As the beginning of the school year is fast approaching, have you thought of a theme for your classroom? If so, how will you be decorating your room/learning areas (i.e. reading center/writing.etc.). Do you change your theme from year to year?
I'm doing a jungle theme this year, but I've had others in the past depending upon what grade I teach. I prefer to stay in 3rd now, so I hope to keep my jungle theme for a while!
My other themes were:
jungle (did it several years ago)
My room will be decorated by:
*Reading Corner - vines hanging from ceiling, animal print body pillows to sit on, a few stuffed and blow-up animals.
*Door - brown and green backing, vines hanging from frame, monkeys with kids' names on them hanging from the door, "swinging into 3rd grade" as title
*Word wall - leaves showing the letters, either brown paper as backing, or jungle border to frame the words (not sure which I like better yet) under each letter, "wild about words" as the title
*Information Hut - brown paper as backing, raffia as top (to look like a hut), this is where my menu, calender, etc... go, "Information Hut" titled at top.
*Cubbies - on top I have a rainforest scene (bought) that will go there, and I have stuffed animals to put there.
*Social Contract - Not sure what shape yet, but probably a leaf - possibly an animal if I can make it look right!
*Job chart - Yellow background with Green letters, clothespins to show child's name, titled "Jungle Jobs"
I honestly do not see the point in having a theme. I'm sure the students find it interesting, but to me it's one of those things that are fun but very time consuming, expensive, and not completely worth it. It seems like it could be a big distraction and cause students (and myself) to be visually overwhelmed.
Instead, I prefer my classroom to be "homey" and relaxing. I have a lamp, candles (I don't burn them, but they have a nice feel to them), flowers, plants, curtains, etc. I hang framed pictures of famous art to go along with the time period we're studying. I prefer this over a theme because it seems more relaxing and comfortable.
I'm going into my first full year of teaching, and will incorporate a jungle feel to my room as well. I chose the jungle theme because I will be introducing Tribes and grouping students into them, and think it will fit well.
My reading corner and two small bulletin boards will support most of the theme, along with real and fake plants around the room. My large bulletin board will the one I change most often to support whatever we're learning, so it will be theme-less, so to speak.
I like the idea of having a room that students can identify with and help create a sense of unity. We have ten 4th grade classes in our building. Some do themes, others do not, but I like the idea. Plus, it give me a sense of uniformity going into this first year!
I LOVE having a theme in my classroom! I change mine every two to three years. The main reason I do the same theme consecutively: throughout the school year & summer I'm always coming up w/ or finding new ideas to add to the theme to make it even better! And I always find someway to relate it back to our curriculum.
This year I'm doing a survivor theme, but in the past I've done a Hollywood theme (lot's of fun!), Groovy 70's theme, and a pond theme. My students always enjoy my classroom; in fact, they often come back to visit just to check out the room, especially my reading center.
Other great themes I've considered: jungle/safari, around the world, beach/island, under the sea, and sports.
I like things like you do-homey with a few touches along the way that change with the seasons. Easy and familiar. Sadly, the classroom may look more homey with this type theme than the students' own homes.
homey would be my theme, too. Hmmm, never thought of it that way! I don't do themes, either. They take a lot of time and effort. I also find that they can be visually distracting for me and for my students. Sometimes I think kids (and myself) need some visual white space to rest my eyes and mind. Too many decorations on the walls and ceiling make a room too busy. But to those who like themes, great! I like to read about your ideas!
I have a theme to welcome the kids and do some first week "community-building" activities. Last year, I used flip flops and the beach. This year, I'm using a movie star theme. I met next year's students at our moving up day, and I took digital pictures of them wearing a pair of glasses that had the year on them, and holding a prop similar to what a director would use for the "takes". This is going to go on the door. My first bulletin board will tie in with this somehow. After that though, I am with the people who don't do themes but create a homey environment. My classroom is very small, and crowded with all our materials. It also doesn't have a lot of bulletin board space, which is both a blessing and a curse!
Doing a beach/island theme lends itself to a wide variety of fun decorations, and into some educational topics (research islands near your area, islands around the world, ocean unit, etc.).
Attention Getter when class is working in groups:
Teacher says "Surfs Up!"
Students respond "Hang Ten!" and then stop what they're doing to listen to your instructions.
couple of lawn chairs for the kids to earn the privilege to sit in
large beach umbrella to "shade" the area (If you're worried about students messing w/ umbrella, you could suspend it from the ceiling in a corner of your room and then anchor the pole to the wall.)
beach towels for students to "lounge" around the room & read (could earn this as a privilege as well)
Sayings for this area:
"Sink your teeth into a great book!" (Bulletin board in area could have a blow up shark or photo/poster of shark. Students could then write book titles of novels they've read on shark cut outs to add to the BB.)
"'R & R' Relaxing and Reading at the Beach"
use hula/grass skirts to trim around the edge of your desk or as "curtains" over your window
tropical light strands (flamingos, palm trees, pineapples, etc.) -- Garden Ridge, party stores, and oriental trading carry these
flip flops and other island wearables (Hawaiian shirts, swim shorts, leis)
I have a LOT of other ideas for this theme, if you would like more info. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, check this and other boards (BB/Theme board) and the archives for lots of other great ideas for this theme.
I'm doing a Survivor theme, too! I did it last year and I think it is so fun. I know I'm crazy, but I've already been up to school decorating. Some of the things I'm doing are: grass/flower skirts around my desk and large tables, tiki torches hanging from the ceiling on either side of the door, mini-tiki torches on the bookshelves, tiki men decorations on the wall, palm tree hanging in the corner with parrots and toucans around it, animal print border with black fabric as the background, an "information hut" bulletin board made out of raffia for stuff like schedule and lunch menu, a bulletin board labeled "Survivor Skills", a bulletin board labeled "Postcards from the Edge" (for postcard exchange), and a bulletin board labeled "Survivor of the Week". I know there's more, but that's what is done so far. I think I get a bit carried away with the whole theme thing. Anyway......
Oh, I'm also going to have weekly "Tribal Council" meetings. I'm playing Homeworkopoly and I've changed the name to Survivoropoly. I also thought that we would have weekly challenges for reviews, etc.
I guess I'm just curious as to what types of things are you doing. Have fun!
I love your ideas, especially "postcards from the edge"! You sound a lot like me, only I'm jealous that you're already up at your school decorating. My school is under construction, so I can't get in until the first week of Aug., at the earliest! Usually I'm up at school off and on throughout the summer.
However, I decided TODAY to change my theme. Yikes! I'm going to do "Wonders of the World" instead of the survivor theme. I'm still a big fan of the survivor theme. Using the wonders theme (7 wonders of ancient world, 7 wonders of modern world, etc.) we are going to "discover" "wonders" within ourselves, our town, state, and country. I also plan to use the theme as a culminating activity w/ units. Ex: Plant Unit: What are the 7 Wonders of the plant world?
Keep me posted on your survivor room. It sounds like you have some wonderful ideas!
I am a first year teacher and will be teaching a group of about 20 sixth graders. I have been trying to come up with a theme for my classroom and I am really considering the survivor theme. I have been surfung the web to get some inexpensive ideas. Any suggestions?
Really great ideas Jen L. Since I have tables in my room I plan on letting each table be a tribe. They get to come up with their own tribe name. I am going to purchase bandanas of different colors for each table also. I also read somewhere to go to a carpet store and get the big rolls that carpet comes on and let each tribe create their own totem pole. Instead of tests I will have challenges. I plan on creating some kind of immunity space to use as a reward instead of punishment.