For several years, I had been wanting to change up the furnishings in my classroom. I kept seeing these cool “cafe/coffee shop” rooms that seemed to be a much nicer environment to learn in, never mind the hours I spend in my room as well. So I started collecting pieces from parent donations, garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, and my parents’ houses.
Last year, my principal was extremely gracious, and when we moved buildings, he gave me one of the biggest classrooms because he wanted to support my implementation of flexible seating. I was over the moon to move out of a portable and into an actual building. When he gave me my new room, I was about to burst with joy.
If you have ever moved into a new house, you know that you have to live in the space for a while before you can arrange the furniture in the most user-friendly way. Last year I must have rearranged the furniture 57 times, and I still feel that there are times when I simply need to move furniture to better fit that day’s activities. I brought in ambient lighting, wood furniture, and natural light (through my new windows) to help further create a less institutional environment for me and my students.
About mid-October, I ran across an article that introduced me to the Danish concept of hygge and how it lends itself to creating a better classroom environment. It’s pronounced HUE-gah, and the Oxford Dictionary defines hygge as “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”. The article went on to say that the Danish people have long, dark, rainy winters, and they use their furnishings and decorations to bring warmth and light into their spaces. They employ lamps, fire, windows, wood furnishings, and plants to bring the outdoors in when they can’t go outside to enjoy nature. These natural elements help keep them from getting cabin fever when they are stuck inside. If you want to know more about adding hygge to your life, visit this article. You can also just Google “what is hygge” and find plenty of information.
After I read a couple of articles about hygge I thought- Hey! That’s what I’m trying to do! And I finally had a name for the goal atmosphere I’m trying to create.
Pictures of my room from this past year
In addition to my excitement about creating a more student-friendly classroom, I have a SERIOUS addiction to/obsession with Harry Potter. I realized that I could marry the two and come up with something akin to the Ravenclaw common room if I worked hard enough. I began adding HP elements like a flying keys mobile, Hogwarts and Ravenclaw banners, Snape quotes, Dumbledore quotes, and Cornish pixie silhouettes in the lamps as an extra-special touch. I also used YouTube to find different ambience loops that included a fireplace and elements of Harry Potter. You can find a couple of those here and here.
This year there will be an owlery, a brick feature somewhere, Harry Potter product vignettes (think Chocolate Frogs, Amortentia, and Puking Pastils), a Tri-Wizard Cup, and more ambient lighting/less or no fluorescent. Oh, and I need some plants. That’s one element of hygge that I haven’t added yet.
Basically, it will be my ultimate happy place. 🙂 Wouldn’t the Danes be proud?