Help me create the best grade 6 classroom ever!
November 21, 2012 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Help me create the best grade 6 classroom ever… with a budget of $200.

My brother, in his quest to be everyone’s favourite teacher ever, wants to have the best classroom ever, and has enlisted my help. The class is grade 6 (11-12 year olds) in a not-so-rich suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

What he already has:
- Musical equipment: drums, keyboard, guitar, etc.
- Our old tan leather couch, brown rug, cushions
- A bookcase with books
- Brand new chairs on the way, in red, blue and light blue

Things I have:
- $200
- Enough time to order things off the internet and have them posted
- A sewing machine
- Enough time and patience to make things myself, I’m not put off by projects that are time consuming or fiddly

Some vague ideas I have:
- Basketball theme
- Music theme
- World map/world flags/map of Australia
- Some sort of roof decorations
- Different biome themes around the room – beach, desert, rainforest
- Some sort of interactive artwork that the kids can work on during the year
- Some way to display work that the kids do throughout the year

I’m hoping for some ideas for a classroom that looks great, and also has some sort of educational merit, and on how to get the most impact on my budget. Please throw any and all ideas at me!!
posted by peppermintfreddo to Education (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
just a small thing, but how about some super awesome, unique hall passes (bathroom, library, nurse, locker, etc...)? Find weird objects, like ping pong paddles, or wooden shoes, or maybe something that works with the school's mascot. Paint them bright colors, and then paint maybe a funny play on words about a trip to the bathroom (or whatever the pass is for).
posted by hasna at 10:01 PM on November 21, 2012

My favorite teacher at that age had a lending library of books that we could check out from her. Some were specialty (or heavy genre stuff that our library didn't have because they were so niche but appealed to a few selected kids in the class) some were beautiful copies of classics and some were just things she loved. My FAVORITE part was that there was a "parental permission" section of sexy/incendiary/banned/violent/revolutionary books. Your parents could sign a permission slipped based on a per book or whole shelf basis. The slips had attached summaries of the books which would make for good dinner table conversation at home.

My best friend also recently revealed to me that she didn't love reading but sneakily borrowed and read every book on the shelf because it was illicit.

I also suggest: snacks or a microwave. Being treated like enough of an adult to toast a Poptart in that same class made me really respectful of cleaning up my mess and more able to think during class because I was never hungry.
posted by Saminal at 10:24 PM on November 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

My son's fifth grade teacher was considered awesome by all the kids because he had a reading bathtub in his room. It was an old clawfoot tub, brightly painted on the outside and with comfy pillows within. If you were good, you got a turn to sit in the tub and read during breaks.
posted by LarryC at 10:26 PM on November 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

No. No no no no no. Unique hall passes are the worst, especially when then are giant and impossible to conceal. Have you been at a gas station with a bunch of other people where you were required to take a key attached to a, like a hubcap to the bathroom? Its annoying.

And imagine having to ask for it while Landon, the love of your eleven year old life is watching you. No.

Is grade six in Melbourne still elementary school? Meaning, are they in the same room all day, learning a variety of subjects rather than moving from teacher to teacher?

I think the couch is an excellent touch. One year we had a nook surrounded by bookcases with beanbag chairs by a window that I loved. It was somewhere you could go if you finished an assignment before everyone else, or turned a test in early. The fact that it was a fun place to hang out sort of encouraged me to finish my work quickly instead of just playing around.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 10:40 PM on November 21, 2012

Contact the local hacker/maker spaces for help. A few donated LCD screens could run off of one computer to display kids artwork, projects, etc. A wall mounted fold out project desk could store parts on the shelves, and secure them when it's not supposed to be in use.
posted by Sophont at 10:43 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a wall loom as an art project that kids can work on? If you can fashion some kind of large frame and string it with yarn, string, thread etc., then the kids can weave in various materials throughout the year. Maybe the colours could be themed by season, or holidays. At the end of the year there should be a large piece of wall art that every kid has contributed to. Weaving is simple enough that everyone can have a go and feel like they contributed.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 1:07 AM on November 22, 2012

Chicken wire and clothes pins. Cover one whole wall with chicken wire and use it to hang stuff so the room always changes and so it is a collaborative space between students and teacher. Like this:
posted by jeanmari at 4:05 AM on November 22, 2012

Can he have a classroom pet, like a bunny or fish or lizards? I've painted things on the floor. One year I did a periodic table of elements using the tile squares as the different blocks on the table. Another time I was teaching US history and I painted a map of the US on the floor and used it as a teaching tool. The kids loved to get up and move around and jump on the section of the Louisiana Purchase, or I would direct them to stand on a freed slave state, etc.

These are all great ideas, and as a middle school principal I appreciate the teachers who personalize their rooms and make them engaging spaces. But consider: Is your brother new to teaching? If so, all of these things will quickly backfire on him if he is not a supreme classroom manager. New teachers typically struggle with classroom management more than anything else, especially in 6th grade. Without structure and firm procedures, nothing he creates is going to work in his favor. In fact, they will become distractions and make his job that much more difficult. 6th graders have a frustrating awareness of fairness and don't understand fair doesn't mean equal, so anything "special" in his room needs to have a structure around it so that students don't think he is being unfair if it is a reward for something. Every year I see the new teachers whose "fun" thing in their room becomes the first thing they get rid of because they are not skilled enough yet to integrate it into the structure and routine that is vital to a successful classroom.
posted by archimago at 4:35 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

My 6th grade classroom had a pet rat (Popcorn) & hamster (Ms. Cocoa). We got to take them out of their cages & play with them at our desks when we finished our work. Nearly 30 years later, I still vividly remember how awesome we thought this was.
posted by belladonna at 7:10 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Board games for free time.
Some sort of building sets (Legos, something boys would like as well as girls)
Bulletin board paper and trim (I always had to buy this myself)

Once he gets his classroom operating and he's into the curriculum he'll find other items that he'll want to make awesome learning experiences. This takes money, too. Maybe save some money for use during the school year.

I always found that yard sales/garage sales were the best places to pick up cheap books, games, furniture, and other items that kids would think are great prizes. Yard sales are a teacher's best friend!
posted by LilBit at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2012

While I think the videos are geared to a younger audience, you might get some inspiration from this guy.
posted by oceano at 9:46 PM on November 22, 2012

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