Friday, June 14, 2019

Relationships: School Wide Theme

Summer is coming and school is wrapping up. It might be a little soon to look into the future and make plans for my next class. Yet as exhausting as this year has been I have big plans and a part of me is very excited to start again. There are many students who feel the same way, but also many who dread walking through those doors and coming back to school. One thing my building has done for a few years now makes that first day a great one! It is kicked off with students parading into the building, music playing, and students in awe of the school being decorated.
Zootopia School Theme

Every year for the past few years our school has come up with a school-wide theme. This theme is often linked to learning or growth in some way. Our first year we had the theme of Zootopia and "Try Everything" was our motto. This past year we took inspiration from Moana and pondered "How far will I Grow?" We typically try to choose themes that will excite the students and draw from movies and music for inspiration.
Vines hang from the ceiling and paw prints on the floor

We had animals all over the school and each pod was a different animal.

With the Zootopia theme, we created a giant waterfall in our lobby. We hung vines through the halls. Each pod in our building chose an animal and used it for inspiration. The K-1 hall was monkies, 2-3 hall was snakes, and 4-5 hall was lions. We hung decals, animal print, lanterns in the hall. We even found quotes to spread throughout along with giant cardboard cutouts of animals. The moment we entered the building that first day to "Try Everything" playing from the speakers in the hall the kids were speechless. They were excited, some confused, and many just wondered what the rest of the year would hold.
Moana Ocean in the Windows

This past year Moana was our inspiration and we truly took our decorations up a notch. We had the entrance as if you were in the ocean using blue cellophane and created amazing looking jellyfish with ribbon and paper lanterns. Once you entered the lobby you had Moana's boat with HeiHei and ocean paper lined some walls as you approached the shore. As you move further into the room there was a giant volcano, palm trees, beach chairs, and umbrellas. We decorate bulletin boards in our hallways. We had blown up fish and a dolphin hanging from the ceiling, teachers decorated with Hawaiian flowers, flip flops, surfboards and more. It was fun to see the students react and get excited to walk through the school again. They were greeted as they entered and given a lei to welcome them into the new school year. Moana soundtrack played as students marched through the corridors as they were led to their new classroom. It's fun to create these amazing experiences and as the school year advances, we still reference the songs and motto throughout the year. It is a nice way to tie the school together and work together as a staff to do something powerful for the students.
Giant Light Up Volcano in the Lobby

I loved that this year the students almost expected it. The 4th graders asked questions and tried to guess what they think the theme will be for the next year. Students get excited and expect their teachers to be silly and do something special for them on the first day. That excitement is special, but also awesome because even after summer students are excited to come back if only for the surprises on the first day.
Moana's boat

This year we personally delivered tickets inviting students to "step right up" on the first day of school. We personally invited all students and mailed them to students who weren't home. It was an amazing experience and I hope it continues. We decided to do a carnival theme decorating the lobby with a rollercoaster, Ferris wheel, merry go round, and a ticket booth. My peers and I decorated our hall with popcorn and circus animals. I even dressed up on the first day in a top hat and a tailed red coat! It was a fair to remember as we paraded in on the first day to "This is Me". The tradition continues and at this time of year, we are looking forward to next year and what theme we might dive into next!

Do you or your school do anything special to ring in the new school year? What theme would you choose if your school had a whole school theme? As we wrap up this school year what are you going to do now to make the next year even better?

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