Themes… Going BIG!

I L-O-V-E teaching and decorating my classroom with themes. It started back in in the “Whole Language” era (yeah, I am that old!) but came back to life for me during my years in the library.

Cock-a-doodle-doo!  Barnyard HullabalooA dear friend offered his talent and expertise to help me create my visions using insulation styrofoam sheets to create 2-D and 3-D characters, props, and decor.  Over the years we perfected the technique… so I thought I would share how we do it, and what I did this year in my 2nd grade room.

Moving back to the classroom, I couldn’t stand the thought of NOT having a theme… so I settled on a FARM theme based on the book Cock-doodle-doo!- Barnyard Hullabaloo by Andreae. The Andreae books are my FAVORITES!

Here is a pic of my library area I made, this time with the help of my hubby:

I am heartbroken because my 4′ Mama Pig’s pic is lost on a flash drive somewhere.  She is cute! You CAN see from the pic that the pillows are cow and bandana print, and my big cow and the owl are sitting on the chalkboard railing. There are also little bales of hay and apple crates holding books. Oh… and you can see the little COW goody bags I made for the kiddos.  Painted little spots on the bags… added some bandana tissue, and a little jute bow. I loved it… The kids loved it.  Happy place.

We start with large 4′ x 8′ sheets of insulation (1″ thick for most things) from Home Depot.  They are around $9 for the big sheets.  You can get smaller sheets too, and they are priced accordingly.

Next, peel off the plastic coating on BOTH sides.  If you leave it on one side, the foam will curl.

Next, draw or trace your design.  My buddy Don likes to use a yellow marker to trace/draw. Most paint will cover it, and it doesn’t leave grooves in the foam.  :-)

When we first started making these props, Don would use a hacksaw blade… like these:

He has a certain flair for it… but it makes a LOT of “snow”… if you get what I mean.  You definitely will need a serrated blade of some sort, and with this type of tool, you need to saw the styrofoam.

THEN… we found this @ a craft store!  Skies parted, and a new wave of creativity opened up!  Behold… the handy, dandy styrofoam cutter @ Hobby Lobby.  The “wand” heats up and you slice through the foam like butter…  AND very little snow.

It also allows for a lot more detailed cutting.  If I remember correctly, it cost me around $12… I used a coupon!  JOY!

Then we paint!  I prefer AMERICANA paints. They come in little 2 oz bottles, and they seem to cover the foam usually in one coat.  When we are making something big, and need a lot of the same color, I will buy a quart or gallon of latex paint and roll it on.  Here is Mama Pig and babies… just not at school. She is on vacation, too!! I had her up on top of my cubbies as part of a cute farm bulletin board, but again…. can’t find the pics…. grrrrr!

This year I am doing a SPACE theme… and using alien props we made a few years ago.  I will post some pics when I get everything up.  :-)

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