Although this school year has just begun, it’s already been a great one so far in Room 7! I have 30 bright-eyed, adorable, and very curious first graders in my class! Did I mention how adorable they are? This year, I decided to set up a thematic “Beach” reading corner in my room to get my students extra excited about reading. Thanks to Oriental Trading Company, it was easy to create one.
A photo of my classroom setup in process with my “Beach” Reading Corner in process. I’m obsessed with all of the plush sea animals on the canopy. My favorite is the octopus! It was so much fun to set up my classroom this year.
Here are the items I ordered from Oriental Trading Company’s online site to create my reading corner:
- Under the Sea Canopy Tent
- Inflatable Flocked Reading Chairs
- Surf’s Up Surfboard Backdrop Banner
- Sandcastle Corrugated Roll
- DIY Sun bulletin board set
- Bubbles Bulletin Board Numbers & Letters
- Fish Bulletin Board Cutouts
- Plush Clown Fish
The DIY Sun was really easy to assemble. How cute is the face?
I could’ve easily ordered a bunch of other things too but I held back. (maybe next time) Everything was so easy to put together and hang up. I don’t think my classroom has ever looked this cute before!
What NOT To Do With Your Reading Corner at the Beginning of the School Year
Let’s first talk about what NOT to do with your reading corner at the beginning of the school year. I guess I got so excited about my thematic reading corner and had it all set up and ready to go the first day of school! What I didn’t really think about was the fact that my students might not be ready for IT that soon. On the first day of school, the worst possible thing happened….someone popped one of the green reading chairs! (Ok maybe that wasn’t the WORST thing that could’ve happened, but it was bad) Yep, it was a little girl in my class and she jumped onto it when my back was turned. I heard the noise of the pop, which was followed by a whole bunch of gasps from other students. It was at that moment that I suddenly remembered how important it was to set up my classroom expectations and review the procedures for the reading corner BEFORE allowing them to use it! I should’ve known better, especially since it’s not my first year teaching. I guess I just got forgot since I was so excited.
Establishing Rules and Procedures in the Classroom For the Reading Corner
Before you can utilize your reading corner, it’s very necessary to introduce and review the rules and procedures for how you want the children to behave and use the area. It’s very important to establish your expectations for them and to even do several sessions of practicing WHAT to do. I, often times, find that my own students need a lot more guidance because they come from homes where there is very little structure and many just haven’t learned basic ways to treat things, especially things that belong to others that they may be using. I also find that my students do really well, once I have explained and modeled my expectations and let them practice.
It’s also important to build a classroom community and give the students ownership so they feel like it belongs to them. The beginning of first grade is a big change for the students who are coming from kindergarten. I think it’s important to help them feel like our classroom is theirs and the items in our classroom are also theirs to use. The reading corner is a place they can choose to visit when they have finished their work, to read quietly. If they feel it’s theirs, they’ll treat it with respect and use it the right way.
Motivating and Keeping Students Accountable Using the Plush Clown Fish
I am SO happy that I decided to order a dozen of the Plush Clown Fish for my classroom this year. I’m using the fish to motivate my students in the classroom and also as a way to hold them accountable for staying on task.
Each morning, I have 12 glitter clothespins clipped to 12 of the fish on the wall. When the students arrive at school, they look to see who has a clip and those are the students who will have the privilege of “reading with a fish” that day and having them on their desk. ONE of the 12 students is also the student who gets to sit in the reading chair that day.Students may read with a fish on the carpet, they may also read with a fish at their desk.
Wherever they choose to read, they are held accountable in the sense that if I see them off task or playing around, I take the fish away and move to glitter clip to another student’s name for the day. (When that happens, they get really sad). It’s adorable to see them reading with the fish. Never underestimate the power of a stuffed animal with a first grader!
The students actually say that their fish help them read better!
The reading chair is the most sought-after seat in room 7!
I am so excited to see how much growth my students make this year and how well they progress in their academics. It already seems like my Beach Reading Corner is keeping them motivated and I have Oriental Trading Company to thank for helping me out with that!
Disclosure: I received products from Oriental Trading Company in order to write my review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.