Crazy vs Calm

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Elcsmith, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. Elcsmith

    Elcsmith Companion

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    I don't know about everyone else but I feel a little overwhelmed when I go into an elementary classroom.

    I know we're encouraged to make our classrooms bright and interesting. I can't help but wonder if that contributes to behavior problems. Covered walls and things hanging from the ceiling are overwhelming to me. I am the type of person that cannot function in clutter. I wonder if many kids are like that too or if it intrigues them.

    This year I'm going to try something new. I'm going to make everything in my room a cool green or blue and focus on keeping clear surfaces and see if it effects the atmosphere. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to create/decorate a room that calms? What are your thoughts/opinions on this? I'm very curious to hear your responses!
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oh, I think students can absolutely be over-stimulated. Inviting and comfortable, that's what I strive for my room to be...and clutter and excessive decorations are not part of that.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I know that I could never function in a couple of the elementary classrooms at my school. Almost every inch of wall space is covered with charts, posters, artwork, etc. I don't know where to look and I can barely carry on a conversation--I don't know how some of our students with attention difficulties can focus. I think there there is sometimes a very fine line between bright and interesting and distracting.
     
  5. AKitchin

    AKitchin Companion

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    I am doing green and blue with my ocean theme this year. Ive never been one for visual clutter (granted my walls are peeling puke green paint) and things dont stick to my walls (did I mention they're ugly? I have offered to buy the paint and do the labor myself... Id paint them yellow, I love yellow)

    We have a teacher who is known for her visual clutter in her room and then she wonders why her kids cant focus.
     
  6. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I agree! I like to limit what is in my room. I don't do themes or any cutesy stuff like that. I find it is too distracting.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'm middle school and don't have themes...but you can have a theme, and a cutesy one at that, and have an effective, enjoyable learning enviornment. I think many teachers do it...and then, of course, many teachers over do it. :)
     
  8. teacherheath

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    The past couple of years I've used aqua or soft green on my b boards and w/ decorations. I always get compliments about how it's nice, or calm, or 'feels good'. *I* can't concentrate in a room where there's stuff everywhere, so I don't do that in my room.
     
  9. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    When you do this, will you post pictures? I would really really like to switch my classroom over to a green and blue color scheme, because they are calming colors.

    Currently my classroom looks like a primary color palette threw up. It all began with the busy rug I inherited. For some reason, pre-K and kindergarten classrooms seem to be filled with every bright color known to mankind, and I agree that it is an eyesore.

    I have everything picked out that I would like to use in my blue/green classroom. I just need to save up some money and fill out some donor's choose project forms.
     
  10. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    I am the same way. I walk into some coworkers rooms and get dizzy! I use blues and it has a very clean appeal. A picture of my room is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41188420@N08/4861360148/in/set-72157624530130791/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41188420@N08/4861363162/in/set-72157624530130791/


     
  11. janney

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    I am going for a calm minimal clutter room. The problem that I seem to have that my classroom clutter is directly correlated to my stress level. The more stressed and busy I get the worse my room looks. Last year I held it together until Christmas. This year I'm going all out for a year of calm. Now if the students will only cooperate.
     
  12. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Lol. I get into organizational trouble when I know parents are coming. Everything tends to be piled into a hiding spot and then I never want to go through it.
     
  13. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I've discovered something over time... my kids learn a lot from what is on my walls! :) I thought of the same thing recently because my classroom is quite stimulating.

    I really love the idea of having neutral colors, though. I already have acquired so much, though, that I use it.
     
  14. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    As far as all the anchor charts... somebody in a workshop said to draw/color a frame around each chart so that all your charts don't seem to run together. I will try that this year...
     
  15. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I like that idea...

    I'm also beginning to switch over to posters, versus large bulletin board-like displays. Instead of a birthday cake for each month of the year, I have a single poster that I write birthdays on. It takes up ways less wall space and looks a little neater IMO.
     
  16. knitchic

    knitchic Rookie

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    I do have some brighter primary colours in my kindergarten classroom, but I make a huge effort to keep the clutter (both physical and visual) to a minimum. I think when there are too many things on the walls, students tune them out. I only have things up on the walls that I reference regularly and that I feel students will use daily. I also painted some of my walls a pale blue and added clouds to a focal wall to add some calmness.

    Here are some photos of my classroom:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/franceschisholm/sets/72157624699182132/
     
  17. TiffanyL

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    Oh Knitchic, I do not think that is overstimulating at all. Its beautiful. I love the pastel colors and they really seem to soften the primary colors in your room.
     
