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Our Brain Friendly Classroom

While my students and I really enjoyed my classroom makeover this past year I felt it still needed some work. At the end of each year teachers clean out and dump left over up for grabs in the lobby. I spotted this beauty there! OK it was destined for the trash with its sagging shelves and unstapled back and it screamed to me as a spectacular place to store projects for my new Kinders. Of course the next step was to bribe my husband to come pick it up and help me fix it. A task I knew he would do because it is his passion to help my students in any way he can, :) My seven year old son and I got to work sanding down the scratched surface and then I put six coats of poly on it. Now wasn't that worth it? I can't wait to set it into place in my room.

Next up was the book display. I love this display and the kids love talking about all the books we read together during our whole group discussion lessons. The problem came with how to store those huge big books I had not read yet. Wala! Lee again created a small holder that will allow me to keep the books off the floor and safe and sound until we read them. Can't wait to load into my hatchback and put it in just the right space.

Lastly, was the great coffee table we used all year long. I love to sit on it and talk with my class. The kids loved to work at it often sitting on the floor to work. The problem was the the white paint I had used to spruce it up last year had flaked off, a bit assisted I might add. So what to do??? My three littles at home and I went right to work scraping and sanding. After the legs were clean I decided to keep the top white. Then I got my inspiration! I took the door mat from the back door and used paint I got from our free teacher store and painted two light coats over the mat. Then I polyed the top with several coats of clear poly so it would not get scratched. Lastly I decided not to paint the legs again for fear they would chip. I found an old can of white gel stain and sparsely coated then wiped off the legs. I LOVE it.

The absolute last thing I asked my husband to create was a wooden mailbox system. I wanted the natural wood to continue the calming tone of the classroom. Right now it is cut and sanded and awaiting several coats of poly. I can't wait to see it on my shelf. I am so lucky to have such a handy and willing husband. Thanks honey!
Here's how he made them.

UPDATE!!! Lee just finished glueing and nailing my new mailboxes!! I'm in love!!!!!!!

These are the most up to date photos of my Kindergarten classroom. The only tables left are at the STEM Explorations tables. Children may choose from wobble seats, rocker chairs, mats, benches, and the couch. I LOVE these choices but most of all they LOVE them. I can't see myself ever going back to a seat and table for everyone.

Very Exciting to just learn that our classroom was just featured on Classroom Cribs 2014!

Having taken a webinar by Erin Klein on "Brain Friendly Classrooms" this summer I have decided to redo the theme of our classroom. I hope students enjoy the tranquil home like atmosphere. I am sure they will be more comfortable choosing their own seat daily either at a table, our reading nook, or a cozy comfy seat.
 Classroom Crib Challenge Teacher: Jacqueline Durant-Harthorne
 Bio: I am a second grade teacher with a masters degree in Special Education and a certification for general education k-8 I have an undergraduate degree in Recreation Therapy which often enhances my education degree within the classroom. I have taught in public education for 15 years. Classroom Crib: About the Design: Children’s learning is becoming increasingly challenging and complex. The demands on teachers is ever increasing and at times overwhelming. I am always looking for ways reach my students. Recently, I was fortunate enough to have a friend forward me Erin Klien’s Webinar, Setting Up a Brain-Friendly, Beautiful Classroom. After completing the webinar, I could hardly wait to start our new design journey. At first I thought I would change the furniture and then keep the brightly colored bulletin boards, book boxes and boarders. As I made changes, however, I realized that the calming Feng Shui feel was so inviting that it begged for more change. Ten hours later and $75.00 poorer I was finished and ready for my student’s review and possible ideas for changes. Will our new space change our teaching and learning? I believe it will impact our moods and interactions. This new design lends itself to my teaching of Daily 5 Reading and Math. Our room allows for student choice in where they sit and work comfortably throughout their day. Strategic placement of supplies allows for movement for children who need frequent breaks to sustain focus. Keeping posters minimal, posting only those we are using, helps to keep the walls less visually over-stimulating. Overall feel of the room is warm and inviting, a space that’s enjoyable to spend 6 hours a day. Teachers feedback has further supported these design changes. Most importantly my students were responsible, excited, and felt respected while in our classroom. Class/Personal Website: On Pinterest:

My classroom before my Brian Friendly Makeover

While I LOVED my red poppy material on my bulletin boards it really did make me feel more edgy when looking at it. I saved it thinking if I ever changed my mind but to be honest now I like the calming colors so much better. I think my students do too.

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