I LOVE a good classroom transformation. They engage students and they cover high-level content. It is a win, win! But they can also be overwhelming and can cause anxiety.
Let’s answer a few questions first.
What is a transformation?
A transformation is where you add items to your room to turn it into a new learning space and experience. You then prepare content that matches that learning space.
For example, you could turn your room into a doctors office and do reading surgery! Or you could add some chef materials and make a restaurant! The ideas go on and on.
Why do transformations?
They are SO much fun for your students and your students get so engaged that they don’t even realize that they are learning.
I typically do a transformation during my most rigorous content! They stay focused the entire time and truly learn so much!
If you search on Pinterest for transformations you may see things that make you anxious because it looks like a ton of work and a ton of money.
If you are able to do these types of transformations, GO FOR IT! But if you want to make it a little simpler, I am here to give you a few tips!
Side note: If you can do one HUGE transformation a year and then make the rest simple, that works too!
Transformation Tip 1: Ask your students for ideas
Have your students brainstorm things that they love. Your transformation will go over better if it something that appeals to your group of kids.
For example, this year I am doing a dinosaur week because my kids expressed their love for dinosaurs. I am also doing a construction week because many of my kids have parents that work construction.
Transformation Tip 2: Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Pinterest
Pinterest is a GREAT tool, don’t get me wrong, but it can be overwhelming and it can block your own creative energy.
At the bottom of this post, I have a three-day transformation plan mapped out for you and one thing it makes you do is only search on Pinterest for 5 minutes. I actually make you set a timer!
Those five minutes you can see quick ideas but you don’t get overwhelmed or bogged down with other peoples ideas.
You are creative and capable of creating magic!!
Although I love stealing other teacher’s ideas, sometimes if you spend too much time looking at it you start the comparing game and get caught up in what you are not able to do instead of what you can do.
Transformation Tip 3: A Little Can Go A Long Way
You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to make your room look like a literal hospital.
If you can and want to do that then GO FOR IT! But you don’t have to.
I can tell you from experience that your students will be just as engaged and excited if you just switch up the learning environment a little bit.
All you have to do is add some things that are out of the norm.
For example, in my surgery transformation, I used paper from my school to cover the tables and draw patient on them (ALL FREE).
Then, I printed off X-Rays from my surgery pack (You can find these here) and put them all over the room.
I wore scrubs and bought my kiddos inexpensive masks off of Amazon.
That was it. It total took me 10 minutes to set up and I spent 10 dollars.
And guess what?! My kids STILL talk about how much fun they had! Also, I have never seen them more engaged in reading high-level passages (head to this blog post to read about this transformation).
Transformation Tip 4: Ask for Help
In my three day plan, I give you a fill in the blank letter to parents in your class, Facebook status, and email template for community members.
It can take you two minutes to ask for donations and I bet you’d be surprised how many people step up to help.
In my recent construction transformation, I sent a letter to parents to see if anyone had old PVC pipes or blocks to add to our learning. I got tons of donations and we used them for building all week (the building was attached to learning obviously!).
I also contacted the local construction business in our town. Guess what?! They donated hats and vests for the entire class! They also let us borrow construction signs and cones to add to the learning! They even had a construction worker come in and talk to the kids! It was amazing and so engaging for my students! I didn’t expect all of that, but one simple task and my engagement skyrocketed (Shout out to Lake Erie Custom Construction).
The last thing I did was use my social media to ask people in my community if they’d be willing to donate anything. I got caution tape and more blocks for FREE!
Y’all, I spent zero dollars on this amazing transformation and it took me three minutes to copy and paste the emails!
Transformation Tip 5: Use Your Resources
The printer is a magical thing. You can print off clip art that can easily transform a space.
In all of my transformation packs, I try to provide easy things that you can print and add to your space!
You can also use the craft paper your school provides. Throwing a little thing like that on the tables can work wonders.
For camping week, I bring my own camping chairs and tent in. Completely free each time.
Every transformation I go to the library and rent out as many FREE books as I can to engage my students.
Use the resources that you already have to engage your kiddos!
I have a STEP BY STEP three day plan that will walk you through planning a transformation with ten minutes a day for three days! It gives you an exact outline on how to make the transformation SIMPLE, CHEAP, RIGOROUS, and ENGAGING!