Getting the most value out of a bookshelf in the preschool classroom

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on April 20, 2013

in Classroom Setup, Getting the most value from a bookshelf

There are days that I wish I had more space in my indoor classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of my indoor classroom. I love setting it up to be warm and inviting and I enjoy the challenge of turning small spaces into valuable spaces. Today I want to share with you a few ways I try to get the most value out of the bookshelves I have in my preschool classroom…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

I only have three stand-alone bookshelves in my indoor classroom. Each shelf was custom built (by my husband) to fit comfortably in my classroom. Before building my shelves, I did my homework. I measured how tall and wide I wanted each shelf to be. The measurements were based on the average height of a three and four year old and the amount of floor space I would have available…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

I think it is important that each shelf can stand up in the middle of a space without having to worry about it tipping over. My shelves are extremely sturdy and heavy to move around. They are sturdy enough for me to stand on them to change a light bulb or one of my students to climb on top of it without it tipping or breaking (although  my students do not climb on my shelves). Because my shelves are so sturdy, I can set them out in the middle of a floor to help divide my classroom into smaller, intentionally designed spaces (centers) for play…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

When painting my shelves, I painted the sides and backs with one coat of magnetic paint and a second coat of white paint on top. I think I should have used two coats of magnetic paint but I was in a hurry and only used one. I can place magnetic items on the sides or backs of the shelves for the children to explore but nothing too heavy or it will fall off . On this shelf are magnetic sentence strips with the children’s names on them – the rest of the names are spread out around the room on other shelves. The children can go and get their names and then put them back on the side of a shelf when not in use…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

On the back of every shelf, I also like to add something like a felt board, magnetic board, or anything else I can think of to make every part of the bookshelf a contributing part of our classroom environment…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

I label my shelves and baskets to some degree but not nearly as much as I possibly could. It all depends on how much time I have and how often I change things up. I use sentence strips for labeling and tape them in place with clear packing tape…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

I also use the tops of my shelves for different purposes. Sometimes, I set out different types of supplies the children can use on top of the shelves…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

And other times, I set out different types of tools for play on the tops of my shelves…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

Everyday, you will find someone exploring some type of play, science, math, or creative process on the top of our shelves…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

We also built small shelves for our walls to display books, artwork, or light table supplies. The shelves are low enough for the children to reach and they help us keep our floor shelves available for other types of activities…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

And we also use small baskets or file folder holders on our wall like the one shown below that holds our journals…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

Every shelf has a purpose it its design and the goal is to make sure that every shelf is designed to bring value to the classroom environment and the children’s experience…

More than just a bookshelf by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

A new bookshelf in my preschool classroom

Simple ideas for classroom set-up

Building bookshelves for the preschool classroom

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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