Making gifts for parents in the classroom is something I always struggled with as a teacher until I started making gift waffle books. They make a great decoration for the bulletin board and then, you can send them home for student o give to a parent or loved one as a gift for the holidays.
Here are the directions:
You can even use wrapping paper on the front cover to make it look more like a gift with some fancy paper. Coupon books that promise rooms getting cleaned, massages or some other special action on the part of the student make a nice touch inside the gift bag book. There are 10 different pull books to choose from for the holidays, birthday or even a blank template for students to create their own.
Bulletin Board Set
Add a cute title the a bulletin board to create a cute display for the holidays. This helps serve two purposes… a display and a gift to send home! Parents love them and students enjoy creating the craft. Place decorative bows on top for an extra special touch.
Pick a theme or color scheme that you will love all year!
Themed Classroom Decor
Picking a theme that not only you love, but inspires your students to learn is one of the most important decisions for a teacher! Your classroom decor sets the tone for your students all year. Teacher’s want it to be warm, inviting, and materials to be easily accessible to the students. Keep your theme calm, yet fun. Nicole Woody’s camping reading area is warm and inviting! What student wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book in a tent next to a camp fire?
Create a STEM Area
If you love a particular subject, make sure you incorporate your favorite subjects in a way to make you feel happy and inspired. Not only will you walk in to your classroom with an instant feeling of happiness, your students will see your passion and follow suit! Check out Lisa Taylor’s STEM area for ideas in your classroom. She also creates amazing STEM products in her TpT store! It is bright, happy and screams “MAKE SOMETHING GREAT” with the way she organizes using accessible bins with various items. This also makes clean up a snap for students to easily put materials away.
Check out The Fairy Tale Teacher’s classroom where imagination meets blooms of color to engage her students and set a happy tone to the school day! Using your imagination to design your room is a great way to model for your students how they should use their imagination. Not sure what theme to pick? Consider leaving the room a blank canvas and let the students choose a theme and maybe even a class name. You can invite the students help create the decorations or help write a grant to obtain materials they want for their room.
Bulletin Boards are the best way to spruce up a classroom! Rikki Heyman has utilized hers to make a “Smart Spot” and another to place her learning objectives, so students can clearly see the targets they should be aiming for during lessons. She said, “Creating a learning environment is a lot of work, but well worth the community I get to share it with…” Do you have a spot in your classroom for placing learning objectives? Her “Smart Spot” board is used for students to be able to locate flexible seating choices. What child wouldn’t want to be in this class?
Add Some Color
Sometimes all you need is some great colors to brighten up the walls of a dull classroom! I love the way this room utilizes colorful pompoms, blue hanging paper lanterns, various forms of lighting, and the cute chalkboard table stands. Adding pennants and lanterns are fantastic ways to transform a classroom into a positive environment for learning.
Don’t forget about your doors. They are the first thing your students will look at in the morning! Either decorate your door, or for younger students, have a choice for them to pick for a MORNING GREETING (Grab the freebie!) or GOOD BYE. If you don’t have time to greet the students in the morning, let that be a student’s job. It can change the mood of a student who had a rough start at home.
Travel the World
Want to bring Hawaii with you into the classroom for the year? Use this tropical themed classroom decor set that includes watercolors and real photos of Hawaii. Decorate some palm trees for holidays. Create a warm environment by using bamboo, beach colors and tropical decor in your classroom. Students can relax in beach chairs in the reading nook.
Colors make a Difference
Find you local home improvement store to find paint color sample strips. This will help you pick some colors that really go together, if you want to transform you classroom without having a particular themed room. You can find empty new paint cans there also. Use the paint cans as pencil holders, flower pots, spray on some chalk paint to easily use chalk to write table numbers, and use the lids for students to practice tracing circles. You can spray the lids with the same black chalk paint, add a magnet to the back and write your class schedule on the lids. So many possibilities! Whatever you decide, make it feel like your second home, because that is really what your classroom is to you and your students.
I don’t know if you like or LOVE themed days in your classroom, but I LIVED for them! Themes get kids excited, which can be exhausting, BUT they get them engaged. Don’t get upset when your kids are loud and jumping with excitement. When they are excited to learn, especially when they are having so much fun they don’t even know your academic objectives, is when you can pat yourself on the back knowing you are Teacher OF THE YEAR! My favorite theme that I used most of my career was The Polar Express. The story is perfect for squashing any “non-Santa believers” verbal language with other students who want the magic still. I’ve also used a Winter Frozen theme and a Movie Theater themed day.
