Every Great Room Needs a Grand Entrance
From the moment students enter the room, they need to feel the ambiance of India and this must reflect first in the doorway. You have two really great options.
The first one is a beaded door curtain. Place this on the side of the door opposite from where the door opens. Choose really rich colors in either jewel tones or earth tones. The students will get the feel for the rich tastes in color of India when they look through the beaded curtain. Next they will receive a tactile sensation, as they walk through, that will wake them up and have them ready to engage in learning once inside.
Option number two is to create a wooden or cardboard copy of the India gate. This is massive and solid, giving the feeling of wealth and stability. This can give the students a feeling of royalty as they enter the room. It also can spark that 'awe' sensation in the mind, setting the mind in motion for learning.
If you go with the Indian gate, think about placing spotlights on each side, shining upwards in a bright color so it will show up. You can try white, but with the lights of the hallway, they most likely will not make a difference. You also could line the outline of it with Christmas lights in either an extra bright white or yellow, red, blue or green.
Now that you have totally captured the attention of your students by your grand entrance, it's time to move to the interior of the classroom.
Make the Interior Come Alive
To pull off the look of India in your classroom, you need dramatic color. One of the best ways to achieve this is with tulle. Purchase it in vibrant colors of red, orange, blue, green, gold, brown, and more. You will need to be able to think outside the box to achieve this look.
Start by attaching one end of a bolt of tulle to the ceiling in a corner, then drape the fabric down and then back up to the middle point. Continue with different colors, from each corner and then gradually fill in as much or as little as you wish to, forming a canopy overhead. At a minimum, have all four corners tufted with fabric, swagger down and cinched back up in the middle. You can also attach light weight objects with string or wire to the frame without damaging anything. Keep the swags high enough that the tallest student can't reach them easily.
The reason you need to use tulle, is because of the lighting issue. The light can effectively stream through this see-through material, yet still cast a slight shadow of light in the color of the fabric. If you leave the rest of the ceiling open, then the bright lighting will be able to come down to the students. If you wish to totally fill the ceiling in, It would be awesome, and dramatic. You can supplement extra lighting with lamps.
Next, you need to think about the floor. Think about opening up the center of the room to an open floor space. Place all the tables or desks around the room facing the center, but along the walls.
In the middle of the room place a rug that makes you think of India. If you have a rug from India, this would be perfect.
Most Indian rugs are brightly colored, but some are more neutral as well. Whatever you can find that would make you and your students get the feeling of India would be perfect. You can also use many rugs to make a completely covered central carpet in the room.
Now it is time to place some pillows if possible. This will totally bring the students into the feeling of being in India. During the lecture part of the lessons, your students could sit on the carpets either on pillows or inside a circle of pillows you place on the floor.
With the ceiling and floors feeling more and more like India, now it is time for accessories.
Accessorizing Your Classroom
Accessorizing the classroom to create an Indian feel is fairly simple. You just need to gather some supplies.
Ideas for supplies to gather:
- Map of India.
- Side tables for displays.
- Table cloths for the side tables (your choice of colors; think beaded or silk like material).
- Spices of India, for a display.
- Loose tea, and paraphernalia for making this type of tea, such as teapot, tea ball, etc.
- Posters to entice the children to want to travel abroad to India.
- Jewelry from India.
- Clothing of different types.
- Pictures of people in India, such as a wedding party in traditional garb with comparison pictures of modern-day Indians.
- An Indian Flag.
- Beaded artworks from India.
- Stuffed or plastic animals like Indian elephants, to reflect the types of animals that are prevalent there, for a display table.
- White twinkie lights to illuminate dark places or to put under or over the tulle fabric.
- Lamps if needed. (Never place candles in a classroom, as this is a fire hazard and will set of the smoke alarms and sprinkler systems.)
The tables are for setting in learning centers or corners around the room. This gives the students inspiration and will help them imagine that they are in India as they learn about this very interesting place.
You can set these up for all time or begin with one at a time and continue as your lessons cover the subjects. These displays can be as elaborate or simple as you desire them to be. If you wish to focus just on one item, be sure to make it look lush with beautiful fabrics scrunched on the table around the object. The Indians love their textiles, and love richness in color.
They also love a lot of prints and designs all put together. They will soften that with a few solids mixed in. Adorned fabrics are also popular. So, anytime you can add a beaded satin or silk like fabric to the mix, you will have the look and feel of India in your classroom.
These hands-on and visual looks offer a full experience each student will carry with them for the rest of their lives. You can be proud that you cared enough to decorate your classroom to look like India. How boring and sterile the learning experience would be otherwise!
Source: Authors own ideas
Picture #1 India Gate at night- Wikimedia Commons- Public Domain
Picture #2 Beaded square-Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain
Picture #3 Map of India-Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain
Picture #4 Flag of India-Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain