There are many important things that make up a modern classroom. In addition to having great curriculum, you need to have the tools and centers necessary for proper learning.
Interest centers, or learning centers, are spaces that are set aside in the classroom to provide your students with access to learning materials. If you’re thinking about adding learning centers to your classroom, you might not be sure where to start. Here are some ideas on how to create interest centers for the modern classroom.
Design an Inviting Space
Give your students a comfortable area where they can go to learn. A table and chairs, a beanbag chair, or a cozy nook with pillows will make your students want to visit the learning center.
Here are some common parts of a learning center:
A title to identify the center for what it is
Space for keeping things that you need to use in the center
Storage bins or boxes for keeping everything tidy
Materials needed for using in the center
Instructions on how to use things in that particular center
Learning alternatives in case some tasks in the center are too difficult for some students
Make the Space Visually Appealing
Students will be more likely to use the interest center you’ve created for them if it’s visually appealing. Consider how you will do this. For example, you might make your learning center autumn-themed with colorful leaves. If possible, you might even include some pop culture in your interest center. Keep in mind that bright colors are more likely to catch your students’ attention.
Create a Fun Learning Space
Your students aren’t going to want to visit the learning center you’ve created for them if they find it boring. Find ways to deliver the material you want them to learn in a fun, unique way. For example, you might consider creating a game for them to play.
There are many different types of learning centers you can create in your modern classroom. Let’s take a look at some examples of them:
Enrichment centers – Enrichment centers will give students a variety of learning activities to go along with the common unit of learning. This could be building something, designing an observation kit, exploring news articles on topics that affect our world today or painting a mural.
Skill centers – Skill centers, as the name implies, are used after the initial teaching concept is in place. Then, your students can practice the skills they have just used and apply them practically, helping to solidify what they have learned.
These are just some ideas on how to create interest centers for the modern classroom!
If you are celebrating Halloween this year, scare up some excitement with these kid-friendly Halloween books that will thrill and delight kids of all ages. Take a trip to your school or community library to gather a few popular Halloween books. You'll find some not-too-scary picture books, tales about runaway pumpkins, big pumpkins, too many pumpkins, bats, scarecrows, and of all things, and a story about a friendly witch who shares her broom with others.
Here are 5 Thrilling Books to Read Aloud:
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman.With the rhythm and repetition that children love, this book tells a story about a witch who, through her encounter with a ghost, vampire, bat, and mummy, discovers both the value of cooperating and the joy of sharing. The beautiful paintings make this story come alive for children of all ages.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White.This is a cute story about Rebecca who has hated pumpkins ever since she was a girl when pumpkins were often the only food her family had. One day an enormous pumpkin falls off a truck and crashed in her yard. Rebecca shovels dirt over the pieces and then forgets about them. But those slimy pumpkin smithereens sprout up in autumn, and Rebecca Estelle finds a new patch of pumpkins in her garden.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is an excellent book to share with children. This is a not so typical Halloween story is about a witch and a group of animals with good manners who help each other. It's fun to read aloud because of its rhythm and rhyme. Kids love the repetition and eye-catching illustrations.
Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long is the story about where Otis the tractor lives. The farmer has introduced someone new on the farm---a scarecrow to shoo away the pesky crows. But when Otis and the animals greet the scarecrow with friendly smiles, the scarecrow’s frown never leaves his face. So everyone leaves him alone. A book that shows how the subtle acts of compassion and standing up for others makes everyone feel valued.
The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis is a story about two brothers and their little sister, who spy the biggest pumpkin they've ever seen. First, Buck and Billy try to roll the pumpkin down the hill to show everyone, but it's too big! Before long, it's bumping and thumping and rolling down the hillside out of control. This is a perfect story to read aloud in the classroom.
The Runaway Pumpkin is one of my favorite Halloween books to read to the class. During Halloween week, I read a new Halloween-themed book each day. For that week during centers, I set up fun literacy activities related to each book. What a fun way to celebrate and learn about Halloween while also focusing on language arts skills!
Let's take a closer look at the Runaway Pumpkin Unit that includes several activities related to the story.
Character Traits (Granny, and Little Lil)
The Plot Thickens (sequencing activity)
The Problem, Solution, and Theme
Find all the Action Verbs
Spotlight on Vocabulary
Runaway Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt
Pumpkin Poem (compare and contrast the story to the poem)
Write your own Personal Narrative Runaway Pumpkin Story
Life Cycle of a Pumpkin Activity
Quiz and Answer Key
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
For this activity, you will need several copies of the Runaway Pumpkin book. You could go to the local library or ask other teachers in your building to borrow their copy. Divide the class into groups of 2 to 3 students. Give each student a copy of the book and the "Runaway Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt" activity page. Instruct students to read through the book in order to answer the questions. Ater they have finished, bring the class back together as a whole group to check and correct their answers.
