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Cute Classroom Inspiration–Michele Smyth, Lake Orion, MI


I would like you to meet Michele Smyth from Lake Orion, Michigan.  I was excited to “meet” Michele over email and find out that we are actually neighbors!  We live very close to one another and both share the same passion – teaching first grade!

Michele has a really great blog called New Adventures in First Grade.  I enjoyed reading her posts and adore her personality!  I had so much fun looking at her photos too – I noticed that we vacationed at the same spot this last summer!  I also found pictures of her gorgeous classroom.  Michele decorated her room in soothing blues and greens – inspired by the nature center right next to her classroom.   What a lucky girl to have that scenery to look at every day!

Michele gave me permission to share her room with all of my followers.  I decided to just copy her entire blog post since she did a wonderful job explaining the different areas and how she runs her classroom.  She has a ton of really great ideas!

I am sure that you will agree, Michele has such a beautiful and organized classroom!  If you get a chance, stop by her blog and say “hello!” 

Well done, Michele!

Welcome to my new room!

This is the front of the room… the door from the hall is on the left side of the photo.  My desk (which I never sit at) is to the right of the green chair.  My “Look Books” and “Favorites” are on the green shelves.

This is my calendar and agenda area.  I’m trying something new this year and doing an interactive calendar time at the start of my math workshop.  The students will each have a folder in which they will write the same things that the Star Student for the day is doing.  I “borrowed” this idea from Jessica Meacha
This is the back of the room (view from my green chair).  You will notice that I do not have traditional chairs in my room.  This will be my third year using ball chairs.  They are AMAZING and those that know me well, also know that I would put up a pretty big fight if I had to give them up.  I’ll post more about the chairs and the research another time.

Here is my writing station and materials cabinet (which I found by the side of the road last year-FREE!).  I will be using community supplies and the students are responsible for the maintenance.  This is in front of my desk (it’s on the left side of the photo).

This is a shot from the back corner of the room.  On the back of the white shelf, the students will create a graph each morning on the pocket chart to log their lunch choice.  Hey, look- my desk is in this one!  In case you’re wondering, yes, I was watching Friends while setting up and forgot to turn off the TV before taking the photos!

Can I just say that I have the BEST view in the building?  We are next door to a nature center and my room looks into the woods.  It is SO CALMING!  The round table in the back holds our “New Arrivals” book rack.  Honestly, they are books that relate to our science or social studies unit at the moment.  They are from my public library, so they are “new” to the room.  I got this idea from Kathy Collins.  She suggested making an area like a bookstore, marketing the exciting books we have available.  The table will become my small group meeting spot soon.

Here is a closer view of the back of the room.  My leveled library is on the front half of the shelves and the nonfiction books are on the right side of the photo.  The “Look Books” and “Favorites” are at the front of the room.

One side has social studies themes and the other had science themed books.  This is my Nonfiction station during Literacy Workshop time.

These are my organization boards for Workshop times.  Next week, there will be white cards in the empty spaces on the left sides of the charts with the Workshop pairs indicated.  I want a little time to get to know my students before assigning groups (even though I already know most of them!)

Here are the manipulative tubs
(you can find the labels on a previous post).  The students are in charge of keeping them sorted and ready to use.  I realize that I’m crazy, but this bin had to face the back of the room because the bins are red and yellow (it doesn’t match everything else!).

Right across from the manipulatives, are the bins for the 12 math stations that we will be using.

Thanks for visiting!


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  1. I have five balls in my resource room and love them! Ours are in bases which help with the rolling away.

    Love this room – I want a nature center outside of my classroom.

  2. Where did you get the balls and how much were they? I would loooooove to have them instead of chairs.

  3. What a neat room! I have the same question as B.P., where did you get the balls? How long have they lasted? It gives me the idea for a grant request! Thanks for sharing a new classroom and a new blog with us! 🙂

    • Also wondering about where to purchase a group of balls and how much? Thanks

  4. I love the soothing colors and organization. I have read about the balls, but the article dealt with older students, and would love to hear why she would “put up a fight” for them. I’m intrigued!

  5. I’m from your neck of the woods as well! Love your blog and how adorable your classroom is. You are such an inspiration. I’m still getting started with my blog but would love for you to check it out!

  6. I LOVE the border and the green pocket charts! Does anybody know where I could find them?

  7. I also am very interested in the ball chairs! Where did you get them and how much were they? Love your room!

  8. Thank you for all your cool ideas. I’d like to use a few of them. It’s neat to start a new school year with new ideas.

  9. Hey all!
    Here are some answers to your questions:

    Green pocket charts came from Taget 4 years ago in the $1 bin. I sewed 2 of them together in order to make a long one.

    The balls were purchased at: www.,
    However I just recently replaced one and got it from Amazon.
    Here is that link:
    This is the size I used for kinder/ 1st grade. There are other sizes for taller kids.

    The border was from Lakeshore Learning (I have a store by my house). This is the manufacturer, if you want to track it down:

    Reasearch on movement/ ball chairs, read about it here:

    I have had the balls (full class set) for 3 years and used them for kinders & first graders. I (students) have replaced 2 of them. One was popped by accident with a pencil and the other was a behavior issue. I purchased more last year to accomodate a larger class.

    Please stop by my blog, as I will be updating my classroom this August/September!
    New Adventures in First Grade

  10. I have a couple of balls, unfortunately was told “not safe” and had to remove them. I did find balls that have sand in them, it kept them from rolling around the room… They were amazing… now I have to find a way around the red tape… trying to get a personal injury release or something.. ugh! Love your room!