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Classroom Decor (Creating Cohesion)

I know it can be a hot debate, "Does a classroom need a theme to be great?" Of course, we all know the answer is "no". You don't need a theme to thrive. But I, personally, have always enjoyed having a theme of some kind-- to create a kind of "cohesion" for my learning space. I know that cohesion can create a calming atmosphere and make a classroom appear more welcoming. All that to say, you do what's best for YOU and your students. Everyone is different-- and that's ok! Here are some simple steps to creating a cohesive space:

1) I think the best way to create a cohesive classroom is to try and stick to a color scheme. So if you love red and black, try to use items mostly in those colors. If you love rainbows-- stick to those bright primary colors!

2) But what if the items I already own (or were given to me) don't match? This is where you have to get creative! Use contact paper, use spray paint (yes, it'll work on plastic-- just give it enough time to thoroughly dry), use chalk paint (it can cover almost anything), use dry eraser board paint, use scrapbook paper and mod podge, or try searching pinterest for ideas! 

3) Use neutrals in the backgrounds. I know we can't control our wall colors, and that's ok! At my school we could ask permission to repaint (it never hurts to ask?). I also try to use a neutral color for my bulletin board backgrounds. Think: chalkboard black or wood grain (these go great with almost ANY theme)

4) Leave blank space. Say it with me, "I do NOT have to cover every square inch." and repeat 5x. It's ok to have empty space. It's ok to leave bulletin boards mostly empty until you fill it in with your kiddos. This will help the room seem less "busy". 

 Last year (and this year) my room has a succulent theme, so I wanted to share some of my favorite pieces (I will include links below the pics):

IKEA Labels (don't look like mine-- but are more like a label)

The "work display" posters come as a bonus file in the giant decor bundle (as do the rainbow cart labels)
So that, in a nutshell, is what most of the succulent decor looks like in a classroom. I find it very soothing and eye catching! You can find most of the items shown above in one of my 2 major succulent bundles (click on their pictures to see them in more detail):

In my TPT store I have created similar listings for the following themes (in case succulents aren't your "thing")

If you have any questions about any of my decor, please leave it in the comments! I hope you have a great year! 


Meet the Teacher Night (Made Easy)

Back to school night-- meet the teacher night-- open house night-- Whatever you call it, it can be a source of stress! But it doesn't have to be! Here are some simple ideas to help you figure out that night in advance! 
Most back to school night activities include some sort of "supply drop off". To make it easier on yourself I suggest have prelabeled baskets/containers off to the sides of your room (out of the way). 
Or even outside your doorway in the hall (this way it's not interrupting the flow of your room). This works great for community supplies like Kleenex, Lysol wipes, and Ziplocks! 

If you want to keep student supplies separated-- have large ziplocks laying out on your desks/tables (labeled with student names) and have families fill them up. You can easily set these aside someplace until you have time to sort more! 

School forms. Such is the life of a teacher. Make it easier on your parents-- if you can send it home to be filled out, do it! Don't make them sit around for an hour filling out forms. I like to have a prelabeled folder (one side says "bring back" and the other says "leave at home") with all the forms and information my parents need. You can find the folder cover in my free resource library (it will range from preschool-6th). Click HERE to access! 
In the "bring back" side they may see school information forms, medical forms, and transportation forms. I always like to have parents fill out a transportation form during the open house, so I know exactly what their child is doing the first couple days of school! 

On the "leave at home" side I put a teacher contact card:
and a brochure about flexible seating. I also like to include my Class Dojo sign up pages (since I do a lot of contact through the app). 

If you have access to Google apps (or love saving on paper) you can create a Google Form with information for you parents to fill out. This makes it easier on you and the parents because they can scan a QR code you provide, or type in a short link, to fill out the survey.

In the survey you can ask a wide variety of questions like:
*Contact Info
*Preferred method of contact
*Which parent/guardian to contact first
*Who does the child live with
*What the child is great at
*What the child struggles with
*What makes the child work hard
*Anything else the teacher should know

Then you can keep the info digitally or print it out for your teacher binder!
If parents HAVE to fill out forms, make sure you provide a brief activity for the students! In the past I have made a photo booth using this tutorial:
I have also done scavenger hunts (which you can usually find for FREE on Tpt!) Here is link to 2 of my favorites:
I like to include the numbers so students have to go around find items/places and then write the numbers down:
One other thing I love having parents do is fill out a quick personal note for their kid for that first day of school. I keep the notes and then have it waiting on the student's desk for that first moment they walk into class! Here is an example:
I always include a wish list for my parents to see-- if you don't ask, you will never receive! I've had years with lots of items given and years with only a few (and all were great years!)

One idea is to have a physical "piece" they can take home. Here is the succulent wish list I use in my room (it matches my theme):
Here is another example of a floral themed one:
It doesn't have to complicated-- even Post-it notes on the whiteboard would make a great display!
Lastly, I know a lot of teachers like to send home a small/simple gift for the visiting student. I've done a variety of "gifts" over the years:

Here is a link to the "write stuff" post and label (the bag had a set of crayons and 2 sharpened pencils inside).

Here is a link to the "Blow Pop" label Freebie

Below are links to my "Back to School" bundles (which includes lots of sign up forms, gift tags, and more!) So far I have succulent, floral, and forest themed bundles: 

I hope this post gave you some great ideas for your back to school night! If you have any questions feels free to leave them in the comments!

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