You may have looked at a picture of a classroom transformation and thought that it was expensive to put together, took a lot of time to set-up, or was too distracting during math lessons. However, none of this is true! Room transformations are engaging, easy to construct, and exciting for both you and your students. Let’s clarify 4 myths about classroom transformations.
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myth 1: They’re Too Expensive
“That must’ve cost a fortune to set up!” was probably your first thought upon seeing the detective classroom transformation. However, there’s no right or wrong way to do a transformation. YOU get to decide how much effort you put into it. From the time you spend setting it up to how much you spend on decorations, it’s your choice. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, there is no need to! There are many low-cost and even free choices when pursuing a classroom transformation. Myths about classroom transformations like “this is going to cost me so much money” just aren’t true!
low-cost decorations to add to your classroom transformation
Go to the Dollar Store. There are so many cheap decorations there (any of which your students would appreciate). A perfect example of this would be the Hawaii Classroom Transformation. There’s always beach stuff at the Dollar Store, from leis to sunglasses. I’ve completed Hawaii Day spending less than $10 total and my students loved it!
Another idea is to buy from Amazon in bulk. There are lots of deals out there and buying a bunch of little trinkets can be cheaper than you’d expect. And the great thing is, you can reuse the decorations you buy for years to come! Future classes will adore the decorations just as much as the class you originally did the transformation with. Just make sure to tell your students to return all the transformation items at the end of the day. On Safari Day, my kids are given hats to wear through the transformation. But before the day ends, I remember to collect and store the hats until the following year.
With any transformation, tablecloths can be a lifesaver. They quickly set the scene, and are an exciting change of environment for students. Buy a few different colors from the Dollar Store or Walmart, put them on your tables or the floor, and you’re all set. Or, if you’re looking to transform your classroom to the fullest but can’t afford the decorations you need, apply for a grant to get more expensive items.
Free Options for Classroom Transformations
If you’re looking to spend no money, don’t be afraid to shoot out an email asking parents for donations. Most are happy to help be a part of their kid’s learning, or even just looking to get rid of some old decorations in their garage. On that note, check around your house for items that would fit the transformation.
For Firefighter Day, I brought in my garden hose to use as a prop. And for Realtor Day, I brought in old “For Sale” sign I had in my garage. If you’re doing a Halloween Classroom Transformation, you can bring your own Halloween decorations straight to your classroom for the day!
myth 2: They’re Too Much Work to Set Up
You might be worried about how long classroom transformations take to set up. You have a busy day, after all, and not much time leftover. However, there are many ways to manage your time so you’re not staying at school till 7 PM setting up your room.
My favorite method is to set a time limit for setting up my classroom and not go over it. You can allow yourself 30 minutes before school begins to decorate your classroom, and if you end up not finishing in time, don’t worry! Your kids won’t notice what you didn’t finish. They’ll only notice what you did put up. You can also invite parent volunteers into your classroom to help you decorate your room–they’ll be glad to see how much effort you put into teaching their kids.
No matter how much time you spend setting your classroom up, your students will love it. A transformation changes the normal environment of the classroom, which is always exciting. It helps to think about needs versus wants when planning out a transformation. Do you need to buy that extra decoration to make it a fun day, or do you just want it?
Don’t Go Overboard
Let’s think about the Donut Shop Classroom Transformation. It may be fun to buy each of your students a donut hat, or buy a bunch of blow-up donuts. But, that’s not necessary to complete the transformation. What’s the only TRUE decoration you need for Donut Day? A donut as a prize for each student upon completion. Your students will LOVE IT even if there are no decorations anywhere around the room.
Again, during Bowling Day, you don’t need to buy 10 bowling sets so each student team has a bowling set. Just buy one and have students take turns! Your students will never know the difference, and they’ll have a great time either way. This thought process has really helped me figure out which areas to spend money on when doing any room transformation.
