Sunday, July 25, 2010

Living Colour

About Colour

First, yes, I am Canadian, so I spell colour with a u in it. Second, when it comes to my classroom vision, I don't believe in colour for colour's sake. Third, I am really inconsistent in that last statement.

I have not terribly conscious of my classroom decor in the past. Furniture arrangement I strategized a good deal but not decor too much. And when I did it wasn't very good. One year I tried to create different zones on my bulletin boards. Red was for math. Yellow was for language arts. Green for science. I think I may even have tried to match my duotangs colours with my bulletin board colours. It turned out to be bad for a number of reasons. I'm not disciplined enough to change my bulletin boards very often so the colours became pretty arbitrary especially when art would span over 3 or more coloured subject zones. There was too much colour. First there were the many multicoloured zones and then there were multicoloured borders then there were the multicoloured posters and the multicoloured pictures I put up. It was pretty much a multicoloured mess. Don't even mention the multistained carpet.

In my district they are really rethinking kindergarten and ones of the things we
are really paying attention to is decor and colour. My district wants a more organic and more flexible approach to classroom decor. Of course I could not be happier about this because that is exactly what I'm going for in my own classroom. The downside is that I don't teach kindergarten so I don't have access to the great furniture they are ordering for the new k classrooms. Check it out at
One message my district is giving is Back off on colour! And I get that. I have in the past bombarded kids with colour. It can be sensory overload. Remember that this whole project began when I saw the effect that subdued lighting and an inviting ambience had on my staff (they hung out a lot and didn't go home). Kids are probably more attacked by stimulation and yet we throw more at them regardless. I definitely found that my students seemed a little more subdued after the changes. The amount they could read independently definitely lengthened noticeably.

This year I greatly reduced colour overall. I got rid of borders, banners, posters, and even student work that was not framed. I also got rid of the 3 different shades of blue desks. I brought in the neutral or organic tone risers and area rug. I filtered the light through some white mesh. I did have some accent splashes of colour here and there: some jewel tone curtains, a large hanging of a kimono, the beaded door curtain, and some cool blue or white led lights. The only real mistake I made in terms of colour was the huge blue feature wall with the squashed sheep/cloud finish.

I learned my lesson. When it comes to colour, less is more. And I do faux finishes as well as I can do a triple back flip. Leave it to the professionals.

Written (badly) on my iPod.

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