Since the beach is one of my favorite places in the world, it’s only natural that I chose it as one of my classroom themes! It’s my happy place and since I want my classroom to also be a happy place, it makes sense that I do a lot of beach decor. Because if I’m happy then my students are happy too 🙂
Today I’m sharing some of my favorite beach theme classroom ideas as well as some fun activities for the first days of school. (If the beach is not your thing, you may want to check out my other favorite theme – DOGS here).
Student Welcome Letter
We usually get our new class list right after the Fourth of July, so one of the first things I prepare for my new students is a welcome letter.
I still send them in the mail even though email is easier and faster. I feel that students still get excited about receiving something special through the mail and it lets me send them their name tag to wear on the first day of school.
I have found that my young students LOVE receiving these letters each year. It helps them get excited about school and it also helps ease some of those first day jitters.
Here is an example of one I send for our beach theme:
Open House & First Day Treats / Awards
Another thing that I’ve found which eases first day or meet the teacher jitters is giving students a little treat bag either on the first day of school and / or at Open House/Meet the Teacher Night.
I make simple treats for Open House by placing some Goldfish crackers or Swedish Fish in plastic baggies and attaching a gift tag that says “Welcome! You are “o-fish-ally” a kindergartner!”.
For the first day of school, I fill beach buckets from the Dollar Store with supplies & a few treats and set them on students’ desks.
I also like to end our first day on a positive note, so I give students these fun first day awards.
I also use similar awards throughout the year.
Name Plates & Name Tags
In addition to sending name tags to students that they can wear, I also make name tags for their cubbies. It’s important for young students to understand that they have a special place for their belongings and it also helps them recognize/learn their names.
I place longer name plates on student desks. These name plates have an alphabet line, a number line, and left & right labels that students can use for quick reference throughout the year.and they also help them both recognize their names and learn how to write/spell their names.
I also put longer name plates outside our classroom above their coat hooks. These do not have the alphabet & number lines.
Welcome Display & Banners
I like having a welcome display on my door that features students’ names because it not only creates a nice classroom environment but also makes students feel they belong. I also hang some welcome banners (one outside in the hall and one inside the classroom).
Classroom Labels & Word Wall
It is important during the early stages of a child’s development to have literacy or language all around them; therefore, I label as many things as possible with beach themed labels such as materials, classroom centers, group areas, etc. and utilize a word wall.
Star Student of the Week
I love doing a star student of the week display because it helps me to get to know and understand my students better and it also helps my students get to know each other.
A different student is featured each week. I send home a letter and ask parents to help their child fill out the form and to send in some photos. When students see themselves featured along with photos of themselves in the classroom, it helps them to understand that this is their community and they are a valued member of it.
The star student’s answers are displayed along with any photos and each day they get to talk about one of them.
Students need to learn from the very first week how to be responsible members of the classroom community. A great way to do this is to give them classroom jobs. I like to make my classroom helpers display visual so that students can see what is expected of them, what they are supposed to do, and their name associated with the job or task.
Alphabet & Number Posters
Alphabet and number posters have been an important part of my classroom for as long as I can remember and I recently started creating them so that they could coordinate with my classroom theme.
Colors & Shapes Posters
I also create posters for colors and shapes as well. I hang larger ones on the wall and then print smaller ones to use for group work and centers.
First Day of School Activities
Sand Play Dough
A good thing to have on hand to help young students work out those first day jitters is play dough. I make a batch of sand play dough to go with the beach theme. It is easy to make and students love it!
To make sand play dough simply mix together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of warm water, 1 Tbsp oil, and 1 cup of sand. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add more oil and water. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
Place a small amount on students’ desks or place it in a center along with some sea shells or beach toys.
Go Fish Getting to Know You
Students love this fishing activity! They use a fishing rod with a magnet as bait to catch a fish with a name on it.
When they catch a fish, we read the name on the fish and have that student say something about themselves or answer a question about themselves.
Beach Blanket BINGO
This is a fun way for me and my students to learn names! I show a BINGO card with students’ pictures on it and then pull a name out of a sand bucket. That student stands up and then we mark off their picture. You can also play with student names and give each student their own bingo card. When all the spaces on the card are marked it’s a bingo.
Buckets of Fun Student Made Bulletin Board
I love having student-made bulletin boards in my classroom because hanging their art and class work conveys to students that it is valued and important. We create this display on the first day. Students decorate a shovel and bucket, then draw something that they want to learn on the bucket. They then glue real sand in the bucket.
We Get Along Swimmingly Sharing Activity & Display
One of my favorite books to read at the beginning of the school year is The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. Since young students can sometimes have a hard time sharing, I do this fun sharing activity after reading and discussing the book and then make a classroom display from their projects as a reminder of what we learned.