Classroom Design in Preschool

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Classroom Design can make or break the comfort and activity level in your preschool classroom!

Classroom design, or the way in which you set up your classroom, will determine how comfortable your students and families are and how productive you are! 

The layout of your classroom can decrease--or increase-- negative behavior in the classroom!

The preschool classroom should be set up with the goal of letting children know where materials go, however, the set up should not limit what can be done in each area (yes, it's okay to use the blocks in the dramatic play center!  And it's okay to dress up before playing at the water table!)

When setting up your classroom you also need to consider health and safety.

First, Let's Talk Space!

Your classroom design will largely be determined by the amount of space you have, where the windows and doors are located and the type of flooring you have in each area.

Most classrooms are organized around Interest Learning Centers.  We will talk more about each specific learning center and where the best space for each center is in your classroom.

When considering your space, keep the following things in mind:

  • The Art Center, the Easel and the Sand and Water table are potentially “messy” activities.  These are best set up on flooring rather than on a carpeted area.
  • Library and Block Center areas are best set up on a carpeted area for comfort (with respect to the Library and sitting on the floor reading books) and for noise control (with respect to the blocks!)
  • The Dramatic Play area can be anywhere in your classroom as can your math/manipulatives area and your Computer, if you have one.
  • A Science/Discovery area would be best placed near a window to allow light for plants to grow, to use for light to use prisms and make rainbows, etc.

Let's Talk Intended Use of Space in your Classroom Design!

When determining your classroom design, think about how each interest center is used and, therefore, the activity level that may occur in each center. 

The reason for determining this is to ensure that you do not put a center that is active and, at times, loud (like your dramatic play area) next to your library area where the children are trying to listen to a story or next to your computer where the children need to hear the instructions coming from the speakers.

This is not to say that blocks can ONLY be used in the Block Center.  The purpose of defined areas is to know where the materials are housed/stored.

Once you have determined which areas to keep away from each other, draw it out on paper.  How does it look to you? Is there a natural flow from interest center to interest center and throughout the classroom?

Books I LOVE to Help with Classroom Design!

The following two books are go to books for me when considering classroom design!  

You can click these links:

The Creative Curriculum for Preschool and Complete Learning Center Book

or click the picture links below to find them at Amazon (many times you can find used copies at amazing prices there!)

You might also find them at your local library

Let's Talk Interest Learning Centers!

Now, let’s talk about some general considerations for each interest learning center. 

Do you have your Interest Learning Centers labeled?  Picture labels help your children to know what happens where!  Posters help your families to know what happens in each center!

I created this packet specifically for these purposes!

This preschool packet includes 14 Interest Center Posters and 22 Interest Center Label Signs for your classroom!

I use Center Signs all year long and Center Posters at the beginning of the year, at open house, at parent conference time or any time families will be spending time in the classroom! 

Click here for more information on this packet!

Below you will find some some basic questions to consider for each Interest Learning Center. You will also find a clickable picture link for each center. 

Each link will bring you to a page dedicated to that specific interest center which provides you with detailed information such as suggested materials for the interest center; how to prepare the interest center; the skills preschoolers develop in the interest center and more!

The Art Center: 

Where will children put their finished art?

Can they get to the finished art spot without having to carry a very, heavily painted paper through ALL of the other interest centers (this could be messy!)? 

Is the Art Area close to the hand washing sink or bathroom? (This will be important on days that you fingerpaint!

The Bible Center:  

Typically this center is for no more than 2 children.  It allows time for them to work together on the Bible story of the week or to pray together.  

Do you have a quiet area or corner for this center?

Will the children sit on mats or chairs as they interact in this center?

It all depends on your goals and potential activities provided in this area. 

The Block Center:  

I recommend this area to be against a wall, preferably a corner of the room. This allows enough storage by having 2 corners of wall.

It also provides a space for the children to build without other children knocking down their structures as would happen if this were in the middle of the room.

Circle Time Area: 

Will this be a shared area? For example, will you need to use this space as the math center or block area when not in circle time? 

