If you’re like me, you like to keep things simple! The thought of an elaborate classroom transformation gets my anxiety level way up, so I don’t do room transformation in the way you sometimes see on Instagram or Pinterest. I keep it simple, and get great results. Here’s my story…
It all started at my local dollar store when I saw these beautifully colored paper plates and plastic table clothes and knew I had to do something with them, but what? (How many times has this happened to you, right?) I bought all the things, threw them in the back of my trunk, and never looked back until… my school’s ABC countdown came out and I saw that “R” day was RAINBOW DAY! Click!
I teach ELA and I knew I wanted my Rainbow Day to have a strong reading and writing component, so I turned to one of my favorite sites, ReadWorks.org, for help. I found a great rainbow passage with questions I knew would work perfectly. I then searched around and found a figurative language sheet that dealt with color related idioms. I printed both of these resources and ran copies for my 60 kids.
Next, I created a template for a RAINBOW ACROSTIC POEM that I thought would look great in the center of each colored plate! I had a vision of creating a big rainbow out of all the plates, once completed. (click the link above to get this template for free)
For Rainbow Day, I decided I would make each table a different color. I covered each table with a plastic table-cloth and put down a corresponding colored plate for each student. Next, I made sure each place setting had copies of the handouts, a poem template, scissors, and crayons.
When the students walked in they literally gasped, but not because it was an elaborate transformation. They had a dramatic reaction because it was a welcome break from routine and a beautiful sight! It was something different and they couldn’t wait to dig in! Isn’t that the point? Increase student engagement? Hook them? Yes!
I gave them directions to complete the reading comprehension and figurative language sheets while working in small groups. Next, working independently, I encouraged them to use what they had read to inspire them while they worked on their poems. I had the students write on scrap paper first, revise, peer edit, and finally publish! The publishing was the fun part! After the poems were completed on the template, they were glued to the plates and we cut fringes around the edges of each plate to add some pizzazz!
Doing the prewriting activities really gave them inspiration to write some great poems. The best part was, every student wrote a poem. Every student! This was huge! My reluctant writers, wrote poems!!! I allowed my students to complete the prewriting activities in groups so all students could access the reading in a low stress environment. This low stress, high fun environment gave all my students the confidence to write and that made for a successful lesson! In addition, what was great about using an acrostic poem format was the built-in differentiation! Students used one word or a phrase for each letter depending on their level. This really gave each of my students a chance to write something they were proud to display.
The entire lesson took up my 90 minute ELA block and the students loved it! It was less than $20 for all the supplies and very little time to set up. THIS is my kind of room transformation! It was fun, aligned to the curriculum, and fun! Did I say fun?
In one lesson we were able to review figurative language,read independently for several minutes, reinforce comprehension skills, work in small groups, and play with language as we created our poems!
If a full-blown room transformation stresses you out, don’t do it! You do you! Whatever you feel comfortable with is what you should do. If you’re not enjoying the experience or if you’re anxious, chances are pretty good your students will pick up on that energy. However, if you do something small that excites you, that excitement with transfer to your students in the best way. Aim for simple, but impactful lessons! Don’t feel that your ideas for a room transformation aren’t enough for your kids. Your ideas are enough. You are enough.