Saturday, September 28, 2019

African Grasslands Room Transformation and Activities

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African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique
African Grasslands Room Transformation!

I did my first room transformation last week! I know room transformations have been around for a while, but when I taught Pre-K I had students with special needs who would not have been able to handle a room transformation well. Now that I am in first grade, I'm getting to explore new teaching methods, and this one was a winner!

We have been studying how animals adapt to their environments. Since I already had my mind on all things safari after creating my STEM Safari system, I decided to transform my room into the African grasslands!

African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique

It seemed like such a fun theme...until I realized how hard it was to decorate based on a place known for its abundance of grass and few sparse trees. When I searched for ideas, everything that came up had vines and jungle vibes. The teacher in me was a little surprised that so many decor packs designed for birthday parties and the like depicted lions and zebras in a rainforest-esque environment. When I went on safari in South Africa a few years ago, I was amazed to see how similar the grasslands looked to my native Midwestern United States--not at all tropical. Since the entire purpose of this room transformation was to depict the actual environment to which the animals have adapted, I couldn't use any of the pre-made decor packs that made it appear as though these animals lived in the jungle or rainforest.

The best solution I came up with was hanging green streamers vertically on the walls. I also put green butcher paper on my tables, and had envisioned hanging green streamers vertically off the edges of them. Long story short, I unexpectedly ended up having my one-year-old at school with me while I set up, so the streamers hanging off of tables didn't actually materialize for me. :)

African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique
I found this backdrop which added to the look quite a bit.

African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique

I cut grass out of green butcher paper and attached it to my door. My husband had the great idea of adding some animal tails sticking out of it--it was easy and didn't require too much artistic ability, but really completed the look! This would also look cool on walls around the classroom!

African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique

I hung a banner outside my door and put footprints in the hallway leading to my room.

I couldn't get over the idea of how adorable it would be to have my students wear safari hats, so I found some here, and set them on their tables.

In the morning, I dressed in khakis and an oversized button-down shirt. I played safari sounds in the background to help set the scene (this video was perfect!) and projected a picture of a baobab tree on the SmartBoard. When I greeted my children, I acted the part of a safari guide, saying, "Welcome to the African grasslands! Come join me on safari!" I got weird looks from the first few, as they asked, "What's going on...?" but then their eyes widened as they stepped into the classroom. They were thrilled!

I had themed lessons planned for the entire day. I began by reading aloud Here is the African Savanna by Madeleine Dunphy.

African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique

We did a write the room activity with spelling words, some color by code addition sheets, an animal adaptations presentation and booklet, a STEM challenge, and more. It was certainly a memorable day, and the kids hardly realized they were learning. I heard lots of "best day ever!" comments throughout the day.

African Grasslands Room Transformation | Apples to Applique

You can find all of the printables for the room transformation here!

This set includes:
  • Printables, instructions, and resource suggestions for transforming your room
  • Science activity: Animal adaptations presentation and booklet
  • Social Studies: My region and Grasslands compare/contrast with Venn diagram
  • STEM challenge
  • EDITABLE spelling word write the room activity
  • Writing assignment
  • Math activity: color-by-code addition worksheets in 3 different levels
I hope you love doing this grasslands room transformation; I know your students will!

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