Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Creating Your Own Classroom Theme -- ON A BUDGET

Carson-Dellosa, Oriental Trader, LakeShore Learning and ReallyGoodStuff are all great, but they also can be famous for breaking the bank for those who aren't careful.  And when I say those, I mean myself.  My first year teaching I can bet I spent an upwards of about $300 just on pretty decorating supplies.  Yes, they looked great and made me feel like I was a student shopping for supplies all over again.  But, after some further thought my funds could have been better spent, or not spent at all. 

I quickly realized I also didn't like the cookie cutter themes that most teaching supply companies offered.  I wanted something different; something I hadn't ever seen in a classroom before.  I also wanted something both genders of students could enjoy and relate to but wasn't too kiddish.  So, from there it was settled.  Toy Story became my theme. 

First, I started thinking about all the different stations I knew I would need to think about in my room.  I knew I would need a helper chart, a good behavior chart, a calendar, a reading corner, a welcome sign outside my door, student names displayed, and organization labels.  From there I started thinking about how the characters from Toy Story could fit into this.

This is what I ended up with:

Welcome Sign:                                   

Outside Door Sign:

Helper Chart:

Behavior Chart - Students add Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head pieces to their potato for positive actions in school  When they fill up the potato, they earned a personal reward.

 Birthday Chart

How To Make These
The steps to creating decorations like these are below.  This past year, I changed my theme to UP and needed to make all new creations.  I used my SMARTBOARD to create the outlines for the pictures I wanted.  If you don't have access to a SMARTBOARD, you can use a projector to project the image onto the wall.  

What You Will Need:
-SMARTBOARD or Projector
- White Poster Board (I found mine at Dollar Tree)
-Sharpies (Thick tipped)
-Colored Pencils or Crayola Crayons (I suggest using colored pencils.  But, if you do use crayons, buy the Crayola brand because the wax in the cheaper brands will melt when you laminate them and then your images are all smudged)
-Scissors (The expensive brand will pay off when cutting through thick poster board)
 -Access to a Laminating Machine

 Step 1: Choose your theme.  Google coloring page images of the theme you choose.  Coloring page templates are MUCH easier to trace and then you can go in to color them how you like.  For example: This year I just put in a Google Image search for "Up Coloring Pages" and found tons of images I liked for my theme.

Step 2: Project that image onto the wall or your Smartboard.  Next, hang the poster board so that the image is directly on top of it.  See below: 

Step 3: Trace the entire outline of the image.  Use a Sharpie with thick, clean lines.  Make sure you are careful to trace even the smallest details of the image.  If you leave them out, it looks like something is missing from the picture.   Remove the poster board from the projection of the image and check to make sure you included everything.  

Step 4: Color the image in.  I Googled further pictures of the outfits of the characters above so that I would know what colors they wore.  I did have to improvise a tad, but the end result is usually all the same.  Like I said previously, I used color pencils or Crayola brand crayons for my colors.  Next, I cut out the image.

Step 5: Laminate the cut-out image.  If you don't have access to a laminator, you can also use clear contact paper.  You can find rolls of that at any Target or Walmart with shelf-paper in the Home Goods section.  After you have laminated the image, cut it out again and you're done!! 

Step 6: Find a good spot in your classroom to hang your themed image.  :)

This is a picture of a finished poster of Russell, from "Up."  I hung this near my classroom library section because he's holding a Wilderness Explorer guidebook.    

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