Coming back from winter break is easily one of the toughest times of the school year. The days are short, the weather is bleak, and getting back into a routine after a week or so of lazy days can feel like torture for both teachers and students. But winter doesn’t have to be such a difficult time. Lift your spirits as well as your students’ with these simple tips to decorate and brighten your classroom. It may be grey outside, but inside can feel cheery and warm no matter the weather.
Winter is depressing for many people due to the lack of color outside. In many parts of the country, trees are bare, skies are grey, and everything is covered in white snow (or icky grey slush). Up the visual cues in your classroom by decorating with bright, warm colors. Stay away from neon, which can get obnoxious and distracting, and opt for bold, saturated hues instead. Decorate your classroom with splashes of raspberry, tangerine, and sunny yellow. Whether in posters, on a bulletin board, or even in accents like floor pillows or curtains, these colors will brighten the mood in the classroom by creating the illusion of more light. These colors will also have a refreshing effect, helping everyone stay more awake and ready to learn.
It’s important that there are no strong scents in a classroom, since certain kids may have strong aversions to odors, making it difficult to learn. Also, many students today may have allergies, and strong, perfume-like scents can exacerbate these conditions. However, subtle, natural scents can help wake up a room and provide an element of crispness to the air. The smells of peppermint or citrus have stimulating properties that help people feel more awake and refreshed. Candles are against most school’s fire codes, but air fresheners like scented sticks in a jar work well. Even having a small bowl of mint candy sitting out or peeling an orange and letting the peel sit out can infuse a subtle scent into the air that may keep everyone alert longer.
This seems like a basic tip, but try to let natural sunlight into your classroom as much as possible. Many schools come equipped with light-blocking shades on the windows for when sunlight glares or teachers need a dark room for a movie or other projection. But when you get used to the darkness, it’s easy to forget to open those shades again and let the light in. Even if you can only do this at the beginning and end of a class due to the lesson, just a few minutes of light send cues to the body that it’s time to be awake, not asleep.
Not only do plants provide oxygen and help us breathe better, they bring life and color inside. When temperatures are freezing outdoors and you’re shut inside with hot, recycled air, having extra oxygen is a huge bonus that can improve your health and well-being. Also, plants add depth of color and life that is lacking outdoors during the winter months, which can really lift your spirits.
New Seating Arrangement
Sometimes all it takes to break monotony is literally having a new perspective. Changing the seating plan or desk layout in your classroom will give your students a new point of view, which can liven up their perspectives. It’s easy to get used to the same routine day after day, so being able to look at the classroom from a new vantage point provides a nice change of pace will keep everyone on their toes.
Keeping students motivated in the winter months can be tough, but by following these tips, you and your students will feel more refreshed and awake, even if spring is months away.