Thursday, July 16, 2015

Getting Ready for Back to School: Thinking About Classroom Decorations

It's the middle of the summer and I'm already anxiously awaiting the day I can get started on setting up my classroom.  This year, that's even more uncertain than normal because I'll be moving into a portable classroom.  We have to wait until they are installed on our school grounds before we can move in.  On a side note, isn't it sad that my 2 year old school building is already in need of portable classrooms to house all of our students?

While I'm waiting to actually move my classroom, I've been giving a lot of thought to how I want to decorate this year.  The first idea I've been exploring is focusing in on a theme. In the past, I haven't really fully embraced the classroom theme trend.  My decorating style is usually made up of a hodgepodge of materials I already have.

Here are a few pictures I took as I was setting up my room last year:

The view from my classroom door.

Our Reading Center

My Welcome to School Display  (Can you tell I like owls?)

The Writing Center

Our Meeting Area and Word Wall

As you can see, aside from the color blue, there's nothing that really pulls everything together. My word wall is a train, my alphabet strip is fairly generic and I have owls sprinkled across the room.  One shot I didn't take was of my student cubby area.  I used apple cut-outs to label my cubbies and I had a display of my students' first day of school pictures on their cabinet doors.  The apple frames that I displayed their pictures in are some I made available for free in my TPT store and I've loved using them for the past few years.

So, while I think everything looked nice, nothing really pulled the room together.

The other area of classroom decorating that I've been pondering is how I can make my room more learning focused. While I find all of the busy chevrons and polka dots I see on Pinterest personally appealing, I worry that a busy decorating scheme will prove distracting to my students. I've been reading some interesting articles about studies that show students learn better in less heavily decorated classroom.  One of the articles, from The New York Times, is called Rethinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom. I teach second grade, so I don't think I need to take the article too much to heart, but I definitely don't want to add distracting elements to my classroom. My kids have a hard enough time focusing as it is!

Another challenge I will have in my new portable classroom: space!  Everything on my walls will need to have a purpose.  I'll need to make sure my attempt at decorating does not compete with space for learning tools and anchor charts.

So, I've been working on some practical ways to make my classroom look warm and welcoming with a more cohesive classroom theme. At the same time, I want my walls to help students remember and apply the strategies I'm teaching.
Since I have a lot of owl-themed stuff already, I decided to expand on that theme.  I purchased some adorable die-cut magnets that I got with my last Scholastic Book order. I plan to use these to create a student work display - that is, if I have a magnetic whiteboard.  It's so frustrating not knowing what my classroom will be like!

I found some more cute owls that I can use at the dollar spot in Target. I have several vague ideas for using these. What can I say? They were owls. I had to have them.

Because I'm going with owls, the apple picture frames for the first day of school were no longer going to work for me.  I had to create new picture frames that went along with my owl theme.  Here is a picture of the second grade ones that I'll be using.

They are available in my TPT store and they also include matching number labels that I'll use for my students' cubbies.

After I created these, I started thinking about my math wall. I've had the same number cards for years. The only thing I loved about them was that they included Spanish number words as well. Since I have several bilingual students, I wanted to keep that feature.  I looked at the teacher stores and I couldn't find anything that really fit my needs.  Most sets were either too busy or too expensive. Again, I decided to create my own.  Once I finished creating the number cards, I decided I could create some other math resources that would match.  Here's what I ended up with:

So now, I have new number cards, a decade number chart, 50 charts, 120 charts, 200 charts, and three place value charts.  I kept the design very simple in order to keep focus on the math.  Each number card has four representations of the number: numeral, number word, ten frame, and base ten blocks.  I included the Spanish number word as well.  I'm very pleased with how they turned out and I can't wait to put them in my new classroom.  (Hopefully, very soon!) If you like them, they are available here.

Once I get into my portable, I'll post some Classroom Reveal pictures to show how my theme is coming together.  My next Getting Ready for Back to School post will focus on some of the books I'll read to set the tone for my first week.

Until then,

No comments:

Post a Comment