Labeling Your Classroom!

I know that most of you still have many more weeks of summer vacation, but being a bit compulsive I was always thinking, and planning and shopping and making things for the next year.  As soon as the carpet was cleaned and the custodians finished in my room I was ready to start pushing around furniture and getting ready for the new crop of kids.  I loved the freedom to stop into my classroom for an hour or so, and then leave and go do something else.  The problem was that once I stopped in to school it was hard for me to leave!

Anyway, I just wanted to share some ideas for labeling your classroom.  I found out what a tremendous difference it makes when you are encouraging or expecting children to put away materials.  Parents were always amazed at how willing and efficient the children were at cleaning up, but it was mostly because they knew exactly where everything belonged, and they knew that everyone was expected to help.  Another very important reason to label your classroom is that is it such a great way to encourage children to read for a real purpose, they begin to understand that reading is not only about fun stories but also meaningful and helpful.

One way I labeled materials in my classroom was by putting a picture and the word on the container of materials, and the identical label on the shelf where it belonged.

Sometimes I took photographs of the actual toys or materials and used those as labels.

But then I discovered a wonderful resource!!!  The company Environments provides wonderful, beautiful, FREE labels on their website.  You have to register as a member – but that is free too!

They have lots and lots of great labels, and also calendar pictures, and lots of other neat stuff!!  Look under resources – then Label Maker!

You can edit and write words by the pictures too!  Here are some that I made and saved.

picture labels

Before I discovered this wonderful resource, I used some labels that I received in a grad class.  I didn’t really know where they had been created, but they are labeled Hillsborough Education Foundation.  They were exactly what I was looking for at the time.  Here are some that I saved:

Here are all that I have in pdf format if you’d like to print them:

materials labels

Sometimes I printed the labels on full sheets of adhesive backed paper, other times I put them onto the containers, then covered them with clear contact paper.  I did the same thing to the shelves.  You might want to label both ends of containers because – as you can see in this picture, the children don’t always turn them around so the label shows.

It was fine if the container completely covered the label on the shelf – it was only important to see the shelf label when the container was taken off the shelf – so the kids would know where to put it away.

On the Environments site they also have labels for different genres of books.  I fastened them onto baskets containing the books, and also on the shelf.

Setting up a Kindergarten classroom is really challenging because we need to include all the literacy resources that are required in this day of high expectations, but it was important to me that my room NOT look like a first grade classroom.  I wanted the children to have easy access to many different types of books but I also wanted to have play materials visible and accessible.

Another way to organize materials and help children clean up was to label the containers with letters or numbers, with matching letters or numbers on the shelves.  This provides practice for kids still learning letters and numerals, and also provides a way to organize materials that might be out for a limited time, and then switched for other games, etc.

These were my math centers – it just made sense to use numbers on these tubs – and it was really easy to switch to different math games as the year progressed.  It can be helpful to use clear containers so the children can see what is inside each tub, but I never found any clear tubs that were as durable as these Rubbermaid dish pans.  I used some of the same tubs for 20 years!!!!  The yellow tubs on the left side I got from a local hospital – they were the wash tubs that are given to each patient that is admitted.  The hospital gave me 20 of them for my room – you could also ask if any of your parents work in a hospital to save them for you because they are usually thrown away.  (If you don’t mind disinfecting them first!)




The A and B tubs at the top were originally labeled when I had 2 classes of Kindergarten – a.m. and p.m.  I used green (for go!) for the morning class, and red (for stop!) for the p.m.  It was the only way I could keep things straight.  I used those colors on permission slips that went home, etc. so I could tell which class the papers belonged to.  I taught full day kdg. for at least 8 years though – and never got around to changing those labels.  I used those 2 tubs for ongoing projects – sometimes for Talking, Drawing, Writing journals or theme books we were working on.

You could use the same labeling technique with letters.

In the picture you see some games and manipulatives, but I used most of these tubs for Literacy centers that changed.  I didn’t change all these materials on a specific schedule, but as the children were ready I introduced new games or activities and left the materials out for free choice.  All my math and literacy materials were available during free choice time, but there were other times of the day that the only choice would be literacy centers, or math centers.

Of course I labeled things around the classroom too.  I used to use upper case letters, and changed them all to lower case.

At the beginning of the year I just put up the word clock.  Late in the year I put simple sentences around the classroom, including punctuation!

It doesn’t show in this picture, but I also put 2 paper handprints by the flag – labeled left and right.  I put a flag sticker on the right hand.  That way when the children looked up at the flag they could hold up both their hands, find the one that “matched” the flag sticker hand, and know which one to put over their heart!

Of course we used labels for classroom materials too!

Here is another idea that worked well for me!

I bought these containers at Walmart – they were designed to make ice cubes that fit into water bottles.  They were perfect for holding markers!!

There were 3 rows across – so I put 3 of each color in each container, and there were 9 rows.  That allowed me to put 3 packages of 8 count markers in each container – then I added gray and pink in the extra 3 spots.  That worked out to be just the right amount of markers at a table of 5-6 children.  I was able to find them with different colored bases – so I could match my table colors and the children knew which set to take to their own table because I didn’t keep them on the tables all the time.  I also put a set of them at the art center and the writing center.

Sometimes I cut alphabet letters out of colored contact paper to label things in my room.

They were really durable and easy to apply – kind of a pain to hand cut them – you could use a die cut machine but you use up more contact paper that way!

I also used contact paper to label my block shelf.  I traced each type of block and labeled the section of the shelf where those blocks belonged.


There are wonderful Centers signs available to buy, but I made mine from clipart and a large font – I suspended signs above the centers in my classroom.

I reduced those signs and put them on a center chart – where the children chose which center they would go to.  I will share more about my center organization soon.


I guess I didn’t save my center signs – I remade them every few years because they get very faded hanging in the room.  If you are looking for some center signs, there are great colorful ones on the Environments site!

Don’t forget that this really is your summer vacation!  Hope you are having fun!


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kim
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 10:07:44

    I would love to be a kiddo in your classroom.
    You are so dedicated to helping them learn.


  2. Terry
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 02:13:15

    I would like to look up the company Enviroment but can’t seem to find it when I Google.. Can you send the URL?


  3. Terry
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 14:28:31

    Love your blog. I was able to find the site thanks to your response.
    Thank you.


  4. Rita
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 07:37:51

    I am living in the caribbean but is presently in Orlando on vacation>>>got all excited after readimg the info u posted >>>I must say thank u and may god richly bless U>>>cause I can get the resources in the U S that I would not be alble to get back home>>Thanks once more Ur classroom most be an awesome place >>>



  5. Lisa
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 15:32:15

    Hi Diane! I am looking forward to hearing more about how you organize your centers. I will be starting my second year in kindergarten and last year was so difficult to manage how many children were at a center at a time, keeping it organized, and making the signs/checkout system. I will take at look at the Environments company, hopefully that can help me make new signs. Do you allow children to choose different centers or do they have to stay where ever they put their clothespin? Do you keep track of where the children go daily?


  6. Lisa
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 15:34:20

    PS…where did you find colored clothespins for your centers? Or did you just color them with a marker? Also, I teach at Lakewood and our team LOVED using your site last year! Some of your materials are still in the building but we also found many other things here that we could use. We love everything you post, keep it coming!


  7. Trackback: How to Utilize Classroom Labels to Facilitate Chinese Learning | Fortune Cookie Mom 幸運曲奇媽咪
  8. Trackback: How to Utilize Classroom Labels to Facilitate Chinese Learning - Fortune Cookie Mom

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