Many Changes and Classroom Decor

As I mentioned in a previous post, my family has just made a MAJOR move. We moved all the way from Michigan to Gippsland, Australia! This move has been a long time coming, with lots of paperwork, searching, and work to facilitate the journey. I will be teaching a multiage classroom of prep/1 (kindergarten/first grade), starting in just a few days.  I am so excited to be able to learn from my new colleagues, and to notice and explore the differences in teaching here. Here is a quick look at my new classroom, which is nearly ready to go. It is actually two classrooms (used to be the library), and the space is amazing!

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I plan on having two meeting areas – one primarily for literacy instruction, and the other for math. I am hoping that the change of scenery will be refreshing for the kids throughout the day.

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There is so much that goes into setting up a space. It comes down to a mixture of your dream image of how the room looks, and what you have to work with. It my fantasy, I would have a Reggio inspired, natural classroom with lots of design features, textures, and nature. I am SO inspired by the images I borrowed from Fairy Dust Teaching. Please check out her blog and read the posts where these originated (under Explore, Reggio). My ideal classroom is something a bit like this:

reggio pretend play

reggio collections

reggio looms

reggio wood cups

reggio color

I made great strides toward this in Michigan this year. I did away with my traditional borders and backgrounds, and all of my cute cut outs. Don’t get me wrong – I always loved how they looked, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. However, I do find this natural setting to be absolutely inspiring, and ultimately that is the type of environment I want to create for my students. I want them to see the beauty and possibility in the natural world around them, and notice all of the shades and hues, textures and shapes. Here is what I created in my Michigan classroom:

I built a mobile out of sticks tied together, and then had the kids draw self portraits on circles of cardboard.

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At open house I asked parents to write a wish for their child on a piece of ribbon, and then I wove the ribbon on a loom made of sticks and twine, and displayed the collective piece outside our classroom.

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I used a lot of brown paper, fabric, reed, fake plants, shells, rope, swatches, wallpaper scraps, and netting for the bulletin boards, borders, and decor.

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These recycled frames were prepped to display student work.

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I constructed a calendar out of robe and clipped on countertop samples, which I reorganized each month.

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In the end I really loved what I created, and hoped it would inspire my students as well.

In my new classroom, things are very different. First, I am working on settling into an entirely new environment. Part of that involves knowing how and where to get things. While I can’t find card stock to save my life, there are beautiful display books available everywhere! In my new setting it will take time and collecting to create that ideal classroom environment. However, I already love the space! It may look very different from a Reggio room, but I find the student paintings on the walls, the warm and inviting meeting area, and the clean colors and lines inspiring in their own right. Of course, the ideal is always changing, and the most important component of a classroom is love and caring between the teacher and students. The rest will come along!

How have you set up your classroom? What consideration do you give to decor?

4 Responses to Many Changes and Classroom Decor

  1. Nancy Coffey January 23, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    Hi Karen-your classroom looks great and it is quite large. Best of luck with your new students! They are lucky to have such a dedicated teacher!

    • Karen Langdon January 24, 2014 at 12:41 am #

      Hi Nancy! Thanks – looking forward to meeting all the new kiddies. :)

  2. Tamara Westmoreland January 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    How exciting for you to be teaching in Australia! I had the same experience where our family was transferred to Sydney and I was able to teach in Australia for 6 years. Best of luck to you- you will love it!

    • Karen Langdon January 24, 2014 at 12:41 am #

      Thanks Tamara! How wonderful for your family. Sydney is a fantastic city! We are going to be living the country life in Gippsland. Love it already!