  18. eddygirl

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    Knitchic, I LOVE your room! The pastel blue and clouds are so soothing, especially with all the white furniture. The room is crisp, clean, and definitely not cluttered. Kudos to you.
     
  19. kidsr#1

    kidsr#1 Companion

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    Debbie Diller...

    This past Spring I read Debbie Diller's Spaces and Places. I love this book. I have decided to decorate with dark blue and green (from my baskets, to bulletin boards, to slip covers.) The only thing that I haven't changed is my bean bags and throw pillows (due to cost).

    Last year I had things strung from the lights and by Christmas time everything came down because it drove me nuts. It bugs me to see stuff hanging! In my opinion I over decorated last year. This year I am going for minimal decorating. We start school in about 2 weeks, we'll see how that goes. :p
     
  20. kcjo13

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    Quantum Learning advocates at least one area of pure white space. Just as white noise can be calming, so can white space (although it doesn't have to be white, just blank). I try to put all of my posters, displays, etc, on one wall, another wall has the white boards, one wall has just one bulletin board, and the last wall (behind my desk) has nothing. I like to stare at blank spaces when I'm thinking, I think kids do the same.
     
  21. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    That would make sense... You're trying to think about a math problem and all you see is stuff about science or reading and your mind is confused, lol. Or all you see is print and your brain is trying to make sense of two things at once.
     
  22. AKitchin

    AKitchin Companion

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    This just cracked me up. My K and PreK classrooms fit this description... and probobly my first fifth grade classroom (I was stuck in primary land)

    BTW, you mentioned Donors Choose, does that work well for you?
     
  23. AKitchin

    AKitchin Companion

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    I love that book too... I am doing Blue and Green with an ocean theme (how funny that she mentions that in the book... I had that idea before!)

    I am going to use bed pillows for my reading area, I am buying queen size pillow cases and use velcro on the ends to close them. This makes it easier to swap out colors if I need to, and also washable.

    I wish I could do my baskets, I cant afford to replace them, they are primay nightmare.
     
  24. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    So far, it hasn't. :( I've done 2 projects, and neither were fully funded. I only have 1 point left, so I'm hoping I can get something funded.
     
  25. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I also find some classrooms overstimulating with so many things on the walls. I wouldn't have been able to concentrate if I was learning in that classroom.
     
  26. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Funny you say that...Fourth grade is when I started having some difficulties in school. I was just uninterested, unmotivated, and I didn't really like my teacher. When I was in college, I went in and observed her classroom (she teaches kindergarten now). I could not believe the unorganized chaos! Piles and piles of junk everywhere, walls covered from top to bottom with posters. I've been a neat freak since I was about 6, so it's no wonder I had a difficult time in her classroom!
     
  27. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I do the same thing. My room is very print rich, even the bathroom has word families posted in the walls. I don't have word walls, I have word ceilings: science, math, and reading words hang on the ceiling. I actually don't have much wall space because it is covered with shelves, but I try to expose my children to lots of variety. It works for my children; it probably wouldn't work for some of you.
     
  28. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Even though I use lots of color and print materials in my room, I absolutely agree about the chaos. Every single thing in my room has a home and I am anal about putting things away! My assistant is not as OCD about the clutter as I am, so I allow her work space and shelves to remain as she likes and I just don't worry about it.
     
  29. halpey1

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    It's difficult to keep things simple in a kindergarten room where we're expected to have SO MUCH - but I try. My big rule is if the kids didn't make it or at least HELP make it, it doesn't go up. There are a few exceptions, but not many. This way, things on the walls are meaningful to the students. Every year we make our own color, numbers, sight words, etc. signs. They don't look as fancy as the store bought ones, but the kids sure use them. :)
     
  30. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    It feels nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way about over decorated classrooms. For a while, I felt bad for not having so many things in my walls. I try to keep it simple.
     
  31. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I like your room too, and it's great for a kinder room. But, I am an adult...

    When I was a child, I know the kinds of things I'd be thinking while sitting in your class:

    1) What different kinds of animals or other things can I imagine in the clouds? Who painted them?

    2) How many dots are around the alphabet wall? Can I count them? (this was the very first thing that occurred to me when I saw the pix).

    3) Ohh, there's the playground outside.

    4) Is the tile pattern on the meeting area lengthwise red/green/blue/yellow, or diagonally alternating red/blue and green/yellow? And what happened to the tiles they cut off to make the border? And why does the border completely disobey the pattern of the rest of the tiles!?

    5) Why doesn't the tissue paper cubby stay up?