The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin
This unit includes several hands-on activities that students will love. This story leads well into the learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin.
Comprehension and Literacy Activities
Is your class learning about character traits, setting, author's purpose, or theme? This unit has many of them. Look through the unit and pick out the skills that you want to focus on with this captivating book. Then prepare each activity or center as described below. Many of these activities work well for reading groups and centers activities after reading the book.
There are two types of Character Traits: Inside and Outside. Outside traits are ones you can see. Inside traits are part of a person's or character's personality. On the front board, draw a picture of a bat. Underneath the bat, draw a T-Chart labeled Character Traits: Inside and Outside. On a piece of paper, have students create their own T-Chart. Ask students to describe Lilly Lil. Add the traits the correct category and have the students do the same on their page. For additional or independent practice, have students do the same thing for Granny Baxter.
Comparing Poetry to Fiction
Students will enjoy reading this rhyming poem about the life cycle of a pumpkin called From a Tiny Seed. This leads to an activity to compare the poem to the Runaway Pumpkin. Both forms of literature are about the same topic.
Shine a Spotlight on Vocabulary
Every story has some terms that are meant to expand a reader's vocabulary. In this story, there are several new words that students might not be familiar with such as foresaw, disaster or cautious. This is a great opportunity to talk about being cautious when they are Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night.
Here are some questions to start the discussion:
What does it mean to be "cautious"?
Name a time when you should be cautious?
Why should you be cautious about Halloween?
When you hear the word "disaster" what comes to mind?
Extension Activities: Write a Personal Narrative
Learning writing is one of the most important skills for kids to learn. Writing personal narratives are a perfect way to encourage your students to write. "Personal" refers to a story from one's life or experiences. Creative writing allows kids to express their feelings and beliefs about a given topic. Giving students writing prompts can make the writing process a little bit easier for them. A rubric is included to make the grading process a breeze!
What a fun way to celebrate and learn about Halloween while also focusing on language arts skills!
Is your class reading about a famous fruit bat named Stellaluna? Stellalunais one of my favorite books to read to the class in October. For that week during centers, we do several literacy and batty activities that are related to the book. This post shares several activities and a bat fact flaps craft freebie to use in your classroom during bat week or after reading Stellaluna.
My first love is teaching and my second love is writing. So blogging about teaching and teaching about blogging makes perfect sense to me. Maybe you are like me and want to share your love for teaching with the world? Maybe you want to showcase products you create or write tips for other teachers? Or maybe you have another passion such as cooking, dieting, or gardening that you want to write about. Whatever your goals might be, sharing your experiences and knowledge on your very own blog is the way to go. Follow the five easy steps below to start a WordPress blog today.
As a teacher, I always had a blog to share what we were working in the classroom. When I taught sixth grade, the students wrote many of the posts for our class blog as part of our writing curriculum. It was a great way to encourage students to write for the real world. Students loved seeing their words and images in print. It also served as an effective communication tool since parents loved seeing what we were doing in the classroom. It was a win-win-win for everyone!
The Benefits of Blogging
Nowadays, I am blogging for a different purpose and audience...to help teachers. I am a teacher-author. I write curriculum, create resources, and write articles for elementary teachers. Becoming a teacher-author and blogger has changed my life in so many ways. It has allowed me to share my passion for teaching and show the educational resources that I create and sell in my Teachers Pay Teachers store in detail. It has also allowed me to share my journey with the world.
A few years ago, I left the classroom and started writing from home fulltime. Today, I have a flexible schedule that is completely different from my past career as a teacher where every minute of the day was planned. I am loving life! I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful for this amazing opportunity that I never thought was possible.
If you want to give blogging a try, then using Bluehost may be a great option for you. Bluehost is one of the best hosting companies around and you start your own blog for as little as $3.95 per month. Bluehost has excellent 24/7 customer service too. Follow the five simple steps below to get started.
Follow these 5 Easy Steps to Set Up Your WordPress Blog:
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I only recommend them because they are helpful and useful, and not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Step 1: Pick a Domain Name
What should you name your new blog? Your domain name is how visitors find you online. It is the first step in getting your website started. Short and catchy names that are easy to remember usually perform the best. It’s also best practice to choose a domain name that is closely related to your business or topic. Sometimes this can be difficult because many of the popular names have already been taken. If you need help picking a name, there are tools called domain name generators that can help.
