This post is part of my Setting Up Your Classroom Series. Click here to view more posts from the series.
The great thing about a "cozy reading nook" is that you don't actually need to add them to your classroom. The kids will find and create them all by themselves. Give a student a book and tell them to read where they want and you'll find them under tables, behind your desk, and in any other tiny nook or cranny that is available. However, if administration walks in and finds children lying on the counter they won't care that it is in the name of reading so you'll want some guidelines. Here's what I do:
Baxter the Bear
Baxter is a huge stuffed bear that was given to my cousin by a former boyfriend. As part of the break-up process, he came to live with me and has resided in my classroom ever since. To say the kids love him is an understatement. He is the favorite spot to sit in the entire room. Our fifth grade classes do a writing project each year about something they'll remember from elementary school and take a picture to go with it. Baxter is very popular that week. And they do remember him. Junior High friends often come back and stop in to say hi to Baxter. So if you can get your hands on something big and fuzzy then I recommend it.
Here's Baxter hanging in my group area the year I did my Western Theme.
I have a bunch of pillows that line the wall. I change out the pillowcases to go with my themes and I like that I can take them home to wash them. The students take the pillows and find a place to sit or lay with them when they are reading. Oh, look there's Baxter again. This time he's ready for the beach.
TOWELS / BLANKETS
You'll also notice in the picture above that there is a striped towel. This kids loved to spread this out and read on it. Honestly, it's not any more comfortable than the hard floor by itself, but in their minds it's cozy.
The sleeping bags below offered the same opportunity. The kids would spread them out and read on top of them (not going in them was one of the rules).
TENTS / FORTS / ETC
These are a kid-favorite, but you'll want to gage your classroom climate to see if it works for you. My guidelines were that only one friend could be in it at one time and the flap needed to remain open. My teacher table was set up so that I could see inside.
See those coolers? I brought them in to go with my camping theme. They were used for class meeting as seats. The kids also enjoyed sitting on them during reading time. Again, not my idea of comfort, but proves the fact that kids will find spots they enjoy reading in.
OTHER THINGS TO ADD
To determine the reading spots in your classroom:
- Work as a class to brainstorm a list of possible "reading nooks."
- Provide the students with guidelines (need to be seen, can't disturb others, can not be on top of furniture, etc) and narrow down the list.
- Create a "seating chart" or rotation schedule so that kids are not rushing to claim a specific spot.
Oh-s0-cozy! The teacher from this classroom writes:
Cozy Reading Center. Our library books are currently being sorted by genre, organized in labeled bins - complete with color coded stickers. Kids will learn to choose books from different genres and to put them back in the correct bin this year!
As someone who strives to make teachers "clutter-free," I can't advocate adding a bathtub to the classroom, but I bet the kids would love, love, love it!
For more ideas and pictures to help organize and manage your classroom, please check out my book: The Clutter-Free Guide to Classroom Organization and Management by clicking here.