I may have stepped out of the classroom this year to be at home with my daughter, but I still can't resist a good classroom makeover. This past summer, I transformed my friend's second grade classroom into a nautical … wonderland? I honestly don't know what I should call this oceanic oasis. Regardless, I poured my heart and soul into every detail of this classroom for my sweet friend and I am so excited to take you on a tour of the space – and just wait till you see the cute little reading tent I set up in her classroom library!
This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog. Special thanks to Teepee Joy for contributing the adorable reading tent for Mrs. B's nautical classroom makeover.
Mrs. B's completed nautical classroom makeover is so good, I can't wait to show you everything! I'll start with a quick view of the room from the hall so you can take in alllll of the sweet little details and then give you an up-close look at each area.
I purchased all of the red, white and blue hanging fans from Party City this summer. They had lots of great patriotic and nautical accessories that played right into Mrs. B's color scheme, but the paper fans were my favorite accessories. I love how the hanging fans immediately draw in the eye and invite you to come into the classroom. The funny thing was that I had “finished” this classroom without the fans and spent a few hours photographing it. Later on, when I looked at the original photos on my computer, the space didn't feel complete. In fact, it felt a little empty – despite the pristine bulletin boards, cozy library, coordinating alternative seating and printable accessories. I made a desperate run to Party City, bought a few packs of fans, hung them from the ceiling and it made all of the difference in the world. Sometimes it's the simplest thing that truly transforms a classroom.
I love the bold stripes from paper fans that hang above each row, and they came with anchor graphics, but I wanted to make an extra bold statement. I had used several items from the Preppy Nautical Nautical Classroom printable collection from Schoolgirl Style throughout the classroom and the graphics included in the set were a perfect fit for this classroom. I printed a few large red circles and whale cutouts, then glued the whales onto the red circles and placed the completed circles onto each striped lantern with packaging tape. It was just the bold pop I was looking for!
Many of the classrooms in my former school have a red accent wall and Mrs. B's classroom was no exception. You may remember how I unexpectedly paired bright teal and rainbow accents into the school's learning center when I transformed that space with the Twinkle Twinkle You're a Star collection from Schoolgirl Style and Carson-Dellosa. This time around, the wall was a natural fit for a very classic theme and color scheme. (You don't always have to reinvent the wheel to make a less-than-desirable classroom feature work!)
The Preppy Nautical classroom collection from Schoolgirl Style also included the cutest naval pennant flags. I printed dozens of nautical flags in a variety of prints, strung them onto 1″ white ribbon, and swagged them as bunting across the front of the classroom. They were a perfect, simple way to add a little pop to an otherwise bare area in the classroom.
One of my favorite views of the classroom is one that visitors see after they walk into the room. it's a straight visual shot from the classroom door over to the windows. You can see some of Mrs. B's manuals and instructional resources tucked into the shelf under the windows, the American flag hangs gracefully in the corner, and there's a little bench for Mrs. B or her students to use during the day. The bench itself was a gift for Mrs. B. from last year's class. It had three cubbies and I found the cutest striped canvas bags at The Container Store that fit perfectly in the cubbies – another fun little pop in her nautical theme classroom makeover.
When I first started decorating this classroom, I knew right away that I wanted crisp white bulletin boards that were trimmed with bold layered borders. The simple bulletin boards created a perfect backdrop for instructional decor and/or anchor charts, but I wanted to really make the space above the classroom windows pop. The boards are too high up and awkward to easily use for instructional purposes, so I created portholes to hang on those boards.
The portholes themselves were very simple to create. I simply cut large circles from gold poster board and glued 12″ circles that I had cut from a roll of watercolor paper that I found at Michaels. I hot glued large gold sequins around the edges of the gold circle and couldn't believe how realistic they turned out. It truly felt like we were on a ship in the middle of the ocean.
Nautical Bulletin Boards to Fit the Theme
This classroom had one single massive bulletin board that spanned across the back of the room. I covered the board with a roll of white fadeless paper to give it a bright, clean backdrop and layered the same bright red polka dot border (also from Schoolgirl Style and Carson-Dellosa) with solid navy blue scalloped border. I used the layered borders to create two sections of the expansive bulletin board: a large area was designated for CAFE and Daily 5 resources and a smaller area displayed the classroom calendar. Mrs. B. already owned the large navy blue anchor and it looked perfect in the corner of the bulletin board.
I picked up the pocket chart in Target's Dollar Spot this summer and created simple calendar numbers to coordinate with the nautical decor. The monthly header at the top is from the Preppy Nautical printable classroom collection by Schoolgirl Style. The cute little “First Day of School” tag is from my Through the Year calendar holiday card set on TpT. The calendar numbers and days of the week labels are available in a free download. Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to grab the nautical theme mini bundle.
