For the past few months, I have had the opportunity to visit many different classrooms. It has been a real treat to see all of the creativity that many teachers put into their classroom environments. One particular classroom that stands out in my mind is a fourth grade room I visited. This classroom was so creatively designed, it sparked my need to write about it and classroom themes. The teacher had gotten really creative and made a really cool environment for her students. Her theme was nothing I had even seen before, but I loved it. The theme was…surfing. This totally had won over her students. Here are some of the things she had incorporated in her room…

Surf Theme:

  • Student “name tags” were small pictures of ocean creatures (Post-it size) and were put on the back of the students’ chairs. Some of the pictures were of shells, crabs, jellyfish, etc.
  • The main areas of the daily schedule were written on surf boards she had cut out of tag paper, wrote on (recess, DEAR, writing, etc.), and then laminated
  • Her “Student of the Day” was referred to as the “Big Kahuna”
  • Her cubby area was lined with a wallpaper border that featured a beach scene with surf boards lined up
  • She had a Styrofoam Buggie Board that took her lunch count. She had each food option printed and laminated and then stuck with Velcro to the board. Then there were places for each kid to put his/her name under each to show the Big Kahuna what they wanted for lunch that day. What an easy way to take lunch count. *This school provided many choices for lunch.
  • She had almost an entire wall covered with this beautiful ocean background with some posters here and there of beach scenes. I think she said she had purchased this at the Lakeshore store.
  • Using some of that thick poster board with the foam in the middle of it, she took a large-pieced underwater scene puzzle that she would Velcro on piece by piece (to the board) every time the class received a compliment or did a good deed. Once the board is full with the puzzle pieces, the class gets to choose a reward.

Honey Bee’s:

This is a theme I have used for several years with first graders. I love nature and sharing that love with my students. So, I try to incorporate it throughout everything I do the whole year. I begin the school year with the study of bee’s. I teach the kids how bee’s work and live together in community and relate that to our classroom community. I, of course, am the queen bee and the worker bee’s (the students) work to please the queen. The kids are taught that when the queen is happy, the workers are rewarded! Ways that I incorporate this theme are…

  • I have a helper chart that is in the shape of a bee hive. Individual bees are laminated and each one has a student’s name on it. Each week, worker bee’s are chosen to help with special jobs within our hive.
  • I also nominate a “Bee of the Week”. That bee is allowed to choose which job they would like (most choose line leader), help the teacher with little things that come up, read a book to the class on Friday, and create a poster to share with the class.
  • The first week of school, I teach the children about bees and how they function as a community. At the end of our study, I have the children write a few sentences on “bee paper” to show what they have learned about bees. I then use these summaries to make a bulletin board display that reads, “Sweet Beeginnings From the First Grade Hive”.
  • I found these printable name tags with the bee theme at the ABCTeach website.
  • Throughout the school year, I keep bee related items in the “Science Center”. For example, I have a huge hornets nest that a friend found and donated to my classroom. I also have a few bumble bees that are encased as well as a few pieces of a bee hive that shows how the honeycombs are structured-kids are really amazed by this. It also provides a strong example of how shapes and patterns exist in nature.
  • As part of my classroom management “system”, I use a critter keeper to hold the names of kids that are caught “Beeing Good”. I will keep the keeper in a place where students can participate in catching their friends. At the end of the week, I take the names out and offer treasures to the students who have their name in the keeper.
  • The bee theme extends to my weekly newsletter. It is titled, The Buzz and it highlights all the work we are engaging in each week.

What theme(s) do you use for your classroom?