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by Rachel Stepp
By creatively designing parts of your classroom, you can intrigue students to utilize these areas properly and often. One space that I think is important to put time into designing is the classroom library.
The Reading Pond
- PICK A SPOT. Designate one corner of your classroom as the reading area. This area can carry an enchanting theme of the “Reading Pond” by incorporating cool colors (blues & greens), water themes, and maybe even a pet fish or two!
- FABRIC. To get started, drape some strips of blue fabric from the ceiling to create fabric swag over the lights. This will add softer lighting to this area. At the end of the fabric, drape blue bead curtains or skinny strips of blue fabric that go all the way to the floor. The curtain of fabric hanging from the ceiling to the floor will create a secluded area where students will feel comfortable reading. The blue fabric can be the “waterfall” that fills the “Reading Pond.”
- PAINT. Paint your bookshelves blue as if they are water. Fill your shelves with all kinds of books that students would be interested in reading. Display the books in baskets, so that the covers face forward. When students are able to look at the covers instead of just the spines of books, they are more likely to choose a book they will enjoy.
- PEER INVOLVEMENT. Along the wall, give the students an area where they can suggest books to their classmates. Call this area, “Catch a good book!” Draw or cut out a fishing pole and put it on the wall. Also, cut out many blank fish shapes out of construction paper. These paper fish can be stored in a clear fishbowl that is accessible to the students. Students can recommend a good book to their peers by writing the title, author, and their name on a paper fish and then taping it to the wall.
- PILLOWS AND STUFFED FRIENDS. Floor space should be comfortable so that students want to spend time in the reading area. You can do this by putting green bean bag chairs or green pillows that represent “lily pads” in the “Reading Pond.” You can also add pond-related stuffed animals such as frogs, fish, and water snakes that students can read to and have as reading companions.
This is just one idea for making your classroom creative and inviting. Remember, it is important to create an environment that makes your students feel safe and comfortable so that they can challenge themselves in the classroom. It would even be possible to carry to water theme throughout your entire classroom!
Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at the University of Georgia, currently working on a Masters in Early Childhood Education.