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June 26, 2018

Classroom Theme With Classroom Community in Mind

By Julie Ballew
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    So many teachers are so great at creating gorgeous classrooms around a specific theme. Maybe you love pirates or superheroes. Perhaps you’re passionate about Harry Potter or Greek mythology. However you decide to design your classroom, remember a great theme is so much more than decorations; it can help you rally your kids around a singular mission that you can come back to all year long. For me, that mission is a strong classroom community.

    Build Your Team

    Personally, I love bright colors, so I decorate my classroom accordingly. Scholastic has a great line called “Tape It Up!” that is right up my alley. This year, I plan to use several pieces from the collection to carry my theme throughout the classroom.

    I have specific plans for the accents, which I can write my students names on before using them to select random groups. I could ask them to find a group of people with orange buttons, or a group with green tape or a pink border. This is just one way we can mix it up to find new friends to work with at any given time. I’ll definitely use this to sort students into random groups for team-building activities.

    Start Off On the Same Page

    It's important that everyone knows what is expected in your classroom from the very first day. This Class Expectations chart makes it clear what behavior we can expect from others and what we should each be aiming for.

    It Takes a Village...

    Besides learning, there are many, many logistical tasks that need to be performed each day to maintain a well-oiled classroom. Enlisting students in these routine duties carries multiple benefits. First, it ensures that students have a vested interest in their surroundings. It also reinforces the need to work together to accomplish a common goal, thus contributing to the idea of community. And — of no small value — it helps YOU run an efficient classroom effectively without suffering teacher burnout. Display your Class Jobs bulletin board in a prominent place where students will see how they're expected to help out each week — or however often you switch up jobs.

    Having a cohesive look contributes to the overall harmony of our environment. But the real value in finding a décor line such as the Tape It Up!, is how you can apply it to your classroom management throughout the year. The ever-important tracking of birthdays is accomplished in vivid color with a kit that includes cards and a banner. Keeping your daily schedule visible helps students feel more secure and prepared in knowing what is happening when. The fact that it is a write-on/wipe-off schedule makes swapping out projects and activities super easy.

     

    In the early days of the school year, I tend to choose activities that are less focused on getting to know random facts about one another and more focused on working together. I think students can learn a lot about each other very quickly if they have to collaborate on a common goal. The beginning of the year is a great time to have them get into groups to solve problems or complete tasks. You might give them a handful of supplies like toothpicks and paper, and see who can make the tallest tower. Feeling fancy? Throw in some marshmallows too!

    If you want to extend the challenge for older students or make some early math connections, set up the supplies in a “store” and give them a budget to spend. Then they’ll have to work together to plan their design and make a shopping list before they ever start building.

    There are so many ways to spend your time as the new school year looms near. This year, put community at the top of your list, choose a product line that fits your personality, and watch everything else fall right into place.

    (Pro tip: Scholastic has several sets of coordinated decorations that can take a lot of guesswork out of choosing a theme! Check them out by clicking on the photo below.)

    So many teachers are so great at creating gorgeous classrooms around a specific theme. Maybe you love pirates or superheroes. Perhaps you’re passionate about Harry Potter or Greek mythology. However you decide to design your classroom, remember a great theme is so much more than decorations; it can help you rally your kids around a singular mission that you can come back to all year long. For me, that mission is a strong classroom community.

    Build Your Team

    Personally, I love bright colors, so I decorate my classroom accordingly. Scholastic has a great line called “Tape It Up!” that is right up my alley. This year, I plan to use several pieces from the collection to carry my theme throughout the classroom.

    I have specific plans for the accents, which I can write my students names on before using them to select random groups. I could ask them to find a group of people with orange buttons, or a group with green tape or a pink border. This is just one way we can mix it up to find new friends to work with at any given time. I’ll definitely use this to sort students into random groups for team-building activities.

    Start Off On the Same Page

    It's important that everyone knows what is expected in your classroom from the very first day. This Class Expectations chart makes it clear what behavior we can expect from others and what we should each be aiming for.

    It Takes a Village...

    Besides learning, there are many, many logistical tasks that need to be performed each day to maintain a well-oiled classroom. Enlisting students in these routine duties carries multiple benefits. First, it ensures that students have a vested interest in their surroundings. It also reinforces the need to work together to accomplish a common goal, thus contributing to the idea of community. And — of no small value — it helps YOU run an efficient classroom effectively without suffering teacher burnout. Display your Class Jobs bulletin board in a prominent place where students will see how they're expected to help out each week — or however often you switch up jobs.

    Having a cohesive look contributes to the overall harmony of our environment. But the real value in finding a décor line such as the Tape It Up!, is how you can apply it to your classroom management throughout the year. The ever-important tracking of birthdays is accomplished in vivid color with a kit that includes cards and a banner. Keeping your daily schedule visible helps students feel more secure and prepared in knowing what is happening when. The fact that it is a write-on/wipe-off schedule makes swapping out projects and activities super easy.

     

    In the early days of the school year, I tend to choose activities that are less focused on getting to know random facts about one another and more focused on working together. I think students can learn a lot about each other very quickly if they have to collaborate on a common goal. The beginning of the year is a great time to have them get into groups to solve problems or complete tasks. You might give them a handful of supplies like toothpicks and paper, and see who can make the tallest tower. Feeling fancy? Throw in some marshmallows too!

    If you want to extend the challenge for older students or make some early math connections, set up the supplies in a “store” and give them a budget to spend. Then they’ll have to work together to plan their design and make a shopping list before they ever start building.

    There are so many ways to spend your time as the new school year looms near. This year, put community at the top of your list, choose a product line that fits your personality, and watch everything else fall right into place.

    (Pro tip: Scholastic has several sets of coordinated decorations that can take a lot of guesswork out of choosing a theme! Check them out by clicking on the photo below.)

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