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A new start – setting up a new classroom

on August 25, 2015

First up, I know it’s been a while.  I won’t go into detail, but this school year has been one I’m planning never to think about again!  Luckily, I’ve now found a fantastic job, and will be ‘Lead Practitioner for Mathematics’ at a school I’m very excited about.

I’m in the process of setting up my new classroom, so I thought I’d start by showing you some of my new ideas for using displays to make your life easier.

First up, the easy-change Countdown poster:


I’ve now made 5 (one for me, one for each of the 3 NQTs in the dept, and one for my husband), so I think I’ve now refined the process to a fine art…!

First you’ll need some CD cases – I got 50 for £1.95 from Wilko’s.


Then you’ll need 3 sheets of A4 card, stuck together on the back like this:

(I used pretty sturdy tape, to avoid future issues)


Next, you’ll want to print off the numbers (or letters, if you fancy) from this site:

The CD cases can be cut to size, so that the numbers fit in.   It’s up to you how much you cut them down, but I’d advise leaving a good centimetre on each side to be safe, and make it easier to replace the numbers.  I also chose to cut off a diagonal slice from the front (see picture) to make it easier to swap inserts.


In the picture, you can see that I’ve just cut off the right edge, and the top, leaving the bottom and left edge intact.

I cut 6 the same, then stuck them down onto my card, starting at the bottom.  I chose to use washi-style tape, since it was prettier – you can find it in Wilko’s too, or there’s a huge selection on amazon/eBay.   (You could obviously just use plain tape if you’d rather.)

After a bit of trial-and-improvement, I settled on taping each one down individually, mostly since it was easier to line up my dotty tape that way.  Take care not to obstruct the top side with tape, so it still opens freely.

I then took another of the CD cases, cut off the flap at the top, and stuck it down in the centre at the top of the poster (with a different pretty tape…!) for the total.    The nice thing is that you can either use it as a pocket, just like the others, and print off some different totals, or you can just use it like a whiteboard, as it will wipe clean.


The final touch is to print off a title – I used the picture from the site where I got the numbers.

Tadaaaaah!  A ready-made starter / early finisher / entry work activity that can be easily updated.   I store the spare numbers in the back of one of the pockets, and plan to make one of my tutor group responsible for changing up the numbers and total each morning.

Next up, the easy-change Key Words posterboard.

I wanted to be able to feature key words for each topic, without the hassle.  It really helps that KS3 are all doing the same overall topic at the same time!


I took a sheet of foamboard (Hobbycraft, about £3.50), and a 25m washing line (£1 from Poundland), and then cut 6 pieces, a little bigger than the width of the board.  I then stuck it down at each end on the back of the board.  I added a border of hot pink Duck tape – check the link for loads of colours and designs.   I also got some cheap pegs.

I glued on a title, and can now swap in key words whenever I like (keeping the old group together for next time!).

Next, my idiot’s guide to area and perimeter poster:  (totally stolen from Pinterest)


(check out the neatness – I was terrified I was going to spell something wrong halfway through….)

My display boards:

I chose to cover my boards with black cotton material instead of paper.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but I HATE faffing around with ripped paper, especially borders, so hopefully this will save me doing it again for a year.

I also added minion ribbon as a border, just cos it’s fun.  (eBay)


Finally, I have a ‘homework’ box by the door, for hand-in on entry, or collection of a sheet on exit.  I plan to set it mostly online, so the sheets will just be for those who’d rather use a paper copy.


It’s just a standard file box, held up with Command strips (I LOVE these).

In the next installment, the posters I bought from, the quotes to be added to the wall, and possibly even my scale of understanding (from ‘minion’ to ‘evil genius’).



One response to “A new start – setting up a new classroom

  1. […] talked ‘simple starters’ – see posts here and here, and then the Puzzle of the Week that I post here on the blog each week.  I also mentioned that […]

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