After you have carefully picked your domain name and have searched to make sure it's available, then it's time to purchase your new little corner of the internet. I recommend buying your domain name directly from Bluehost because it will make the whole process so simple. Plus you’ll also get your domain name registered for free for a year by signing up with one of their plans.
If you already own a domain name or buy a domain name from another site such as GoDaddy, you will need to switch over the DNS nameservers to point to Bluehost when it's time to link it all together.
Go to Bluehost and click the get started now button.
Select the package you are interested in.
(You can save money by purchasing a whole year or more of service instead of paying month by month.)
Sign up for a new domain name or enter the domain name you registered previously.
Enter your name, address, and payment information.
Select a password. Be sure to make note of it for future reference.
Step 3: Pick a WordPress Theme
If you’ve chosen Bluehost for hosting, WordPress will be automatically installed for you. All you have to do is click, ‘Login’ and choose a theme. Not sure which theme you want, that's okay. You can always go back and change it later.
Another option is to have someone design your blog or website for you. If you choose to go this way, then I highly recommend Jumping Jax Designs. Becca is awesome. I have worked with her on three different websites and she has always done an amazing job. She will work with you to get it just how you want it. She also offers logo design and branding if you are looking for a complete all in one package.
Step 4: Customize Your Blog
Let the fun begin! You are ready to start designing your site with your color choices, font styles, and other elements that will help to express your style and personality. You can do this from the WordPress Dashboard. The Dashboard is the area that allows you to control what people see when they come to your site.
Setting up your classroom as a teacher can be overwhelming and stressful! There are so many things to consider...storage, layout, organization, to name a few. But there are some simple ways to have an effective classroom management system that runs smoothly all year. Let's look at five ways to set up your classroom for success.
Map Out Classroom Space & Layout
Take a close look at your classroom space with regards to layout. The first step is to decide how you want your classroom to look and how it should be arranged for attention and flow. Students should face the front board, that’s a no-brainer but think about where is the best place to put your desk, classroom library, and small group stations. If you plan to do several stations or centers in your classroom you probably want them in different areas to give space and create an area that is specifically designed for that task. Common stations that are found in a lot of classrooms include art, math, writing, computer, and reading stations.
Think about where you can keep supplies close to each center and how students will move from one area of the room to another. There may be limitations on how you can arrange the space depending on where the door is located, computer hook-ups, or if there are built-in shelving. On a whiteboard or chalkboard sketch out the room. Be sure to add whiteboards, doors, windows, shelves, desks, computers, and any other built-ins. On sticky notes, write down all the different areas and centers you plan to have. Next, think about where to it's best to place students desks, teacher's desks, tables, books, classroom library, and supplies.
Lastly, consider where to have quiet areas and not-so-quiet areas. Move the sticky notes around until you find the ideal set up. Mapping it out will help you evaluate each area of the classroom and see the best options available.
Attractive & Purposeful Class Decor
Have you ever walked into a classroom where every inch of the wall is covered with fluorescent posters? There’s so much to look at you just don’t know where to start. There are too many loud colors or too many patterns with no rhyme or reason to the design. Some students may be able to learn in this environment but for many people, there’s just too much going on making it hard to focus. These are all things to keep in mind when planning your classroom design.
Organizational Systems are Key!
Organizing your classroom can be one of the trickiest parts of teaching (at least for me!). What methods will you put into place that will help you stay organized throughout the school year? Think about all the things that teachers have to organize this might include:
classroom library books
unit lessons and materials
take home folders
files, files, and more files
papers to grade
papers to send home
lessons and materials to copy
activities for centers
indoor recess stuff
data collection and intervention resources
professional learning development
PLUS 20 to 30 kids
That’s a lot of stuff to organize and keep track of. (Whew!) A classroom decor pack with daily schedule cards, a calendar set, signs for centers and areas are an excellent way to help organize your classroom. One of the main things to look for in a decor pack is it editable? An editable file gives you lots of options to add your own personal touches. Look for packs that have extra labels in different shapes and sizes too. This offers the ability to mix and match for a lot of different areas including the classroom library, supplies, books, or as needed throughout the year.
