Monday, August 13, 2012

Classroom Ambiance

Several years ago I worked in an extremely low income school.  I taught three inclusion classes and one accelerated class each day.  It was during this, my second year of teaching, that I discovered gifted kids and kids with special needs often behave and learn the same way.

We always had our grade-level meetings in a very wise teacher's classroom.  I always enjoyed being in her classroom.  I felt calm when I was in her room, as it had an almost homey feeling.  The fluorescent lights were always off and she had no less than 8 lamps spread throughout her classroom.  One day I asked her what had prompted her to start using lamps.  She explained that just like I felt calm and at ease in her classroom, young students felt the same.  The lamps have a calming effect, making all students more at ease, while helping those with hyperactivity and attention issues to calm down and focus.

I immediately went out and purchased Chinese paper lanterns with light switches.  The lamp kits are made specifically for use in paper lanterns.  I can honestly say that I noticed an immediate difference in my students.

I always want students to enjoy coming to my room, and while they think the lamps are just a cool addition to the room, they are really a management tool.  I had a teacher on my hall come in today during planning and remark on how comfortable my room was.  I owe it all to the lights.

I have 7 Chinese lanterns spread throughout my room and a lamp on my desk.  I have changed my lantern colors a few times to match my decor, but this year I am using a mixture of all of the ones that I have.  I'm using hot pink, turquoise and black/white zebra print.  I purchased the pink lanterns at Big Lots, the turquoise at Lowe's, and the zebra at World Market.  Pier One and Ikea also carry a nice selection of paper lanterns.  The biggest thing you want to make sure of is that your lantern is made to accommodate a light bulb, and it's not just one to hang for decoration.  Many of the lanterns come with the light kit and can be found for around $7.  Pier One has their lanterns on clearance right now for about $4 each.

Lighting can make all of the difference in a classroom, which is why my lanterns are the first decorative item to go up in my classroom each year.

**Please excuse the blank bulletin board and lack of decorations.  This pics were made a few days before school started.  :-)


  1. I've always used lamps in my classroom, and you're right--makes such a difference! The past two years, though, I've been fortunate to have a huge classroom with windows all along one wall, so I never have to turn on the flourescent lights.

  2. I was amazed at the difference it made in the classroom. I have one small window now, so they're a necessity!

  3. How do you get the paper lanterns past the Fire Marshal? I love them and I do have a few I bought over the years but never used.

    Also, I love treasure hunting at Goodwill and Salvation Army and other 2nd hand stores. I think I am going to go treasure hunting for some lamps. I know a trusty can of spray paint and change anything into a matching decor. Thanks for the ideas on the lighting.

  4. Frugal Mama, our Fire Marshal has never said anything about them. People all over our county use different styles of lights from the ceiling. I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but the ones I use are made to have a light bulb. They come with their own light kits with the electrical cord. I also have each one plugged in to its own outlet - no extension cords or 6-way splitters.

    I too love Goodwill and Salvation Army for makeover items!! Spray paint has become a trust friend this past year!

  5. How do you attach them. Are their outlets in the ceiling?