In case you’ve never heard of hygge (pronounced hue-gah), according to Google dictionary it is the quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture). My understanding is that, during the long, dark, Danish winters, they practice hygge as a way to bring light, nature, and warmth into their indoor space since they can’t spend much time outside. It’s also a welcoming atmosphere for friends and family that might take time out to visit.
How does this translate to the classroom?
I live in Texas, so I don’t typically get cabin fever from being cooped up indoors for the long winter. However, our classrooms can have a cold, institutional feel to them that makes hygge the perfect way to warm them up. I’ve always wanted my classroom to be a bit different. I’ll admit, I’m competitive, so I want people to be wowed when they walk into my room. This means that I spent a lot of time thinking about what to put into my room, and what I wanted to be able to take out.
Now, let’s be clear, on a teacher’s salary your classroom probably isn’t going to look like the Taj Mahal or anything, but just a few little additions can make a huge difference. We are going to spend some time bringing hygge into the classroom.
Day One- Add some light!
Adding ambient light to your space will change the way it feels instantly. Fluorescent and LED lights are cold. Lamps, windows, and candles bring in warm light. Now I don’t know about you, but if I got caught burning candles in my room, I’d be in serious trouble. Plus, I teach middle and high school, so having an open flame around those guys is just asking for it.
Nowadays, there are such a variety of fairy lights, electric candles, and other ways to bring in light that we don’t have to actually burn anything. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so I added a little something extra to my lamps: Cornish Pixies!
Day Two: Add some nature!
By bringing in a piece of wooden furniture, a plant, an animal, or some firelight, you instantly bring the outdoors in. There are many ways to achieve this, but here are a few ideas from my room:
Go on YouTube to find ambient sounds in different venues. In keeping with my Harry Potter theme, I use rooms from Hogwarts like the Ravenclaw Common Room above.
My closet doors were begging for a makeover, but since I can’t paint them or drill holes in them, I hot glued glitter poster board that I cut into hinges.
Day Three: Find a cozy spot
Do you have a comfy place to sit in your room? Maybe you have an awesome desk chair or a stool. Whatever it is, make yourself a comfy spot in your room. Put a lamp there or a picture of someone or something you love.
Here are my comfy spots:
Day Four: Add some warmth
There are many ways to add warmth to your room. Maybe a reed diffuser with a nice warm smell like cinnamon or vanilla. You could add brick paper to your white walls. Rugs for the tile floor add warmth as well. Here are a few of my warm touches.
Day 5: Add some friends!
The Danes include friends as one of the warm elements to include in your hygge environment. Last year, I started having coffee in my room every Friday. I had a coffee pot, and our school has carafes that will keep it hot, so every Friday morning when I get to school, I brew a couple of pots of coffee and the other teachers come in to get a cup of joe before they start their day. It’s been great for fellowship with people that are in different parts of the building and don’t necessarily see each other every day. I turn my dad’s buffet into a coffee bar for the day, and I have creamer, sugar, Splenda, etc. There is a Coffee Fund jar, and sometimes people will drop a dollar or two in there to go toward more coffee.
Post your Hygge Triumphs
Whether you decide to do something for one of the challenge days, or for all 5, post your classroom photos of before and after your hygge additions. I’d love to hear about your experience with hygge!