What's with all these cutsie themes?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Sarge, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Jun 22, 2010

    Nobody does anything like that at my school.

    Our "theme" is based on whatever unit we are studying at the time. So I might put up pictures of race cars, bikes and airplanes during our "things that go" unit. etc. Same for our units on Weather, Animals, and Journeys.

    Are these room decorating themes or do they actually become part of the curriculum?
     
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  3. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I don't truly have a theme....I have lots of apples around, but I wouldn't call it a theme....
     
  4. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    The one year I did themes, they were purely decorating themes. This year we're doing a year-long study on space and California history, so I think I'll pick one of those to kind of focus my efforts on in terms of ideas. My decorating theme this year is basically 'green'-as much natural material as possible, with an emphasis on re-using in unique ways.

    But mostly the themes you read about on here, Sarge, are just decorating themes. ;)
     
  5. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Yeah, I don't get it either. My last school was big into themes like Alice in Wonderland, movie theater, and disco party. They had nothing to do with the curriculum, and seemed like a waste of time to me. They were supposed to make the students feel comfortable in the room. I prefer to spend my time and energy on the curriculum. :)
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Some people spend their time and energy on curriculum...and then more on decor and themes. And I think that's great! You certainly don't have to have an actual theme, but I remember fondly the elementary rooms I most loved.
     
  7. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I don't do a theme either. I'm not big on decorating-even at home.
     
  8. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Yep. I love spending my free time on the classroom. When you're riding your bike, Sarge, I'm thinking up design schemes for the classroom. ;)

    It doesn't mean we put less time into planning out our units of study or working on the academic side-we just use our free time on the extras!!
     
  9. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    I was thinking the same thing, but I am a secondary teacher so I am sure that's why. I've never actually been inside a classroom with a theme, besides when I was in elementary school and we did units and we (the students) decorated the classroom to go along with the unit.

    I do see how it would make it a pleasant learning environment, especially for the younger guys. Too many decorations overwhelm my special ed. students. It's also a lot more money. I can see why people do it, and it is really cute, just not for me :)
     
  10. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    So glad to hear that not everyone does themes for their classroom. I simply do not have extra money (we don't even get a budget for our classrooms anymore) OR any "free time". = ( I would love to be able to, though....
     
  11. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    None of my own teachers when I was growing up had a classroom theme and I don't know anyone in my current school with a theme. Some are much better at coordinating things than others, but no real themes. I don't think there is anything wrong with themes at all, and I do think a nice environment is a good thing, but I just don't know anyone IRL who uses one.
     
  12. katrinkakat

    katrinkakat Connoisseur

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    I had a gardening theme my first year of teaching. It was kinda fun. We had little buckets on the tables with their supplies, a shovel on the wall by the students writing that said "dig into writing" and a bulletin board with their photos that said "watch our Kinder garden grow!" and really pretty glazed pots held some supplies- It looked good. Haven't done one since, although, everything I bought for next year, cubbie tags, welcome bulletin board, desk plates, homework and birthday posters, has bears or owls, so my theme could be forest animals :D
     
  13. WestCoast Teach

    WestCoast Teach Rookie

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    I personally love themes and have seen so many adorably creative and inspiring pictures of classrooms on this site! Funny timing, I use a frog theme in my classroom and overheard one of my students talking to another today mentioning how they wanted to buy me a 'frog-themed' end of the year present becuase ...."SHE REALLLLLLLLLY LOVeS FROGS!!!!" lol. I wonder if they think I have a weird obsession with frogs?!?! Cute.
     
  14. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    Being a Montessori teacher, we don't use themes for decorating the classroom, either. In fact, part of our philosophy is simplicity, and so we want to make everything as visually uncluttered as possible. We do hang pictures on the walls and the children hang up their own artwork as the year progresses, but nothing like what I've seen on here.
     
  15. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    My understanding has been that research has shown that students with FAS or FAE or ADHD often find decorations in the room to be far too distracting, so I keep decorating to a minimum.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Themes aren't common in classrooms here--discussions here have been my only exposure to it.
     
  17. Starista

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    Some teachers at my school go over-the-top with themes and decor for their classrooms. Others decorate sparingly.