I found the cutest letter cutouts that resemble weathered wood and they were the perfect accent for this second grade nautical theme classroom. I used them for “Calendar” and “Daily Five” labels and love how they helped to complete the bulletin board. I used simple templates to create the Cafe and Daily Five organizational signs. You can use these simple templates for a variety of classroom instructional/decor items. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to get these templates for free!
Nautical Theme Classroom Library
By now it's no secret that I love a good classroom library. Mrs. B. owned so many great just-right books for her second grade students (many of which were already leveled and sorted into categories.) They just needed a little organizational upgrade. The best way to give any classroom library an instant facelift is simply to place all of the books in consistent, coordinating bins. I traded all of Mrs. B's rainbow-colored bins for dark blue ones that were in the school's Learning Center. (It was a perfect trade because neon looked very out of place in this nautical classroom but coordinated perfectly with the Twinkle Twinkle You're a STAR collection that we used to transform that space.)
Similar blue bins are sold at Lakeshore and Amazon. The white dot bins are from Big Lots (they sell this style of boxes in 4 different colors each summer. Right now Big Lots still has the white bins in stock online so order quickly if you want them for your classroom because they will sell out eventually and next summer's colors could be completely different.) The red metallic bins were a seasonal purchase from Hobby Lobby last summer.
Once I had the box arrangement nailed, it was time to fill the empty bins with books and label everything. That part was SUPER simple, thanks to the White Series Classroom Library Labels in my TpT store. The set includes bin labels in dozens of themes and two different sizes for easy organization, along with coordinating sticker labels for books so that students always know exactly where to return books when they are done reading.
I used many of the pre-made theme labels for Mrs. B's classroom library and put the editable files included in the set to use by creating character and author labels. I can't include these images in the pre-made files for copyright reasons, but it's really easy to make your own using the editable PowerPoint files included in the pack.
I also created custom Guided Reading level labels for this particular library. I wanted these labels to have a more nautical feel to them, so I created my own with the editable template using the Georgia font in bold and made all of the letters red to coordinate with the classroom. It turned out so perfect and gave Mrs. B's classroom library that special something that it needed.
I also attached navy blue and white striped border to the top of the library bookshelf to incorporate an extra touch of decor. It was a small detail that made a big difference.
Nautical Classroom Alternative Seating
When I started planning and designing Mrs. B's nautical classroom, I knew I wanted to create an extra-special space for her students to curl up with a book. I had recently discovered Teepee Joy and fell head over heels in love with the concept of adding a reading tent to the classroom. I reached out to Teepee Joy and they graciously provided one of their lovely teepees for Mrs. B's classroom. Teepee Joy has hundreds of fabrics to choose from and deciding on the best one for the nautical classroom transformation was no easy task! There were many great styles in navy blue and red (including anchors and polka dots). I decided on the solid Roses are Red teepee, crossed my fingers, and hoped that it was the right choice!
I breathed a very deep sigh of relief when I saw how fabulous the bright red teepee looked in Mrs. B's nautical classroom. It created the perfect visual anchor for the back of the classroom.
The teepee itself was easy to get upright, but it took a few minutes for me to properly situate the dowels that hold up the teepee so that it was fully open, but the little reading teepee looked fantastic once it was all set up.
I purchased a few navy blue pillows that perfectly fit the nautical theme at Hobby Lobby and placed one on each side of the teepee, along with two teal pillows that Mrs. B already owned.
Isn't this the cutest little reading corner that you have ever seen?!? I was fortunate to be in the classroom when Mrs. B's second graders and their parents entered the classroom for the very first time this fall and everyone's eyes lit up when the saw the teepee tucked into the corner of the room.
Mrs. B had created simple crate seats for her students last year and they were a perfect fit for her new classroom decor. If you're ever in need of easy, budget-friendly seating; crate seats are the way to go! I placed these seats at each end of the library bookcase and tucked two of them side-by-side to create a mini bench in front of a supply cabinet. A coordinating throw pillow placed on top created a cozy touch and made the seats inviting for students.
Here's a view of the classroom library from the front of the room. You can see how perfectly all of the details coordinate with the rest of the decor.
Extra Pops of Nautical Decor
I had so much fun incorporating nautical details throughout this classroom. One side wall didn't have very much inherent personality; it was just a cinder block wall with some cabinets, a door, a sink, and some lateral cabinets. I added some pennants from the Schoolgirl Style Preppy Nautical collection near the ceiling to add a little color and attached some cute sailboat and whale cutouts from the collection to the built-in cabinets. It made a world of difference. The file cabinet labels and desk nametags are also from the Preppy Nautical printable collection.