How to Use Management Tools:
Our mega classroom decor bundles have everything you need to set up a warm and inviting one of a kind classroom. We have 15 different themes available when this was published and more on the way. Inside each bundle, you'll find more than 400 pages of valuable resources to set up and organize your classroom including:
Welcome Back to School Letters
Open House/Meet the Teacher Presentation & Forms
Classroom Rules Posters
Daily Schedule Cards
Build a Calendar Set
Name Tags/Desk Plates
Classroom Jobs Pack
Teacher and Student Binder Covers
Student Agenda Pages
Alphabet and Number Posters
Growth Mindset Posters Variety Pack
Reading Strategy Posters
Literary Genre Posters
First Day Activities
Reward Cards/Brag Tags
Send Welcome Letters to Students and Parents
Welcome back to school letters might be the first thing you print. In summer, teachers can use the template provided as a guide to write and send home a letter to her students. Another option is to send home the letters on the first day of school. Personally, I love mailing out welcome back letters a couple of weeks before school starts. I send one to the students and one to the parents. I like to introduce myself to the parents and tell them a little about myself. I include information about my teaching experience, about the school, and what they can expect from the year ahead. In the letter to students, my goal is to get them excited about coming back to school. I might tell them a bit about myself but the letter is mainly about all the fun things they have to look forward to coming up this school year. I include things that might interest them such as what we will be learning about in science, social studies, and what books were going to read. I also include information about upcoming field trips or special events that we do each year. Anything that will get them excited about coming back to school is sure to be included.
Along with welcome back to school letters, there are several poster sets in our bundles. Classroom rules, reading strategy, and literary genre posters are included so that you have a variety of options for an attractive display in different sections of the classroom. I recommend printing all the posters such as the Growth Mindset, reading strategies, and classroom rules on premium heavyweight matte presentation paper. I love, love, love this paper! It makes the colors almost POP off the page! Amazon seems to have the best prices on Office Depot Premium Brochure and Flyer Paper. Personally, I prefer matte paper over glossy to eliminate glare.
Celebrate Each Individual Student
Celebrating birthdays in the classroom is a great way to build classroom community. In each decor bundle, you will find editable birthday certificates to give to a student on their special day. On each student's birthday, I decorate his or her chair with a couple of balloons. I also write happy birthday on the front board so everyone can see it all day. Another fun thing that I like to do on each students’ birthdays, is to interview him or her at some point during the day. Usually, I use the lunchtime to do this interview about their favorite things. Then at the end of the day, I call the student up to the front of the classroom and have him or her sit in the seat of honor. The seat of honor is the teacher's chair in front of the class. Students are only allowed to sit there on special occasions and their birthday is one of these times.
Birthday Interview Questions
I use the interview questions as a guide to asking the class these 10 questions. The birthday boy or girl gets to call on classmates to give them a chance to answer the questions about them. Some of the questions are about the student’s favorite things and others are about things that even their friends may not know such as what is his or her middle name. One rule of the game is that the student must call on different students for each question so that everyone gets a chance to participate. This is a nice way to recognize each student and they get to know each other a little better. For summer birthdays, we celebrate their half birthdays during the school year or another day that they choose.
Personalize with Your Style!
Let's face it, you have to be in your classroom for many hours each day. So you want to make sure that it is decorated to suit your style and taste. Take a look around on Pinterest or in stores you like to see what colors, styles, and special touches you can add that make your classroom feel like home (a second home). Chances are if you feel comfortable there so will your students! Some ideas that come to mind are adding a lamp in a dark corner or an area rug and bean bag chairs in to create a cozy library section. Search on Amazon for area rugs on clearance to see some great deals. For me, having a shag rug in front of the classroom where students sit during circle time is a good thing. It also provides padding to areas where I stand for long periods of time.
Communication is Essential
Many teachers loved to use our classroom newsletters to keep parents in tune with what’s coming up with important dates, special events, and other news about what is happening in each subject area. There are several classroom newsletter templates that are editable. Are you have to do is either print and write in important dates or information for parents to know. Or you can open them in PowerPoint to edit them. To edit them, simply click inside the text boxes and add the dates and/or information that you want to add. With cute designs and matching themes, there’s enough to make several different ones throughout the school year.
Make Open House Night Count
Open House or Meet the Teacher might be the first time you meet the parents of your new students. It's so important to establish open lines of communication from the very first meeting that will continue throughout the year. Set up your meet the teacher or open house night with ease! Our slideshow presentations are set up to match each of the many different themes available. The presentation is editable in PowerPoint. Inside you will find slides with information that you can tailor for your needs. The information provided is intended to act only as a guide to help to get you started on what you want to present to the parents when they come in to meet you and see the classroom for the first time. Sign in forms and volunteer forms are available in the bundle.
Send Positive Notes Home
Another communication tool and a way to reward students is to send positive notes home. In this pack, I’ve included several different styles with and without clip art to send a note home to celebrate something that a student has done in the classroom. This celebration could reward academically related or positive behavior that is being celebrated. Notes can be printed and then you add in a handwritten note to personalize it or you could open the PowerPoint version that is editable and print it that way. Sending a note home to their parents is an excellent way to reinforce positive behavior and make students feel special.
