Bon voyage! This school year we are setting sail with our year-long theme, “Cruising Through Kindergarten.” Read more and climb aboard our classroom ship for a fun-filled cruise through the school year. You can see some of our classroom theme decorations, bulletin boards, and future learning activities. In this post, you can also get a sneak peek at some future blog posts on my Top Teaching kindergarten and early childhood blog. Welcome aboard, matey!
Setting up your classroom with a year-long theme can be a fun, purposeful way to decorate your classroom and create a sense of classroom community. I was inspired by the possibilities a cruise theme could bring to my classroom after taking an Eastern Caribbean cruise with my husband this summer. Once I started going with this cruise ship theme, ideas for learning activities started to flow.
Cruising Through Kindergarten Timeline/Reflection Treasure Map
I have an unusual wall in my classroom that is architecturally beautiful, but its functionality as a classroom wall is not so good. After three years of doing different things with this wall, I've finally found a great use: I am turning it into a working timeline/treasure hunt. As we cruise through each month on the way to June, where “X marks the spot,” we will be putting up small picture reminders of what we have learned throughout the year. It will be a big reflection of the learning that occurs during the year. Make sure to check back for a future post about interactive bulletin boards to hear more about this fantastic learning tool.
Meet the Crew
I purchased two plastic cruise ship scene-setters from Shindigz.com and put them up as the backdrop of this interactive bulletin board. It really looks like the view from the deck of a cruise ship. I also purchased a plastic wheel and life preserver and took pictures of the kids wearing a captain’s hat and pretending to steer the ship. The photos of the students will be placed on this board, along with laminated speech bubbles. Each week throughout the year, students will interact with this board as they answer questions and share messages by writing directly on the speech bubble. In a future post about interactive bulletin boards, I will explain and demonstrate this board in action.
Cruising Around the World
As we are cruising through kindergarten, we will also be cruising around the world. Not only will we learn about many different countries and cultures, but we will interact with them. This classroom theme suits my strong philosophy of giving my students opportunities to be global citizens and using technology to connect people from around the world. Especially if you are an international teacher, please comment below. Maybe we can connect with you this year via Skype!
A few other ideas for this classroom theme
• Suitcase Story- A colleague of mine, Karen Garrett, does this in her kindergarten classroom and her students love it. She picks a story each day and puts it in her grandfather’s old suitcase. After recess, her students are eager to come back in and see what book is in the suitcase for their read-aloud. Just by putting the book in the suitcase, she adds suspense and catches student interest. Because it goes along so well with my classroom theme, I am going to try something similar to this. I am thinking of sending a suitcase home as a traveling story; students can put a favorite book from home in the suitcase to be read aloud in school. It will be a neat way for students to share books that are interesting to them.
• Each month we are going to study a new country, including its customs and native animals. We will likely use Google Earth to plot and record our trip each month.
• As we travel and learn about a country, with help from parents we might be able to taste some traditional foods.
• I am thinking about creating a class movie and using a green screen to put kids in the different countries with their popular landmarks in the background. The students can briefly share some things they learned about the countries.
Here are a few sayings and bulletin board headers that go with my cruise ship theme:
Nautical News (as a title for a classroom newsletter)
SEA What We Have Been Doing
Charting Our Course or Staying Our Course (for the title of a curricular focus wall)
Learning Can Take you Anywhere
“Oh the Places You’ll Go”
Shipshape Students' Work
Sailing into 1st Grade
Tying your classroom décor together with a year-long theme makes the decorations more purposeful and helps to create a classroom community. To read about other creative classroom themes, visit my colleague Beth Newingham's post Creative School Year Themes.
Future Blog Topics
Assessing Students and Differentiating Instruction
Interactive Bulletin Boards to Teach
Project-based Learning and Service Learning Projects
Creating Videos with our Youngest Students
The ONE Computer Challenge
Goal-setting with Young Students
Traveling Classroom Mascot Activities
… and much more!
I am excited to be back writing for a third year on Scholastic.com. I’d love to hear about your classroom themes and any suggestions for blog posts. Please comment below to share and make sure to visit my blog every other Tuesday! I’m looking forward to another great year!