Sometime this week there be a sweet treat,

A cool character for you all to meet

Let’s see if we can figure out

Who it is without a doubt

So let us explore,

Let us learn more

 

Clue number one

The character is from a book, isn’t that fun?

Clue number two

He’s a peddler, selling things is what he’s meant to do.

Clue number three

He decides to take a nap under a tree.

Clue number four

But the monkeys have something in store!

 

Ridiculously Needy Mouse

Character 13

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Book Synopsis: A boy gives a mouse a cookie and finds out that doing one thing leads to another!

Instructional Focus: (Numbers are for the Virginia Standards of Learning, generally Reading/English)

Cause and Effect (4.5G, 5.5J) Problem and Solution(2.8F, 3.5H, 4.5E)  Predictions (K9C, 1.9D, 2.8A, 3.5C, 4.5I, 5.5K)

Creating the Costume: A tan shirt with tan tights plus those overalls again brought this costume together.  Once again, felt, hot glue and a headband we used to make the ears.

Delivery:  I’ve used this book for what seems like ages to work on cause and effect.  It uses a lot of if/then so it’s easy for the students to determine cause and effect.  It’s also a fun text structure for students to follow in order to write their own “If you give _____ a _______.” story.

Sometime this week there be a sweet treat,

A cool character for you all to meet

Let’s see if we can figure out

Who it is without a doubt

So let us explore,

Let us learn more

 

Clue number one

The character is from a book, isn’t that fun?

Clue number two

He’ll ask for one thing but he’s not through…

Clue number three

There are many more things he wants you see…

Clue number four

He may be small but he wants more and more!

 

Creating Calm with Color and Covers

The last few posts on décor looked at barren vs. bursting classrooms and left off saying that we would give some ideas on putting it all into practice.  How can we decorate our classrooms so we create a home for our students where we all want to be without overloading our senses, ourselves or our wallets?

Color

     Picking Your Colors:  Sticking to no more than two main or base colors with perhaps one other color ‘pops” will help create consistency and knit your classroom together.  Even if this is all you do, sticking to a color scheme helps tie your classroom together.  Limiting the number of colors you use also helps reduce the amount of visual distractors in your room.  As a side note, having to stick to a limited number of colors keeps you from buying every classroom organization basket or bin you see.  If it’s not your color, you can’t get it.  Using your school colors helps connect your classroom with your larger community.

Cover

     Covering your Boards: An easy way to cover your bulletin boards with something that lasts and is relatively maintenance free is to use fabric.  Paper fades and can be a pain to get on without ripping.  Also, if you are in the habit of changing what is actually on your bulletin boards through the year, then fabric holds up better than paper when dealing with multiple staples or tacks.  You’ll spend more on fabric, but you can use it year to year. You could go with purchasing fabric by the yard, or go with buying flat bedsheets. If you want to go with some sort of pattern rather than a solid color you have to consider how visually stimulating and distracting the pattern is.  A high contrast or visually busy pattern can make it difficult for anyone to actually focus on what you are putting on the board.

 Here’s an example of a fabric to avoid.  While it does seem bright and sunny and easy to find a color in it to capitalize elsewhere, there is simply too much going on with the variety of colors and shapes. 

You may scoff at using this fabric for any purpose, but Aileen totally made a pair of pants using something very similar in middle school home ec, and they were FABULOUS!     

Here’s another example of a fabric. At first glance, it avoids some of the pitfalls of the last one.  It sticks to just two colors and just one shape.  However, the high contrast and high number of shapes can make this pattern a poor choice on a large scale.

     One way to avoid a too distracting pattern for your fabric is to simply pick a solid color.  If you absolutely must have some sort of pattern (like we do) go for one that does not have high contrast between the colors or too much going on in the way of shapes.

Something like these give you some pattern without being too distracting.

Calm

Ultimately though it comes down to what you want, what you need and how much money and time you can invest.  Whatever you do to your classroom, it’s your and your student’s home away from home for long stretches of time so it has to work for you!  Next up we’ll have some picture tours of our own classrooms so you can see how we put it all together. Processed with Rookie

Corduroy

Character 12


Corduroy by Don Freeman

Book Synopsis: A bear loses his button and searches the department store at night to find it.

Instructional Focus: (Numbers are for the Virginia Standards of Learning, generally Reading/English)

Reading: Compare and Contrast (1.9F, 2.8E, 3.5D,4.5K,5.5l 5.5B) Math: Categorizing/ Measurement (Compare Corduroy to other bears) Problem and Solution,(2.8F, 3.5H, 4.5E)

Creating the Costume: Once again, an old white shirt dyed brown was used, along with brown tights and a green corduroy dress I stole from my mother (whenever she sees it she gushes about how great it was for when she worked as a kindergarten aide back in the late 90s.)  The ears are the usual hot glue, felt and headband.

Delivery:  We had started working on figurative language with some of my older students, and Corduroy was a good example of personification.  Other groups compared Corduroy with other bears Lisa could have bought.  Problem and solution was another thing we worked on with this book.

Sometime this week there be a sweet treat,

A cool character for you all to meet

Let’s see if we can figure out

Who it is without a doubt

So let us explore,

Let us learn more

 

Clue number one

The character is from a book, isn’t that fun?

Clue number two

He’s a bear that’s not quite new.

Clue number three

He ends up doing a little sightsee.

Clue number four

He looks for a button and finds something more!

 

Less. Barren Bastions?

Most teachers I know who go with more barren or streamlined classrooms usually say they just don’t have time or money to go for elaborate themes.  This is 110% legitimate. While there are a lot of time and money saving décor tips, it’s going to take some time and some money to give your classroom a theme.  So I have to wonder if it is worth it.  While I love the themes I wrote about in my last post, is there something to the other side?  Is there something more to going less, something other than time or money?

     There is some research out there about “calming” the classroom and promoting less in terms of decorations.  For years, Montessori schools have been going with relatively understated décor sensibilities.  Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have gone even further, and have recently published a paper in Psychological Science called “Visual Environment, Attention Allocation, and Learning in Young Children.” (Yes, I am the nerd who looks up scholarly articles to justify saving money and make myself feel guilty over my classroom decorations.)  These researchers looked at two groups of kindergarteners, ones in a typically decorated room and one in a classroom with less.  They found that students who were in the more decorated room were more distracted and off task.  This makes sense if the teacher is competing with the room to gain the student’s attention.

     An earlier article “Consider the Walls” published in Young Children by Dr. Patricia Tarr is even more scathing when it comes to what goes on the walls of a classroom.  While at first blush, the article comes off as quite harsh (and how much teacher/student observation was happening as she was counting the number of decorations in the room?), it is a compelling read that forces you to reconsider what you do put on your walls.

Less vs. More?

     Considering that in special education we work with some students who struggle to attend to information and can get overwhelmed with too much environmental stimulus, it is important that we put even more thought into our classrooms.  We also have students who might need more visual stimuli and exposure to information to help retain information.  We’ve also got to contend with making sure our classrooms are universally accessible to students who may have unique mobility needs. (Yes, I’ve had to completely rearrange the furniture when a student kept landing in a wheelchair due to his rambunctiousness outside of school.) If you’re anything like me, you’ve also got to consider having to move from classroom to classroom each year and dealing with having less and less space to work with.  

So those are the ends of our spectrum, what’s the application? How can it be balanced out? Check out our next decor post for some ideas on putting these ideas into practice as well as some things to avoid!