Effective Classroom Storage
There are lots of organizational components in our MEGA Classroom Decor Bundle. Teacher and student (editable) binder covers, daily schedule cards, and a calendar set. You’ll love all labels with real-life photos of supplies to label your plastic bins or containers. Some of the best containers that I have found have been at IKEA, target, or Walmart. Amazon is another great place to find a variety of plastic bins with lids in all different shapes and sizes that you can use to organize supplies and other items in your classroom. The large storage bin with wheels is my favorite for storing and organizing supplies and printables for centers, projects, and reading groups. It's so easy to pull it over to wherever you might need it! It's even color-coded to use with reading groups so it functions as a way to organize everything for each group. It has a nice shelf on top for your lesson plans, binders, books, or other supplies like pencils or a stapler that you might need to keep on hand.
Give a Warm Welcome
A fun welcome banner is included in all our decor bundles. To assemble the welcome banner, head to Hobby Lobby or Michaels to buy some wide ribbon. For mine, I used a 2 1/2 inch white ribbon from Hobby Lobby. A nice burlap ribbon would look amazing too! Then I used a small dab of hot glue to attach the W-E-L-C-O-M-E letters to the ribbon. You could also use masking tape to hang the letters directly to your classroom door or on a bulletin board. A blank banner template is included so you can design a banner for any reason such as areas in the classroom, centers, important reminders, holidays, or anything else you desire.
Be Functional And Purposeful
Have your students help you cut down on daily tasks by setting up management systems on the very first day of school. As soon as students walk into the classroom in the morning, teach them to move their clothespins, or clips, and put it on the card that shows how they are getting home from school that day. Another design that I have heard of is to use a large cookie sheet and attach the student's names on magnets so they can move their magnet to show the way that they are getting home that day from school. This saves time for you and you'll know at a glance how to line students up at the end of the day.
Reading Strategy Posters
Display Posters From A to Z & More!
Students in lower elementary grades like to look up alphabet posters to help them with learning to read and write and sound out words. We’ve included alphabet posters in different sizes so that you have options depending on the space you have available to display the posters. There are 200 high-frequency words cards for the word wall included in our packs. Number posters, genre posters, reading strategy posters, and center posters come in all our decor bundles.
Classroom Jobs Teach Responsibility
All our bundles include classroom jobs card sets are included. Inside our classroom job pack, we have a mini-job application that says, “we need your help.” Its good practice to have students apply for a job. It builds responsibility and makes it feel like "real". On the form, it asks students to pick their top three choices of jobs and to explain why they feel that they would do good at that job. Since there are 24 different jobs and only 10 months of the school year, each student is only going to have an opportunity to do 10 jobs. I recommend rotating student jobs once a month. This gives the student an opportunity to shine and become a specialist in that job. It keeps paperwork at a minimum for you! So, in setting up your classroom think about what kind of help you need to keep the classroom running smoothly. What jobs can students do that is helpful to your classroom community? As a side note, when assigning jobs to students to try to give the most active jobs to the most active students.
Reinforce Positive Behaviors
Posting the jobs on a bulletin board with the description and the title show students the opportunities available to them. During the first week of school, be sure to describe the responsibilities of each job to the students. I like to take some time to do this. Students need to know that they are an important part of the classroom community and that if we all help each other it will make our community stronger. We are better together. Make sure to complement students who are doing an amazing job. You might say something like, "Alexander, thank you so much for opening the door and reminding everyone to be quiet as we walk through the halls. That was perfect!" Positive encouragement is a great way to showcase students and reward them for their hard work and efforts.
Have a Reward Systems in Place
One of the most important decisions you will make about setting up your classroom is what type of reward systems you will use. Over the years I have tried many different types of reward systems. Check out the blog to read more about a reward system that really works! I have had great success with a program I have developed over the last 15 years called STARS. It's a student recognition and reward system where every student can be a shining STAR!
There are several reward cards that you can hand out to students to reinforce positive behaviors. I like to keep a few in my pocket to give out to students throughout the day to encourage and reward positive behaviors.
Have a Growth Mindset Freebie Pack
Having a growth mindset is so important that’s why we’ve included a special variety pack of 30 growth mindset posters in all of our classroom decor bundles. They come in all different colors and designs to mix and match in any classroom while reinforcing a growth mindset in your students.
We have a variety of classroom decor themes available in our TPT SHOP. Mix and match the colors and designs from our other décor bundles to create a one-of-a-kind classroom. If you like these colorful designs, you might also like our other Classroom Décor Packs, Alphabet Photo Posters, and Growth Mindset Class Awards Variety Pack.