The Polar Express
I’ll walk you through my typical Polar Express Day. Parents are asked to send in hot chocolate, marshmallows, and dress the kiddos in their school appropriate PJs. (Make sure you get your principal’s permission first.) In the morning, students arrive to a chalk or taped train track on the floor leading to my classroom door. At the door, they are greeted by a crazy conductor (ME), who wants to collect money or items in exchange for a golden ticket. This is really fun! It is also the time I tell parents to come and take photos. I joke around telling kids to get some money from their parents, and then settle for a shoe or pencil in exchange for a ticket.
Polar Express Ideas
When the students enter the room, they hear train sounds, see the chairs in rows (like a train), smell hot chocolate in the air, and are instructed to stay on in their train seats with their
golden ticket. After they settle, we review rules for the day. I take out a hole punch to ask for each person’s golden ticket. I pretend to punch holes in the ticket by excitedly putting the tickets under my leg, over my head or behind my back making the clicking sound. You can either collect the tickets and reuse them every year, or allow them to take them home for a keepsake.
Make a Text Connection
We read the book first. I tell them that the movie came out after the book. Students are encouraged to find differences when they watch the movie. We talk about characters, settings, problem and solutions. Next we discuss the author’s purpose. During the week they do various writing activities, but the main themed day is about keeping the excitement all day, so focus on the fun. I tell students they are going on the imagination express to take their seats on the train. After beginning the movie, I have a little cart that I keep the hot cocoa on that has wheels. When the part of the movie comes on where the kids get cocoa, I roll out the cart, I DANCE, yes, DANCE around like crazy. Before I got to old, I did cartwheels! This is always the part of the day that the kids go home telling their parents about. I have a hot cocoa maker that I use every year that makes a whole pot of cocoa. I make it really strong and mix it with water so it is not too hot. You can also just buy chocolate milk by the gallon and keep it heated in a crock pot.
After The Movie
After the kids watch the movie, we do a Venn Diagram to compare the book and the movie. I hold a bell up and ring it. I pretend like I can’t hear it, because I must be too old or not a believer. (Sniff Sniff) The rest of the day we make crafts, sing holiday songs, and usually write a letter to Santa. This way I can send the letters home to help the parents out with some gift ideas. If you are looking for a fun themes holiday day, The Polar Express just may be your ticket!
I haven’t posted lately because I was on my dream vacation in Hawaii! It was everything I imagined and more. The pictures don’t do it justice at all. Although Waikiki and Honolulu were a bit more commercialized than I expected, I found one island just amazing! My favorite island was Maui. If you love tropical vacations, like I do, it is an experience of a life time. I live in Florida, so I’m use to the beach life. The Road to Hana, hidden waterfalls, legends, Poke Bowls, caves, rain forest, volcano, spectacular snorkel spots, and friendly locals made a magical trip for my family. The trip hit the wallet a little harder than I expected even with all the research I did prior to the trip, but it was well worth it. Now, I have so many ideas for a new classroom decor!
Every corner I found inspiration for new #TpT products. I took a lot of pictures to create a tropical classroom decor pack that I can’t wait to see come to life. So far I have made a Hawaiian themed Color Word Posters and a Word Wall Banner Set. These will become part of a Hawaiian Theme Classroom Decor BUNDLE… COMING SOON. Go check them out though, if you are thinking about a beach classroom theme for your classroom. One of our favorite hidden lunch places that we just happened to stumble upon is called The Garden Terrace at Kula Lodge! Eat outside while enjoying the spectacular entire west side of Maui view. They have an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven that my kids still talk about today! Mama’s Fish House Restaurant was our favorite place on the island for catching a view of Maui’s amazing sunsets. The food is absolute terrific! You can find some of the sunset pictures in the new calendar pack I’m in the process of making that will be part of the set. I rarely post pictures of my family on my blog, but here is one showing the beautiful sunset.
Check back in the future for blogs on the new Hawaii Themed Decor Sets that I will have up in my Teacher’s Brain store soon. As they say in Hawaii… Mahalo!!!!