July 21, 2016

"Reserved" Signs: A Bulletin Board Stress Reliever

I'm going to let you in on one of my favorite classroom-decorating secrets.

I started it a few years ago after one of those "internal struggles" we all have while starting to get our classrooms ready for the new school year, which went something like this...

Carunch* Carunch*   (*stapler sound)

Whew. I'm finally finished covering these bulletin boards with this over-priced fadeless paper. 

Okay, so school starts in a week, and Meet-the-Teacher-Night is a week after that. And these walls look really... blank. 

I know that eventually I will add to the walls: anchor charts the students and I make together, procedures for Daily 5, and our best ideas and thinking and work that we produce. But I can't rush through that stuff just to get the walls covered. 

I guess I could hang up a bunch of these store-bought parts-of-speech posters left in the cabinet by the previous teacher, at which zero of my kids will ever look. At least the walls wouldn't look so bare. 

Hmm, what to do, what to do.

So, at the intersection of the aversion to throwing things up on the wall just to fill the space and the urge to fill the walls with something, I created a "reserved" poster.


The "reserved" poster is a simply-printed, single sheet of paper that I pinned to the empty bulletin board, showing students and visitors that the lack of "stuff" on the board was intentional.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ePvBTfGoXfZXVjMXJqaURtUWM/view?usp=sharing
(Download this Poster)

One thing true about the classrooms at my school is the enormous amount of bulletin board space. As a result, I'd start the year with three or four of these "reserved" signs pinned to the gaping spaces.

To visitors, especially on Meet-the-Teacher Night, the signs are unexpected, they give a little taste of what's to come, and they add a bit of humor to the classroom decor situation. 

Parents no longer try to interpret the bare walls: "Why isn't anything on the walls? Did he not have enough time to get his classroom ready? Does he have time management issues? Has the class done nothing the first week of school? Or does he have an ultra-minimal design style?" 

Instead, visitors smile at the signs and return their focus to their child.

A clever idea that shows why it's okay to start the year with bare bulletin boards! (The Thinker Builder)

I officially give you permission to start the year with some of your bulletin boards bare. And maybe all of them! Click HERE to download my "reserved" signs. I made a couple of versions for you, including black-and-white. Hopefully they lessen your classroom-decorating stress level!

*   *   *

Now, if you want to fill one of those bulletin boards, maybe with something students create to show their parents during your Open House or Back-to-School Night or your Meet-the-Teacher shin-dig, you might want to consider my Who Am I? interactive posters.


video

They make a fun back-to-school bulletin board!


The Who Am I? poster activity is part of my Back-to-School "Get to Know You" Activities pack, with seven fun and fresh activities geared to grades 3-5. It also includes "A Map of My New Classroom" activity that I've used for a bulletin board, too!


You can see more details in my TeachersPayTeachers store, right HERE.

Whether your boards are bare or full, I hope you have a great beginning of the year!


July 1, 2016

Hidden Inspirational Quotes: Add a Touch of Charm to Your Classroom

Add a touch of charm to your classroom decor with a few well-placed inspirational quotes. It's cheap, easy, and can be just as powerful as displaying them in the usual ways.
I love a good inspirational quote. 

I also like displaying them in my classroom.

But one of my favorite little tricks is to hide some quotes into the design of my classroom. It's easy, it adds a bit of charm, and it can be just as powerful as a quote displayed in a more traditional way.

See, I like to think that when one of my students notices  one of the hidden quotes, he or she must have discovered that particular quote at that particular moment for a reason. Maybe she needed a little pick-me-up. Maybe he needed a spark of motivation.

Let me show you a few ways I hide quotes around my classroom.

One place I have written a favorite quote is on the wall next to my desk, where I pin certain things like schedules and lists. You can see part of the quote in the picture above. The wall is covered with paper that looks like weathered wood, and I wrote the quote vertically along one of the planks. The quote is by Emma Lazarus and is also inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free." That one has always resonated with me as a teacher.

I wrote several quotes into the background of one corner of my classroom. Do you see them?


With a silver Sharpie, I wrote a few favorite quotes along the edge of the mountains. The one below is from Thomas Edison: "I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways that will not work."


The one below is from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."


Other quotes I have used include:

"Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." -Jon Acuff

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do." -Walt Disney

And a couple from literature:

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

"Pay close attention to everything, notice what no one else notices. Then you'll know what no one else knows, and that's always useful." -Doon's Father (The City of Ember)

I'm not saying you need to first have hugely elaborate bulletin boards or walls before you incorporate some well-placed quotes. Here are some other places to add some hidden quotes:
  • Just above, beside, or below your whiteboard
  • Above or beside your door
  • Inside cabinet doors
  • Along the edge of your guided reading table
  • On the back of a clipboard
  • On one of your meter sticks
  • On your pencil sharpener
  • Around your clock
  • On a strip of washi-tape, taped to... anything

Sometimes students notice one of the quotes, and they step up close and tilt their head, and they read it quietly and walk away. Other times students see one and point and tell me that someone wrote on my wall, and then we stop and talk about the quote and what it might mean.

Regardless, the quotes are written in a way they've not seen before, and often that's all it takes for it to make an impact, even a small, hidden one.

*   *   *

I enjoy my inconspicuous quotes, but I also like hanging a few quote posters. One of my favorite ideas is to arrange several quotes in a stylish display.

I've put together some of my very favorite quotes into coordinated sets, in a "trendy chalkboard" theme (modern colors or bright colors) and a "speech bubble" theme (juicy colors).

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Inspirational-QUOTE-WALL-Speech-Bubble-Theme-Juicy-Colors-1457782          https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Inspirational-QUOTE-WALL-Speech-Bubble-Theme-Juicy-Colors-1457782          https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Inspirational-QUOTE-WALL-Trendy-Chalkboard-Theme-Bright-Colors-1965806

All sets include 10 quotes in variety of coordinated designs, along with lots of arrangement ideas. 


Happy decorating!

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