Thursday, April 14, 2016

How to Create a Classroom Theme

{Click to download and access the FREE RESOURCE: Classroom Theme Planning Pages}
Let's be honest. Student academic success is not determined by a colorful classroom or a classroom theme

Classroom organizationclassroom management and good teaching practice all weigh heavily into the success of students, but classroom decor may not. 

That doesn't mean you shouldn't put time and effort into classroom decor. This is especially if it is something you really enjoy doing. Setting up my classroom each year has always been something I consider to be a job perk and not a chore. It's a chance to express my creativity before the real work begins at the start of a new school year.

I know I'm not alone. Teachers often LOVE to decorate their classrooms and consider creating beautiful learning environments using a theme to be enjoyable.

This post will...
  • explain the benefits of a classroom theme
  • help you pick a theme 
  • teach you how to plan and implement a theme and 
  • direct you to FREE RESOURCES to help you decorate with or without a classroom theme 

THE BENEFITS OF A CLASSROOM THEME

Over the years I've set up classrooms both with and without classroom themes and each had their benefits. Here is what I have found to be beneficial about using a theme:

HOW TO CHOOSE A CLASSROOM THEME

Are you planning to decorate your classroom using a classroom theme? This post explains the benefits, helps you pick a theme and teaches you how to plan and implement a classroom theme. Click through for tips and free printables.


There are many factors that can help you decide what type of theme you want to use in your classroom. Some teachers want a cohesive look, but don't want to be "too themey." A great way to accomplish that is to use elements of a Chalkboard and School theme either with or without elements of a Crayon Theme to create a space that focuses simply on school and learning.

Geographic Area: Teachers on both coasts find that using a beach theme or a Nautical theme ties in with the area in which they teach. I've known a lot of teachers in Texas who implemented a Western Theme with their design.  

Subject Areas: Reading teachers may gravitate towards a genre based theme such as Fairy Tales or Mysteries/Detectives. Social studies teachers may find a Patriotic Theme complements their lessons while those setting up computer labs or STEM / STEAM labs find value in a Technology Theme. Science teachers love a Space Theme.  The Rock and Roll Theme is popular in all classrooms, but especially with music teachers. 

School Specific: I've had teachers use my Construction Theme resource because their schools were remodeling or expanding and they were literally teaching at a construction site. Schools that are focusing on going paperless or simply being more environmentally aware like the Recycling Theme. School-wide themes such as teamwork or being the best you can be gravitate toward a Sports Theme or a Superhero Theme respectively. Another popular school specific option is to select a classroom theme based on your school mascot. I often see teachers decorate with a Dog Theme or even a Frog Theme for that reason.

Thematic Units or Units of Study: I used to begin each school year by reading Charlotte's Web paired with a non-fiction unit about Spiders. A Farm Theme provided the perfect backdrop. An Apple Theme or a Garden or Flower Theme is great for a unit on the life cycle of plants depending on what time of year you are teaching it.

Special Events: I often used a specific theme for the annual open house when families would come to view student work. I found it helped to create a cohesive look. Over the years I did open houses that had Camping Themes, Hollywood Themes, and a Wizard of Oz Theme.

Just for Fun: You don't need a reason to pick a certain theme. Many teachers pick them just because they sound fun. This is true for things such as a Pirate Theme, Circus Theme, Monkey Theme, Owl Theme, Jungle/Safari Theme or a Monster Theme. Some base them on student interests such as Racing Themes or Dinosaurs while other teachers share their own hobbies or passions such as a Cooking Theme or a Travel Theme

To Match The Space: While some classrooms are truly a blank slate, others start off with a less than ideal color backdrop. Teachers have used these to their advantage. I've had teachers use a Bee Theme because they were given a classroom with black furniture and yellow walls or a Ladybug theme because there was so much red in the classroom.


How to Plan and Implement Any Classroom Theme

1. Pick a theme.

2. Download the FREE Resource: Clutter-Free Classroom Theme Planning Pages and print the three organizers that are specific to the classroom theme you selected.
Are you planning to decorate your classroom using a classroom theme? This post explains the benefits, helps you pick a theme and teaches you how to plan and implement a classroom theme. Click through for tips and free printables.
Click to Access and Download the FREE RESOURCE: Classroom Theme Planning Pages 

3. The Clutter-Free Classroom Blog has published over 40 individual posts. Each includes ideas for color schemes, bulletin board trims, decor, bulletin boards and decorative accents, a list of related books to complement each theme, and tons of printable resources including over 30 classroom essentials to bring the theme to life for you. 

4. Use the organizer to make notes of ideas from the post.

5. Visit the Clutter-Free Classroom Pinterest boards to find additional photos and ideas for inspiration. I have set up separate pin boards for each of the themes featured on the blog. As you look through the pins be sure to make more notes on the planning pages to keep the ideas organized.
Are you planning to decorate your classroom using a classroom theme? This post explains the benefits, helps you pick a theme and teaches you how to plan and implement a classroom theme. Click through for tips and free printables.
Click to Access and Download the FREE RESOURCE: Classroom Theme Planning Pages 
6. Inventory fabrics, trims, and other decor elements you already have available in your classroom to determine what you can repurpose. 

7. Make a shopping list and set a budget. Begin purchasing things as time and money allow and set them aside for when you can get into the classroom to set up. If you are using any of my classroom decor resources you can start printing and preparing them.

8. Ask friends and family for items they may be willing to part with that will complement your theme.

9. When you can get into your classroom begin setting up the essentials. Put bulletin board fabric and trim up. Add the essentials and management tools like calendars, job charts, alphabets, number charts, etc. and assess how the classroom is coming together. 

10. I caution you not to add too many things just because they “fit the theme.” Try to be purposeful in what you select to include and find that perfect balance of beautifully decorated without being cluttered or distracting. Leave plenty of space to display student work and anchor charts for learning.


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Are you planning to decorate your classroom using a classroom theme? This post explains the benefits, helps you pick a theme and teaches you how to plan and implement a classroom theme. Click through for tips and free printables.
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Are you planning to decorate your classroom using a classroom theme? This post explains the benefits, helps you pick a theme and teaches you how to plan and implement a classroom theme. Click through for tips and free printables.
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