    To each his/her own I guess. :)

    I like to make the children feel safe and welcome in my classroom, so I try to create a "kid friendly" enviornment where the children will feel free to learn, thrive, and grow. :)
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I had never heard of them before seeing them here.
     
  19. WhatchaDoin?

    WhatchaDoin? Comrade

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    I used themes, but as a way to tie together the odds and ends of my classroom. The cubby tags, hook tags, helper chart, behavior chart, and desk tags visually tied together. I had high windows that were blinding when the sun poured through. The year I did an animal theme, I used animal print tissue paper to cover the window. My intro. letter that went to the students in the summer matched the theme, as well. Some teachers went to more trouble, some less.
     
  20. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    As someone with ADHD myself, this has always been my line of thought. I would like to cutesy up my room a little with some bright rugs, but I know I would be overwhelmed and distracted in some of the rooms I look at. Plus, I get bored with one thing after a while, so I am afraid I would invest all this money in a theme, and then hate it by the end of the year!
     
  21. KinderCowgirl

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    I have to decorate my boards every year-it gives me some direction of where to go with it-otherwise I'm just buying a bunch of borders I think are pretty. Every year I use the theme too for our little library nook-I think it makes it more inviting for the kids to read. Last year I did pirates and used a small plastic turtle pool for their reading center-they loved it! We don't have many teachers at our school who do it, but we do have some.
     
  22. CiniMini

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    During my first two years of teaching we used the Voyager (Universal Literacy) reading program. Each grade level had a theme. 1st grade was the ocean so we all decorated our classrooms to go along with that and it tied directly to our curriculum.

    Then we got a new reading program (thank goodness) and I've done frogs as my "theme." Since I'm moving up to 2nd grade next year I decided I needed to do a different theme since I'll have some of the same kids so I'm going to do polka dots. And it's just for fun. I enjoy decorating my room and my kids seem to like it too.

    My former co-workers are a perfect example of this. One of them has so much stuff in her room that it gives me a headache. The other one has an empty room. No color in her room except two bulletin boards that are quite dull. Reminds me of a hospital room.

    I feel like I'm kinda balanced. I like having pretty colorful things (like my curtains and a few decorative items to go with my theme) but I know my kids with attention problems need some "white space."

    Do whatever makes you happy. If you can (and want to) do some fun decorative thematic things in you room and still cover you curriculum effectively, I say go for it! If you don't have time or desire, don't worry about it!
     
  23. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    We use theme particularly as a grade level for subjects like when we studied ecosystems. We also had a theme that was kept for the year- that was a movie/Hollywood theme. This theme's main purpose was to inspire our 4th graders into writing. It was a big production that culminated with an actual limo ride. It was effective as evident by our scores.
     
  24. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    QUOTE=Jem;1239711]Yep. I love spending my free time on the classroom. When you're riding your bike, Sarge, I'm thinking up design schemes for the classroom. ;)

    It doesn't mean we put less time into planning out our units of study or working on the academic side-we just use our free time on the extras!![/QUOTE]

    :yeahthat: I have my curriculum down. I plan, plan, over plan, and plan again. I decorate my room because I want my students to enjoy their classroom while they are learning.
     
  25. teacherlissa

    teacherlissa Comrade

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    I don't really see a Theme going above and beyond...If you have bulletin board borders and nametags on desks, etc...it is all focused around the same thing. You are taking the normal stuff you do and focusing it around a common theme so it all matches. This is personally a little bit of my OCD kicking it. If I have to be in the classroom the majority of my day, I want it to reflect my personality and be a welcoming environment for my students. I like to spend as much time as possible before school starts because once the school year begins, I have no time to decorate or do cutesy bulletin boards.
     
  26. gigi

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    Since I teach preschool and Kindergarten, I decorate my bulletin boards according to the theme for the month, hang up the kids artwork, etc., along with the learning things at centers and circle. I haven't done a theme room, although it looks wonderful and fun!
     
  27. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I don't really have a theme. And I really can't remember any teacher in elementary school having a theme either. I'll use coordinating borders and stuff to pull stuff together, but not a universal theme.
     
