How to Hygge your Classroom

hygge classroom chalkboard and blanket

The Hygge Classroom

I recently read The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. Denmark is often considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world, with many Danes enjoying high levels of happiness, well-being and quality of life. Could hygge be the reason why? Is hygge something that we can bring to the classroom?

Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), taken from the Norwegian word meaning ‘well-being’, is a feeling of cosiness, contentment and togetherness created by taking pleasure in the simple things of life. This could be anything from sipping hot chocolate from your favourite mug on a cold winter night to wrapping up with a chunky scarf and taking a walk in the woods or having your friends over for an evening of board games.

As well as creating a warm, cosy atmosphere, hygge also emphasises the importance of togetherness and community. These are two things that I am always aiming to create in my classroom. Read on for my top tips for bringing hygge into the classroom.

 

hygge classroom fairy lightsPut up some Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are perfect for creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. Hang them across walls, ceilings or around bulletin to boards.

 

LED candles

Use Electronic LED candles

Candles are one of the key elements to create that Hygge atmosphere, but flames are an absolute no-no in the classroom. However, electric LED candles are flame free and perfect for creating that cosy environment safely and they even flicker like a real candle! During story time, turn down the classroom lights, switch on the LED candles and enjoy a good book together.

 

hygge classroom book corner
Create a Cosy Book Corner

A cosy reading corner or nook is is perfect place for students to enjoy a good book away from the hustle and bustle of the main classroom area. Soft material such as cushions are perfect for helping to creating that hygge feeling.

 

indoor plants
Get Some Indoor Plants

Nature is an important element in Hygge. Bring nature into your classroom for your students with some potted plants. Plants help to ‘soften’ the indoor the environment and studies have shown that plants can reduce stress and help create a feeling of calmness. If you don’t have time to look after them, you can even cheat and use plastic ones!

 

hygge relaxing music
Play Relaxing Music

Soft music can be used to create a calm atmosphere within the classroom. I always find that soft classical music works well. I also enjoy using sounds from nature such as rain or waves breaking on a beach.

 

classroom slippers
Have a Slipper Day

What we wear is important to help us feel relaxed. Swap school shoes for slippers once in a while to help create that relaxed, cosy atmosphere.

How do you create hygge in your classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Five Tips for a Quiet Classroom

A quiet classroom is one of the key elements for successful learning. Certainly there are activities that require more noise than others, but in this post I am focusing on those situations that require focus and concentration from your students. Getting your class to work quietly can be tough but I hope that these ideas will give you some tips for getting your class quiet, focused and learning!

quiet classroom image

1) MODEL MODEL MODEL!

One of my key strategies for a quiet classroom is modelling. It was not until a few years into my teaching career that I came across the concept of modelling, but I am so glad I did! It really works. You may be telling your students over and over to ‘work quietly’ or to use ‘inside voices’, but do they really understand what you mean?

At the beginning of the year, or whenever they need a recap, show your students exactly what you mean. Run through each voice level expectation (silent, whisper, table talk etc) and demonstrate them to your class. Gather your class and tell them that you are going to demonstrate a voice level expectation. Tell them that you are going to show them ‘silent working’, for example. Pretend you are a student, walk to fetch your work, sit down at a student’s place and begin working silently, eyes on the work, not looking around etc. After your demonstration ask your students what you were doing, not just with your voice, but with your whole body, i.e. were you looking around at other children or were your eyes firmly on your work?

After your discussion, ask a volunteer student to demonstrate to the rest of the class. I then usually get a small group to demonstrate before getting the whole class to try it together. Repeat this for however many voice levels you will be using within your classroom to ensure that your students really do know what your expectations are.

2) Play quiet classroom music in the background

Playing quiet classroom music is particularly useful during silent work. I usually play classical music, meditation music or natural sounds, i.e. waves breaking, rain, jungle noises etc. This calms the class and keeps them focused. Try out different types of music with your class and see what works best.

3) Have a quiet classroom noise monitor on each table

Give a student on each group the responsibility of reminding others to stick to the voice level. The noise monitors will enjoy the responsibility and it will put the responsibility back on the children. When I have used this technique in the past, at the end of the day I awarded the table a who had been the quietest by placing a soft toy on that table the next day for extra motivation stick to the voice level!

4) Quiet Critters

When your class are working silently get out the Quiet Critters! These are simply little pom pom type toys/creatures that I place around the room, or on a shelf when my class are working silently. I tell my class that they do not like noise and only come out when they are working silently. If your class start to talk, put them away. Your class will try extra hard to stay silent so they can see the Quiet Critters come out and stay out!

