Back to School Room Themes - 3 key things to remember!

So..... it's that time of year folks!  Many teachers have already have done it, some are currently in the midst of doing it and many are planning to do it!! 

What strange thing could teachers be up to?!! 

Spot on - decorating your classroom!

Why do we do it though? I was always crazily obsessed with organizing my classroom - I loved getting everything just right for the next set of newcomers - it was always my favorite time of year. My room always felt like a home from home - it was our space and I was very territorial - lol!  I would look at those blank walls and bulletin boards and wonder what I could conjure up that would engage my students and make them feel comfortable and at home. 
My room tended to reflect my personality, but more profoundly my teaching style and ethos.  I love a fresh start and have always been drawn to color and creating special areas and seating so that every child could be comfortable.
Over the years I have had a mish mash of anything and everything that caught my eye.  Students were beyond organized, as was my classroom set up, but everything else was a bit random!  One evening, whilst reading a teacher blog, I saw a room reveal for the first time and was left with my mouth hanging open!!  I had never, in all my years of teaching, seen a completely coordinated room theme - I honestly did not know it was a 'thing'!!  Of course - I caught the bug - lol!
But then, I had to explore a bit further!  I found some research which suggests that there are certain types of decorations that supplement daily learning, and certain types of decorations that detract from daily learning. Which ones do you have?
It isn't just about the atmosphere - we want to make sure that our decor goes some way to enhancing student learning.  I think we sometimes underestimate the long-term impact of what hangs on the walls - we want students to feel a sense of community and ownership.

Three key things to remember:

1. Passive absorption of information:  if students are engaged in different areas of the room, what will they see?  Posters, signs, materials that reinforce learning or meaningless colorful decor?

2. Student work:  leave a space to display their work.  It is such a postive affirmation of how hard they have tried - they will feel a sense of pride and ownership.  Don't just choose the best work for administrators to admire, choose the best work for that student - celebrate their best efforts publicly.

3. Sense of community: everyone can see those walls!  Hang visuals that contribute to a sense of belonging and mutual understanding.  Ask students what they would like to see - do they want their goals to be posted?  Do they want to ask questions? Do they want to compliment someone? Ask for their ideas, so they feel that this is their space too.

I have seen many rooms with lots of cute things and have admired the complete scene from a creative perspective, but we have to remember to ask ourselves if there is value in what is hanging from the ceiling for example, or is it just a colorful distraction for students to try and take a swipe at!  We want classroom decor to invigorate and assist student learning.

I currently use a Safari Room Theme in my first grade classroom, but I have also created many more.  They all contain approx.170 pages and include the following files:

  • Alphabet Posters (Print)
  • 2D Shape Posters
  • Days and Months, plus 'Today is'; 'Tomorrow will be' and 'Yesterday was'
  • Calendar Numbers and 20 Special Days
  • Wordwall (Upper and Lower Case)
  • Number Word Cards (one-twenty)
  • Ten Frame Posters (1-10)
  • Welcome to K-5th (just in case!) Grade Postcards
  • Birthday Certificate
  • Large Schedule Headers
  • Schedule Cards
  • 100/120 Chart
  • Word Help Mat
  • Welcome Banner
  • Bulletin Board Border
  • Nameplates
  • Various sized labels suitable for cubby tags, book baskets/bins signs, centers etc
  • Letter Stationery Template
  • Newsletter Template - I have included 2 versions: color/blackline
  • Birthday Chart

  • Labels
  • Nameplates
  • Schedule Cards
  • Special Days
  • Letter Stationery
  • Newsletter template - I have included 2 versions: color/blackline

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