One last detail that I absolutely love is the classroom prayer corner. You see, this second grade classroom is in a Catholic school and each teacher creates a special area in the classroom where students can gather for prayer, reflection, and faith formation. I wanted to anchor the space with a scripture quote that fit the nautical theme so I took to Instagram Stories and asked for ideas. There were many great suggestions, but this was the most popular quote and it was so fitting for this teacher and her students.
I created a simple PDF and adjusted the print settings in Adobe Reader to have it print poster size with my standard printer. Each 8.5×11″ sheet of paper was essentially a puzzle piece for the poster. I printed the poster onto cardstock for added durability, trimmed the edges off each sheet of paper and glued them together to create the poster. It was a bit of a headache to line up all the pieces, but the completed bulletin board turned out perfect! If you would like this poster for your classroom, scroll all the way to the bottom of this post – I have included it in a free download!
Classroom Supply Organization
With the decor, books, and seating under control, the only thing left to tackle was classroom storage. Like every other elementary teacher, Mrs. B. had drawers filled with essential classroom supplies: markers, pens, index cards, glue rubber bands … you name it. She had everything already sorted and organized. I just gave the industrial-looking drawers a little facelift with my Visual Supply Labels. I printed, laminated, and cut out each label, then attached them to the drawer fronts with a little hot glue.
Mrs. B. also had tons of great hands-on tools and games for students to use during indoor recess. The items had been contained in gallon size zipper bags and a very eclectic collection of mismatched bins. I went through every single ziplock bag and placed their contents into Sterilite clip bins. Many of the games with sorry, dented, and torn cardboard boxes were also placed into Sterilite bins, which are so much more durable. I love colored plastic bins for classroom storage as much as the next teacher, but I also love good, quality, durable Sterilite bins for practical storage of everyday materials. I picked up the larger clip bins at Target, but Dollar General had tiny ones for $1 each that are great for storing playing cards, dice, and other tiny pieces.
I'm sure you've noticed the numbered bins across the top of the shelf – those are the students' book boxes. The bins are from Lakeshore Learning and the numbered pennants are from … you guessed it … Schoolgirl Style!
I love how neat and organized everything looks in this corner of the room without sacrificing practicality.
Nautical Classroom Teacher Corner
Even though Mrs. B never sits at her desk with students in the room, she still needed a traditional desk and work area to help her lesson plan and manage all of the paperwork that comes with being a teacher. She had a corner of the room already set up to use as her home base, but I made a few simple changes to make it more manageable.
Mrs. B puts her heart and soul into her classroom and students, but she also has a family that she is deeply devoted to. I learned firsthand last year just how difficult it can be to juggle a family and life as a teacher, so I wanted to add a special touch to this corner of the room for her. I mounted some family photos onto black cardstock and created a little gallery wall on the bulletin board above her desk. Sticking with the nautical theme, I titled this bulletin board “The Crew”.
Once I had created a joyful, functional work surface for Mrs. B, it was on to her personal supplies! She kept all of her teaching manuals, instructional materials, and prepped copies within easy reach on the shelves under the window beside her desk. I contained all of the manuals and smaller items in colored bins to coordinate with the rest of the decor and placed them back on the shelf. The blue and white baskets are from Big Lots. I purchased the red bins from Lakeshore Learning and labeled each one with a day of the week so Mrs. B. could easily organize her daily instructional materials. I included the M-F labels in a free download for you at the bottom of this post!
And there you have it! A complete tour of the nautical theme second grade classroom. I absolutely love how the space turned out and it brought me so much joy to create a space that I knew Mrs. B and her students would love.
Thank you so, so much to Teepee Joy for graciously contributing the adorable red teepee for Mrs. B's classroom transformation. I know her students will enjoy using it for many years to come!
Free Nautical Theme Classroom Decor
I used many printable resources from the Schoolgirl Style Preppy Nautical pack for this classroom, but I also custom-created some items for the space that I'm happy to offer as my FREE gift to you. Click the image below to access free Nautical decor that includes calendar numbers, M-F daily bin labels, the bible quote poster, and the red and blue templates that I used to create Daily Five and CAFE signs for Mrs. B.
(Please note that The Two Sisters own the copyright and trademark for CAFE and Daily 5. As much as I would love to share the exact files that I created for this classroom, I'm not able to do so for legal and ethical reasons. You can add any of your own text to the designs to make them work for you and your classroom needs.)
Even though it has been several months, I am still so in love with Mrs. B's nautical classroom makeover. The bold stripes and polka dots put a fresh new spin on a classic color scheme to create such a fun place for her students to learn and work. Thank you again to Teepee Joy for the gorgeous lipstick-red Teepee – it was the piece to complete the space!