    6) My mom always told me that I could cut off a finger in the picture (i.e., paper) cutter? Will I get to use the one here?

    7) That's a funny monkey.

    8) Is that desk a C, or is it a half-circle?

    9) Oh, there's a teacher here!

    Actually, I could have gone on for quite a while. Though I would have been quite calm, it might not have exactly what the teacher was looking for.

    It depends more on how it affects your students, of course. In fact, that's really the point -- keep in mind that children's perceptions might differ from those of any reasonable adult, and from each other.


    (yes, I got a lot of comments like, "he seems to be off in his own world" said about me at PT conferences)


    (okay, secretly I know this post wasn't really very helpful. I just started looking at the pictures and started remniscing about elementary school, and couldn't help sharing).
     
  32. knitchic

    knitchic Rookie

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    Haha, 3sons, I think you might have been in my class last year!!!
     
  33. teachgrade5

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    I agree..blues and greens are calming. I am fortunate that I am in a green room (all the cabinets are green). Our school has red rooms, blue rooms, and yellow rooms. I think the red and yellow rooms are overwhelming. All of my bulletin boards are deep blue with green plaid border except for my AR bulletin board it has a black/white checker border. I don't have a lot of posters up in my room with information. My students and I make charts to post in the room over concepts we are learning. I do have a few informational posters that cover math.

    Here is my room http://www.leapinginto5thgrade.com/tour.htm

    I also have read Debbie Diller's Spaces and Places. I really like her book. I have really tried to become more organized. I made it to December last year so I am hoping to make it the whole year this year! I am a stacker....I tend to make small piles throughout my classroom....trying really hard not to that this coming up year.
     
  34. deb4kids

    deb4kids Rookie

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    I too like to keep it simple. All my boards are covered with black felt with simple borders. I don't hang up too much stuff. Mostly a strategy board for LA and Math, simple display of current study in Sci & SS, student recognition, and student work.

    My one non-essential is the timeline of CA I made in the credential program. It is 6 feet long with pictures and text. Huge investment of time on my part, but I do refer to it throughout the year!

    I also have a minimal amount of furniture beyond seating for 32 students and the 6 computers. I am fortunate to have a room with very high ceilings to make it feel even less cluttered visually.
     
  35. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Thank YOU all - I have been debating hanging some small clips and using these to hang students' (seasonal) artwork - I used to do this every year until I moved rooms and just didn't get around to it. I was ready to go in today and hang them via fishing line - but I think I like my clean lines better. I will be the only classroom in my grade without them, but we do something like this in the hallway so I am going to leave my ceilings clutter free!!
     
  36. mandijyn

    mandijyn Rookie

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    Another calming strategy that has worked for me- I play Gary Lamb's Music for the Mind to start the day- He composes music to be 60 beats per minute (the same as a calm heart rate) and I swear the students focus better when it is on!
     
  37. MzMooreTeaches

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    I work at a Montessori School and we believe in creating calm peaceful environments. Meaning lots of lamps (soft lights) and i turn off those harsh bright buzzing flourescent lights. I also have a small rock/water fountain at the very front of my room when you walk in. Amazingly... none of my kids really bother it, but they enjoy watching it.

    I have recieved a lot of comments on it... and I believe I want to buy another fountain later in the year a bit bigger. The sound of the running water is calming and can also put you to sleep lol.
     
  38. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Oohhhh! I want a fountain now!
     
  39. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    I used to teach in a Reggio-inspired program, where the colors are very neutral, the furniture is wood instead of awful brightly colored plastic, and the environment is very put-together.

    I miss it.

    My countertop is orange, my carpet is blue, my walls are yellow, my shelves are gray and yellow, my chairs are orange and blue and green, my computers are blue... shall I go on?

    I limit what I hang on my walls - if it is up there, it is usually created with the children and something I know has value.

    When I walk into my teammate's room, I can't concentrate. There is too much on the wall, on the shelves, packed into every corner... I can't stand it!!!!! I'm afraid sometimes that she thinks my room is too bare, but I need some empty spaces!
     
  40. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    "Less is more!"
     
  41. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    It's so refreshing to hear this from you all! I've been thinking about how hard it must be for some of the kids in the classrooms some have posted. I have an autistic child this year and it is specifically stated in his IEP that visual noise can cause breakdowns. There are SO many kids who can't focus - and I think we now know why! I love "Spaces and Places" too! Blank walls are just fine! Unless the kids MADE the poster or sign with you, they probably won't use it. I also love lamps and fountains, and I always have Enya or Jim Brickman playing very softly in my library corner. :)
     

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