Consider how you will store your other materials when the Circle Time area is in use so the children are not distracted by other materials (i.e. hang fabric over the block shelving during circle time.)

You will need room for a wall chart/calendar and will need access to an outlet to use your CD player.

Cooking Area:  

This area should be somewhere close to a hand washing sink or bathroom so the children do not have to carry food or walk with sticky hands through the entire classroom!

Also include LOTS of cleaning supplies!

Dramatic Play:  

This is a very active area! It can be anywhere in your classroom! The only place I do not recommend is near an area that is meant to be a quiet, relaxing area such as the Library or the Computer.

The Art Easel:  Will your children have a clear path to a sink to wash their hands?  Where will you put the art work as they finish (usually larger paper is used here)?  

I recommend hanging some decorative plastic on the wall (we used a cute shower curtain that we cut to place on the wall) if your easel will be near a wall rather than the center of the room.

This is best on a floor.  If your room is completely carpeted, as ours was, I recommend a mat under it!  Here is one that I recommend.  It is 50" X 72" and affordable!


It would be best for this area to be on a carpeted area of the room, however, that is not necessary. You can provide small area carpets or carpet squares for the children to lay on while reading as well as chairs, a small table for audio books, or a child sized couch

Math Center:   

This center is usually combined with the Fine Motor Activities Center (or also called the Manipulatives or Table Toy Center).  It would be great to have shelving to place the games and activities on for the children to choose.

Provide a table and chairs near the area that the materials are so that the children do not have far to walk with the box or bin of items in their hands.

I have online workshop to help you learn the many math process skills to provide to your preschoolers throughout the year.  This workshop MAY qualify for your annual in-service hours.  

Click here for more information on the Math in the Preschool Classroom Workshop!

Sand and Water Table: 

This area should be on a floor where clean up is easier.  Our classroom had indoor/outdoor commercial carpeting throughout the entire room!  To avoid wet carpets, we used a durable mat under the table and taped it to the carpet for safety.  Here is a suggestion (the same type we use for the easel):

The Science/Discovery Area: 

Will you plant seeds here?  You may want it near a window.  

Will you have a fish aquarium all year?  This should NOT be near a window (it will create a lot of algae and be too hot for the fish.  

I have online workshop to help you learn the many science process skills to provide to your preschoolers throughout the year and how to incorporate them throughout your classroom.  This workshop MAY qualify for your annual in-service hours.  

Click here for more information on the Science in the Preschool Classroom Workshop!

Writing Center: 

How will you store items (markers, pens, paper, etc.) so that children have access to it?  

How many children will use this center at one time (this will determine the size of the table you will need).

Change is Good......Really!


If the set up doesn’t work for your group, change it! There are many reasons you may want to change or modify the layout or design of your preschool classroom

Signs That It's Time to Re-Arrange!

Too much open space in your classroom may look like a runway to your children that just screams "RUN HERE!  RUN HERE!" 

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Yes, children like consistency, but change is not taboo! When we have made changes to our environment, we talk with the kids about it right away! One of their favorite circle time activities has been when the teacher asked them, “Does anyone notice anything different about our room today?”.

You may want to consider changing your layout when you see:

  • Too much running in classroom: This is a sign that areas of your classroom just scream "RUN HERE! RUN HERE! to the children. You may need to reduce your "runway" space by either modifying that area or adding something in the middle. You could add a table for playdough or puzzles.
  • The Library has become an extension of your dramatic play area: Is your library located near your dramatic play area? If so, the children may naturally use your library as an extension area of play. If you expect your library to be a quiet area, it is important to locate it near other quiet learning centers.
  • Also, do you use your library as circle time? If so, the children have "learned" that this is a place where we sing, dance and move around a lot!

We change or modify our room design often. Dramatic Play moves from one end of the room to the other about once a month!

Classroom Design and Health and Safety

Another consideration when looking at your classroom design is health and safety with regard to materials.

You should have a cleaning/sanitizing schedule in place for your materials.

You also need to check for toy safety recalls. 

The following articles will go into more detail on each of these areas.

Go to Preschool Plan It's HOME Page

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