Think About Clean-Up Ahead of Time
To lessen your workload, have your students help you clean up the transformation at the end of the day! Take five minutes and assign different tasks to groups of students. Maybe Table One’s job is to take down the tablecloths, while Table Two picks up trash, and Table Three stacks your posters into a pile. Having twenty helpers on your side makes transformations a lot less stressful to complete. Myths about classroom transformations like “they’re too much work” cease to exist when you have your class help you!
Bonus Tip! Laminate, laminate, laminate. If you want to save time for future years of classroom transformations, laminate the posters and challenges for a quicker set-up next time. Not only does it save time, but also money for printing paper.
myth 3: Kids Won’t Listen
With so much excitement throughout the day, you may be worried about your kids listening to you. However, as long as you make your behavior expectations clear at the beginning of the transformation, things will run just as smoothly as a normal day.
Set Behavior Expectations At the Beginning
Plan things out ahead of time. Tell students how they’ll be working–will they be working individually? If they’re working with partners, do they get to choose their partner or are you deciding for them?
Next, warn students of the consequences of misbehaving. If they don’t listen or finish their work, tell them that they won’t be able to participate in the fun end-of-day activity or receive a prize. For the students who finish their work early, be prepared to engage them so they won’t distract other students. Have a worksheet or separate activity ready for them after they finish their regular work. This also works for students who get off task easily, which allows you not to have to deal with their behavior during the room transformation.
Be Clear and Plan Ahead
Once you’ve laid out all your rules, host a Q&A session with your students. Make sure they understand their expectations and know what to do throughout the day. Once they figure out how exciting the transformation is going to be, let them get their energy out by allowing them to talk with friends.
It also helps to select a few kids who can be leaders or helpers throughout the transformation. If you are busy helping another student, have a student leader assist their classmate. Friends listen to friends, and student leaders can be a helpful voice in explaining a difficult math concept.
Parent volunteers can also help out a lot during room transformations. Not only can they keep kids on task, but check their work for you while you’re helping other students. Myths about classroom transformations like “kids won’t listen” don’t apply when you plan your day out and have clear expectations.
myth 4: Kids Won’t Learn Anything
A classroom transformation seems like so much fun, it can be difficult to be assured that students are actually learning academic skills. Don’t worry, they are!
Decide What skills you will focus on
Room transformations are always content-based, meaning students learn plenty throughout the day. They are perfect for review days before tests. Instead of boring test prep, a room transformation brings your students to life and gets them excited to learn. Hands-on activities have been shown to make learning more concrete and help students remember more. A room transformation makes that possible.
As long as you have behavior expectations in place, students will do their work. Make sure to layout your rules for the day before the transformation begins–your kids will listen if they know the consequences of misbehaving or what rewards are waiting for them once they finish the transformation.
Incentives are amazing for encouraging students to learn! Any small trinket, like an eraser or a certificate, is a great way to motivate your students to finish their work. In the process, they’re learning what you want them to do and staying on task.
Check-In With Students Throughout the Day
A way to make sure students are absorbing the content is to check each paper they finish. This allows you to see where kids might be struggling, or what you need to review later on. You can also call out your expectation points after a certain period of time–after 10 minutes, you tell your students that they should have 1/10 of the challenges completed, and on. Having a running timer keeps students engaged in the activity instead of getting distracted by the excitement.
It’s important you tell your students that you expect them to be working and not playing. To ensure they follow this rule, have a meeting at the end of the room transformation and ask what they learned. What was the goal of the lesson? Students are often excited to share the fun they had throughout the day. Myths about classroom transformations like “kids won’t learn anything” just aren’t true!
Hopefully, this post on 4 myths about classroom transformations cleared up any misconceptions for you! They are so worth the effort, and much simpler than you would expect to set up. Whether you’re looking for a fun review activity or a hands-on math game, room transformations are for you.
Are you new to this idea and ready to try a classroom transformation? I’m here to help! Be sure to check out my additional posts with classroom transformation tips and follow me on Instagram where I share even more resources and tips for teachers.
Want to add some fun decorations to your next room transformation? I’ve got you covered right here with my Classroom Transformation Decoration Lists!