In my classroom I constantly try to create lessons and experiences that allow students to get excited about learning. I have done many classroom flips, changing the space into environments, scenes, and locations that allow engagement and inspiration to take hold. In the past few years, I have created a list of must haves that can be used to transform your room or any lesson!
1. Bright Green Table Cloth
This is a a great tool that is super cheap. The green table cloth works as a economic version of a green screen. I recently purchased the DoInk app on my iPhone and using a green table cloth had my students create newscast book reports. These reports were on books they read in small groups. It was great to see them collaborate and create something based on the literature they read in class.
With the use of this app and the green table cloths the possibilities are endless. We can take our students all over the world, into their own work, or even use it to record ourselves to make the next lesson come alive! Next time you’re in the party aisle at Walmart, or at the dollar tree, grab a couple.It can be scary trying something new, but the payoff is amazing, and the students always rise to the occasion. Click To Tweet
2. Black Lights
I really love doing lessons that pop! Black lights can make that happen, especially if you have students search for evidence or clues with highlighters. I have created lessons that involve students searching for text evidence or key words in order to support their answers or decipher word problems. Black lights help set the scene, as well as just get kids excited! I have used it for both my Author’s Purpose Flight Academy and my Carmen Sandiego Main I-Deer lesson. Some really great black lights are around $30 on Amazon and I have used 2-3 to make my room really glow.
3. Tool Box
It is important to never underestimate the power of the unknown. A tool box can be a great tool to help make students excited and wonder what is inside. You can use this as part of an escape room activity, mystery reward, or just hide clues or materials for lessons with in them. There is something about a mystery chest that really brings excitement and it is a cheap item that can be used over and over again.[scroll down to keep reading]
Who doesn’t like dressing up? Over the past few years, I have collected props and costumes from clearance sales, garage sales, and Amazon. At this point, I have a section in my classroom cabinet dedicated to my magical array of materials. I’m not saying you need to go buy out Party City, but consider collecting some props or costumes that allow you to dive into the material you teach.
For me, this means material for Greek chitons, a lab coat, chef hat, bomber jacket, police badge, and only a few too many random props. Think about the lessons you teach, and see if there are any props or costumes that could really help embody that lesson or transform into a character.
5. Music/ Sound Effects
YouTube is our friend. It is a tool that has so many uses in the classroom. One way I use it is to set the mood. There are so many different types of videos of YouTube, but I especially like instrumentals and sound effects. I love playing different music or sounds to help add to a lesson or room transformation. For my Author’s Purpose Academy, I used an airplane sound. For my science chocolate lab, I used the soundtrack of Willy Wonka. For my Olympian challenge, I used the sound of the wind to make it sound like we were on Olympus creeping up on Zeus. Setting the tone can really help your students become invested and play along with the lesson and believe the experience in front of them.
Don’t forget, all of this can change your classroom if you are invested. Students will play along if you act the part, get excited, and have a good attitude. It can be scary trying something new, but the payoff is amazing, and the students always rise to the occasion.
Good Luck on transforming your classroom!
Looking to see some of my ideas? Check out teachingpowerplay.com
About Megan Lee
Megan Lee is 5th-grade teacher in Galesburg, IL. She has been teaching for 5 years and has worked in a variety of leadership and curriculum planning roles. She has a blog: teachingpowerplay.com where she shares a variety of ideas to create a classroom/ school community as well as creating creative lessons on a budget. Her lessons involve both academic rigor, but high engagement that makes the students excited to take on the challenge.
Official Site: teachingpowerplay.com