charts for some reason, but we settled on these.
2 We made these two signs using picture frames from the dollar store and scrapbooking paper. We plan on using theme to write our letter and shape of the day, but they can also be used down the line to write our scheduled events, inspiration text, tricky sight words, and so on.
3 Our calendar! We settled on using a pocket chart for our calendar has it was going to easy to change out each month and we wouldn’t need to nail or tape something else to wall. We hung up our pocket chart using command hooks and the calendar set was purchased at the dollar store! Along the side of our calendar chart, you’ll notice our months of the year card. We actually made these ourselves using scrapbooking paper and laminated them.
4 This is where we are keeping out weather tracker, seasons wheel, and this awesome ” number of days in school ” chart. All of the pieces for our weather tracker and number of days chart were cut out, laminated, and put on a ring for each access and storage. When we move past the age of needing these charts, we will have this bulletin board to use for whatever we need at that time.
This is the closet in our room. I’m still using it mostly for my materials and supplies for my businesses, but we have designated some space for storage of our arts and crafts supplies.
Quick Reference Tips and Tricks:
Search For Inspiration ( Pinterest! )
Save And Collect Educational Items From Various Stores
Use Those Helpful Life Hacks ( Pinterest! )
Collect And Hoard Furniture and Storage Bins
Search For The Best Prices For The Items You Want/Need
Ask For Help From Family And Friends
Make A Space Work In Various Ways
Use Walmart’s Savings Catcher
We hope that this post has inspired you in your own journey to create that perfect learning space for your family. If you have any tips or tricks you think we could use, we’d love to hear them! Leave a comment for us below!
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