5) Noise Traffic Lights

When your students are working at the voice level expected display a green traffic light symbol. This could simply be a green circle stuck onto black card. This lets the children know that are working at expectation. If they begin to talk/ get too noisy change the green traffic light to an amber one. Give the children one minute to get back to the expected noise level, in which case you change the traffic light back to green. If however, they do not quieten down, change the traffic light to red.

Agree beforehand with the children what the green and red traffic signals mean in terms of consequences and rewards. Red may mean one minute knocked off free time/recess/break time etc. The children could work to stay on green by the end of 10 lessons which could mean an extra 5 minutes of free time/recess/break. This idea could be a lot of work for the teacher in terms of changing traffic light colours but for a particular noisy class it can be great to get them working together for an end goal.

Secret Walker

Today I’d like to share with you a little tip I have picked up from other teachers and used over the years to keep ALL the students in your class quiet when walking in a line. I find it those transitions times such as change over between lesson, walking to another room in the school building, lining up etc when ‘undesired’ behaviors are most likely to occur. So here is a little tip to help students stay focused when walking in a line.
Slide1-1In my class, we have to move to another area of the school several times a day, be it walking to the outside door for recess, walking to the hall for assembly/phys ed/lunch or collecting their belongings at hometime. First I line my students up. You may have a particular order to do this. I use register order for this. Then I tell my students I am going to choose two ‘Secret Walkers’ (I choose one boy and one girl) but I am keeping my choice secret until the end of the activity or lesson. The Secret Walkers have a special mission to walk in absolute silence, to walk and not run, to stay in single file and to not touch anything on display shelves/bulletin boards etc (add whatever your expectations for great line walking is) on their journey along the corridor. I tell them they will receive a reward if they complete the mission successfully. I give house points as our school has house teams, or it could be a raffle ticket, a sticker or whatever your class rewards and incentives are. The great thing is, all students know that it could be them I have picked, so they all try hard to walk perfectly!

I wait until the lesson or activity is over and we have made our return journey back to the classroom. I then announce who the two Secret Walkers are and tell them whether or not they have completed the mission successfully. If they have then I give then a house point but if they talked/ran etc then I tell them that unfortunately they did not complete the mission that time, as I do not want to give a reward and undermine the system if they did not walk as I expected. But you will find that the majority of the time the students are so keen to complete their ‘secret mission’ in case they have been picked that they will all walk in the line following the expectations you have laid out. This little tip has really helped keep all my students quiet and focused when moving to other parts of the school building.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

ClassDojo

Hi everyone,

After reading about the positive impact ClassDojo has had on classroom in so many other teaching blogs, I decided to give it a go this year. In terms of behavior management, it is one of the best things I could have done and the great thing is that it is free! It is really simple to set up, just sign up at http://www.classdojo.com/ and enter your students’ names and they will each be assigned a monster avatar. The students’ avatars will be displayed on screen and you can award ‘positive’ points such as for ‘helping others’ or for being ‘on task’ which add one point to a student’s score, or you can click on ‘needs work’ which deduct a point from a student’s total. You can also customize the ‘positive’ and ‘needs work’ categories to suit your own requirements. I do really only tend to use the positive points though as I find them a great motivator. There are also options for reporting student behaviors to parents, but so far I have just used the system within my own classroom. I have turned ClassDojo into a competition and I give the student who has the most points at the end of the week a small prize such as pencil.hero-about2-2

Here are some of the ways in which I use ClassDojo:

Students’ attention
I have tried all sorts of ways in which to get the students’ attention; chimes, counting down from five, clapping a rhythm etc. These days, when I want the students’ attention, I display ClassDojo on the board and award points to a couple of students who are looking my way and listening. As soon as the other students hear the ‘ping’ they soon follow suit, hoping to earn a point themselves!

Tidying up
You can imagine the scene – you’ve just finished a craft activity and bits of paper are all over desks and under chairs, glue stick lids have rolled onto the floor, equipment needs tidying away… You get the picture! I have found ClassDojo to be a great motivator to encourage the students to tidy up. I give students who are tidying up a point, particularly those students who are helping others. I have found that it really has encouraged team work and has turned what was a ten minute job into a quick two minute task.

Random
My students love this feature! Click on the ‘random’ button and one student’s name will be selected at random. It is a great alternative to hands up during whole class teaching. I also use it when students are completing independent work. Now and again I will click the ‘random’ feature and I will look to see whether the child selected is on task. If they are, then I will award them a point – another great way to keep students motivated as they never know when their name might be selected!

There are many other features to ClassDojo and it is so simple to use and really visual for the students. How do you use ClassDojo in your classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas!