Back to school season can be chaotic and overwhelming. We’re establishing routines, teaching new procedures, assessing what students know, and so much more. Between all of the things that we are responsible for, sometimes it can be hard to fit in some fun. Doing a classroom transformation in the beginning of the year with my new class really helps set the stage for what our year will be like together. It also helps to build our classroom community. These are my 4 favorite back to school classroom transformations.
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BACK TO SCHOOL CLASSROOM TRANSFORMATION #1: CANDY SHOP
I love doing a candy shop classroom transformation in the beginning of the year because it’s a theme every kid will enjoy. I also find that doing this theme brings out their excitement (especially with candy balloons!). This shows me each of their personalities and how they are unique. We get to start building our relationships and get to know each other during the fun we are having together. Back to school classroom transformations are great for this!
I decorate the room with a few blow up pieces of candy (see tootsie roll and smarties in photo above) and a few balloons hanging from the ceiling. I can set this up in about 30 minutes! And the extras are NOT necessary. You can simply print the recording sheets, posters, and papers. Then, you are ready to go! Or, you can assign any of my room transformations digitally to save on any prep at all.
If I’m doing this with older students, I let them estimate how much candy is in each container I set out and the closest person gets to take home the candy as a prize! If I’m doing this with younger students, they earn a piece of candy after each challenge they complete.
BACK TO SCHOOL TRANSFORMATION #2: SAFARI
I have never had a class that doesn’t enjoy this room transformation! In this African Safari, students solve ten math challenges by traveling from animal to animal around the room. They are all animals that can be found in Africa and there are even fun facts for students to learn about each one (while wearing their cute safari hats!).
I go simple on the decorations. I put paw prints on the door (or sometimes on the ground leading up to the door!) and put some safari hats on each student’s desk. But again, the extras are not needed. All you need are your posters and math challenges to complete this activity. I strive to make this as easy as possible so you don’t have to do anything but worry about having fun with your students during room transformations!
Another easy extra I like to use during the African Safari Classroom Transformation is these admission tickets. The day before, or the morning of, I hand these out to students to set the stage to engage. The kids leave school so excited and always come back the next morning eager to do some math!
BACK TO SCHOOL CLASSROOM TRANSFORMATION #3: SURGERY
A doctor classroom transformation is incredibly easy to do and probably one of the most well-known room transformations out there. All you really need are some gloves and a mask for each student. This is also a covid-friendly room transformation during the pandemic. I provide each student with a highlighter that looks like a syringe to use to find important key words and math terms while working. If they work hard and complete all ten challenges, they get to take the syringe home with them. It’s such a great motivator!
While students are working, they end up having a lot of papers. I give each student a folder to put their documents inside of so they don’t have a large amount of papers in their work area. This keeps everyone organized and my room a lot less chaotic. Students also enjoy the folders because it makes them feel like real doctors!
In the picture above, you can see a poster with one of the challenges set up next to it. The goal is for students to perform all ten “surgeries” and become a “true” doctor by the end. I love to give out a certificate to each child when they finish to make it even more engaging. Back to school classroom transformations are perfect for helping students practice a skill without realizing how much they are learning!
Learn more about the specifics of a doctor classroom transformation here.
BACK TO SCHOOL ROOM TRANSFORMATION #4: BOWLING
Did you know that you can easily turn your classroom into a bowling alley? And did you know that it costs next to nothing? Target and Amazon both offer cheap bowling sets that don’t take up much space and are inflatable. I love inflatable items because they’re easy to store later. I love having students complete the bowling alley classroom transformation at the beginning of the year because it encourages collaboration and teamwork.
A few other decorations are put up around the room but this room transformation is pretty minimal prep-wise. Set up the ten posters and ten challenges. Blow up an inflatable bowling set and arrange it somewhere it won’t be in the way of students walking around. Then, let students begin!
The goal is to finish all ten math challenges. After each challenge, students get to bowl and fill in their bowling card (shown above). By the end of all 10 challenges, they should have a complete bowling card. They can compare their score with other students and I always have students cheer at the end for our champion high-scorer.
Read more about how to do a bowling classroom transformation in this blog post.
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