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Going Places with a Journey-Themed Classroom

By Shari Edwards on August 13, 2013
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

When I decided to give my classroom a "Journey" theme last year, it didn’t take me long to realize how rich and adaptable it would be. I began developing my theme a few months before school started and had time to ask friends for help in gathering some of what I needed while they were doing their summer traveling.  They brought me maps and travel brochures and several beautiful, old suitcases that were being discarded.


 

 

Journey Décor

  • Old Suitcases — Use these in place of small tables. I find they also make great for extra storage, too!
  • Globes — You will want a large and current globe for geographical studies, but also look for small, individual globes to place around the room.
  • Maps and Travel Brochures — Laminate these and they will last for several years.
  • Map Carpets — I have one large, colorful map of the United States, and a smaller one from a toy store that is meant to be used with toy cars.
  • Luggage Tags — I place these tags on lanyards for hall and restroom passes.
  • Directional Tools — Use compasses, direction signs, and other travel motif items throughout the classroom.
  • Student List — Outside the door, above a little bench where another suitcase sits, my students names are listed on a poster titled “Passenger List.”
  • Bulletin Boards — These are reserved for maps and displays about places and travels.

 

stuffed bear in New York garb sitting in front of books about New York

Learning Through the Journey Theme

  • Journey Bear — This is a stuffed bear that has traveled thousands of miles with me. I use him to engage my students in learning to read maps and also in counting lessons.
  • Postcards  — Each month my students write a short entry in a notebook about their trip through 2nd grade. At the end of the year, we turn these notebooks into a travel book.
  • Concierge — Each day, one student assumes the role of our daily classroom helper, or concierge. This student is responsible for all jobs during that day and for keeping our travel log
  • Packing Our Skills for the Year — At the first of the year, we use this unit to jump start our skills for the year.
  • Music with a travel or location theme — I brought New York State of Mind, a book by Billy Joel that includes a CD of the song by the same name he wrote and recorded. My students love to practice their handwriting with this song in the background and they now have a copy of the lyrics in their notebooks so they can follow along. Look for a future post on using different genres of music in the classroom.
  • Souvenirs — I use a representative object from each unit that I display in the classroom as a reminder of where we have been during the year.

postcard from the first week of second grade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incorporating Journey Vocabulary Every Day

After reviewing the dictionary definitions of various travel-related words, we then use them as part of our classroom nomenclature. Below is a sampling of how we incorporate them.

  • Expedition — field trip
  • Itinerary — schedule
  • Routes — paths we take to get around the building
  • Check-in — morning
  • Take-off  — go home
  • Excursion — reward time
  • Travel Guide — textbook
  • Plotting our Course — goal setting
  • Bon Voyage — farewell to moving student
  • Time Travel — studying and reading about historical events

Additinally, there are many travel words on my list that I intersperse in conversations and lessons as I teach.

stacked suitcases with miniature trunk holding maps and travel information

It should be evident by now why I enjoy this theme so much. This is my second year of using it and I find new ways to incorporate it in my classroom every week.

Do you have a theme that motivates you and your students? Please comment and share your favorite classroom theme with us.

Comments (10)

Also calling lost and found "Baggage Claim" :)

Hi Jane!
That is a great idea! Do you mind if I borrow it? I keep a running list on a page on my blog. Here is the url. http://ponderingpedagogy.blogspot.com/p/a-place-for-me-to-work-on-my-journey.html Have a wonderful year. I will continue to update my list through the year.

What a fantastic idea! I have also been thinking about how to incorporate a travel theme in my classroom. I've been creating a way to include passports and have students get a stamp once they master a certain skill/unit.

Please post more ways that you have used this theme throughout the year! I'm looking forward to reading more entries!

Have a great year.

Jane

Very useful information.

Very useful information.

I have been preparing for a TRAVEl theme but JOURNEY seems to be a better one!
I have most of the materials and then some.
Thanks!

great! love this!! im using this for my classroom in china for "travel the world with English"

thank you so much

Hi Lee! Please share what you come up with. I'd love to see it!

Love it!!!

Thanks Marilyn!

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