You know how some classrooms grab your attention as soon as you walk in? You can tell immediately that this is a place where kids are excited about learning, where creativity is welcomed, and where ideas are shared. You probably already have that kind of a classroom,* but you are probably also always on the lookout for new ideas, hence the inspiration for this series.
This is the first in a series about how to add creativity and critical thinking to your classroom environment – the walls, the desks, the book area, and of course the door, which is where I am starting, because that is where everyone comes in!
On the Outside
If you teach in a school where you are allowed to decorate the outside of your door, then by all means, do! Here are some ideas to consider:
- The picture above features kid-generated ways to say hello. The class was celebrating the 100th day of school, so there must be 100 of them! Always great to incorporate student work. I think it gives students a feeling of pride and ownership in their classroom.
- Doing a creative project in which each child’s name is displayed is a great way to start the year. My favorite is the giant puzzle – cut a large piece of white butcher paper into enough jigsaw puzzle pieces so each student has one. Students (or you, if they are very young) write their names in the center and then decorate any way they wish. Then they work together to assemble the puzzle, and you put it on the door. Decorating stars with names is another nice approach.
- How about having your students decorate the letters in WELCOME TO OUR CLASS (or the room number, or teacher’s name)?
- When I had a classroom, I always posted a copy of Shel Silverstein’s poem Invitation on the door (I copied the original from the book and enlarged it on the copier). I think it sets a nice tone.
On the Inside
Kids spend a lot of time looking at the door. They line up there and wait quite a bit. They probably stare at it a lot in the few minutes before the recess bell rings, so why not give them something interesting to look at?
- I didn’t know what this door was at first. Turns out it’s a plant cell, because Kila Young’s 5th graders were studying cells. How clever is that? Consider changing your door with your units.
- Other interesting things to look at: optical illusions, brain teasers, or inspirational quotes of the day.
- Try a magnetic whiteboard – write a daily or weekly student poll or would you rather question, and have students move magnetic name tags to their choice.
- Another idea for that whiteboard – divide it into areas with a different emotion in each one (basic ones like sad, happy, angry, tired, etc. work well). Have each student put his/her name strip in whichever space fits his/her current emotional state. Strips can be moved as emotions change. Gives you and your students a nice little window into the emotional climate of the class, and it might even help you to alter your teaching style or lesson plan to fit how kids are feeling.
Don’t forget to take a peek at the rest of The Creative Classroom Series!
Please feel free to share your ideas, and be sure and check back tomorrow when we move on to….the floor!
*I suspect that those teachers with ultra-neat classrooms, bare walls, and desks that are lined up in neat rows are not big fans of Minds in Bloom.