Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spaces, Places, and Word Walls

Happy Sunday everyone!

I can't believe it is already Sunday night and that tomorrow is Monday!  I feel like last week went both slow and fast.  On one hand it feels like last weekend was AGES ago, but on the other hand, it doesn't feel like it's time for a new week yet.

I had a nice weekend.  Josh came up and we spent a lot of time chilling and watching TV because he wasn't feeling well, but it was still good to be with him.  Even though he was pretty worn out, he was super nice and tried to help me be productive.  I was able to organize a massive pile of Christmas gifts and random things that had been taking up precious floor space for far too long.  I also did laundry, treated my brand new leather boots with Leather Honey, and graded a huge stack of homework that I let build up all week.  That was bad of me and I hope to not do it again :-0

Unfortunately, I was not able to be productive in my various shopping excursions.  My goal for the weekend was to go to Walmart to get some new fabric to use to re-cover one of my bulletin boards.  Since, I reorganized my classroom, I am planning to move my word wall from the middle of a cinder block wall to a spacious bulletin board that used to be trapped behind my teacher desk.

The board currently has bright orange fabric on it.  I love bright colors and went hog wild with them when I set up my room last year.  However, after doing some research and reading Debbie Diller's awesome book Spaces and Places on the recommendation of my mentor last year, I realized that bright colors may not always be the best. :-(

Debbie Diller suggests that it is better to use one or two calming colors like blue and green for bulletin boards.  Too many bright colors over-stimulate children.  She also encourages the limited use of posters and anchor charts because too many become like "wall paper" and are not effective.

These ideas went against my "if it's colorful and cute, it must be good" mentality, but I do see the truth in them.  As a result, I have been trying to be more judicious with my use of colors and posters.  However, two of my boards are still red and orange.  Thus, why I wanted to go to Wal-Mart to get some nice blue and green.

Last year, my Walmart trip was a cinch.  I picked up several pre-packaged 5 yard fabric packs in different colors and was good to go.  I expected to find and buy the same packs this weekend.

My mission was not accomplished.  The Walmart I went to was not a Walmart Supercenter.  As a result, it had a very limited fabric section with only rolls that needed to be cut or TINY squares that would have covered .03948% of my board.  Not good.

After spending over half an hour frustrating Josh by trying to demonstrate the measurements of my board using floor tiles and my own arms and legs (I forgot to measure), we decided that there was not enough of the ONE good option of blue fabric.  Plus, there was no one there to cut it, so we gave up and decided that we would go to Michael's as Plan B.

Guess what...we FAILED there too!

Apparently, Michael's does NOT sell ANY fabric at all!!!  Shocking!!

Why don't they sell it?  Why?!?!  Shouldn't they want to be a direct competitor to Jo'Ann's?

Anyways, after failing there, we were both annoyed and bummed.  We Googled fabric stores and discovered that there are NONE in my area.  The closest Jo'Ann's is about 40 minutes away!

Plan C is now to have my mom go to the good Walmart in Ohio where I originally got the fabric.  If she finds it, then she will mail it to me.  I am sad because I wanted to switch over my word wall tomorrow, so I could post pictures of the full transformation later this week.  Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait.

The delay will give me more time to figure out how I want to set the board up.  I have seen so many different styles of word walls online and in other people's rooms; some are great and some seem a bit disorganized or cluttered to me, so I am still deciding exactly what I want to do.  My goal is for my word wall to be aesthetically pleasing, functional, and organized.

I particularly like the idea of using string or tape to divide it into sections.  Apparently, that helps children organize the words in their minds.

Here are some examples of boards I like:
From Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten
From Tales from Outside the Classroom
I also like the idea of having the words being detachable  so students can take them down and use them at their seats or for word work.  One of my colleagues uses push pins to do this, but I am scared the kids will poke each other's eyes out!

Do any of you have good ideas for how to set up and use word walls?  What about how to attach the words?

I would love some tips and advice.  If you blogged about your word wall and have pictures, please send me the link.  



  1. My word wall is actually on my whiteboard. All of my words have magnets on the back of them, so it's completely interactive. It's sectioned off with black electric tape. I've done it like this for a few years now and it works well. I guess if you have limited board space, then it's not the greatest idea.=) Debbie Diller books are awesome. I absolutely love her Math Workstations book. Check it out if you haven't gotten a chance! Thanks so much for stopping by our blog!! =)
    Sister Teachers

    1. Thanks for the ideas and the book recommendation. Having the words on magnets sounds cool.

      Thanks for following me and commenting!


  2. The fabric on all my bulletin boards is royal blue. It is still a bright color, but not too over the top. As for over-decorating, I probably do have too many things hanging on the walls, but my kids seem to enjoy having and using them. Maybe they're just used to me overdoing pretty much everything. LOL! Good luck figuring out exactly what you want for your word wall. In the end, you just have to do what's best for you and your kiddos. Sometimes, experts, books, and outside advice just don't quite fit with what you know about your kids in your heart.

    The Lightbulb Lab

    1. Thanks for the good advice. I like your point about making sure what I do works for me and my kids. I tend to get overwhelmed and want to try all the good ideas out there, but sometimes they aren't what's best for my class.

      I am sure your classroom is great! It's good that your students know how to use everything on the walls cause that's why it's there!

      Thanks for commenting!