  28. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    It's just decorating! I like being in a classroom that is coordinated. That's just me. But I don't really do themes. I do color. A lot of things are black, red, and white.

    Remember that post a long time ago about what color bike you should get? :D
     
  29. DrivingPigeon

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    Like many other posters, I had never heard of themes until I started coming to these message boards.

    My classroom had many items (rugs, storage, etc.) in primary colors when I arrived, so I just kind of went with that overall color scheme. (Although I REALLY wish I could change that...)

    My thing with themes is isn't it expensive to change from year to year?
     
  30. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    I don't remember themes from when I was in elementary school. I'm not into themes. I usually have a cutesy welcome board and that's about it. This year I'll have that, plus I'm putting matching border around my bulletin board that will match my name plates, cover sheet of friday folders, and my welcome-back letters.... that's about as theme-y as I get :)
     
  31. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    I agree with other postes that it gives me a place to start decorating for a new year. As for expense, I don't spend a lot; I use and reuse supplies and try to be creative to cut down on spending.

    That's why sites like this one are so great! You can get lots of ideas and use them as a springboard.
     
  32. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    When I taught kindergarten and fifth grade, my classroom was decorated based on what we were learning.

    This coming year, I do want to have a "math" theme. But, I guess it's not much of a cutesy theme.
     
  33. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    You can without question have a theme and not be "too much" for students who are easily distracted or overwhelmed. I've been in plenty of rooms that didn't have a theme and were outright stressful to just stand in. It's all about being organized, clean, and welcoming...theme or no theme.
     
  34. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    Well said! I also want to add that in the environment I am, most of these kids do not have the privilege of seeing nice or 'cutsie' things in their home life. I've had some that have mentioned that they all sleep in one room, that their home have major repair issues, that their parents had financial problems, etc. So if I can provide a little bit of comfort or enjoyment by trying to provide a pleasant physical & emotional environment to capture them, then why not?
     
  35. Bloom

    Bloom Companion

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    Amen Teachling.....providing a comforting environment is never a bad thing, especially for children who do not receive this type of "comfort" or stimulation at home.
     
  36. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I never had a theme but that was mostly due to it being really expensive to decorate a classroom every year. I do think it's nice when teachers put time and care into how their classroom looks, as long as they focus on teaching as much and don't go too over the top. On the flip side, I've seen primary classrooms that are completely bare, void of color, or any "fun."
     
  37. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    I would have written the exact words as you did sevenplus. No one in my school does a theme and in my 25+ years of teaching neither have I. Each Sept. I've received comments from parents that they are so pleased with the learning environment their child will be in. I really don't understand the true purpose of a theme or how it relates to what will be taught. Do you who do a theme feel it makes a difference in a student's learning ability or is it mainly done to make things look nice?
     
  38. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    As explained already, some themes are connected to curriculum while others are not. Even if there isn't a connection and the theme is purely for the teacher's and students' enjoyment, I see no problem with that whatsoever. Why do schools have mascots? Same idea...
     
  39. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Totally agree. Another not so organized and "cutsie" teacher and I team taught science and social studies. My students told me, on several ocassions, that they appreciated coming back to a neat, organized, and sweet smelling room. I know one can be organized without have a "theme," but my classroom is a place where I spend majority of my time. I want to enjoy how it looks. It is also nice when other teachers and parents say, "I want to be in your class." :lol:
     
  40. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I love themes!!! It gives the kids and parents a glance at what the teacher's personality is like and they are very welcoming. I am doing bears with some polka dot things added in. I think themes tend to be more of an elementary thing than middle school and high school. Almost all of the teachers at our school have a theme and it is wonderful to walk down the halls and see them all.
     
  41. MrsHoot

    MrsHoot Comrade

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    I do have a theme. I have a whole bulletin board wall that is a hideous mauve color. I had to cover it. Plus, I like showing my personality and the kids seem to enjoy it. I was known as the polka dot teacher last year. And I just had a few polka dotted things, everything was very subtle.

    That said, I LOVE doing arts and crafts and look forward to doing it over the summer. It's just a part of me I guess!
     

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