Monday, August 17, 2009

Math Class Decor

This upcoming school year I got to move to a different classroom. It was basically a blank slate and I was excited to get to decorate it. I have 12 feet of shelves just begging for something to sit on top of them. So I started thinking.

My first idea was to create the symbol of pi out of wire and then wrap around that flowers on a vine. To each side would be circles made from the same wire wrapped in ivy. This way the pi would really stand out from the circles. I wanted to use pi because all the kids I teach from 7th grade to Seniors know that symbol and most even know how and where to use it. I wanted circles near the pi to help jog the memory of some. But then I ran into a problem. I couldn't find any flowers on a vine that were in my budget or small enough to really work. So I kept thinking.

In the meantime, I bought some purple (a school color) material to make "curtains" to hide all the manipulatives (fancy word for teaching toys) that were now on the shelves instead of in a cabinet. I also started looking for funny quotes to print out on different colored papers to staple on the walls around the room. I wanted to find some that the Middle schoolers would get, some specifically for the Geometry class, and some that only the Calculus class would understand. Here are a few examples I found that I liked:

5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions. - for the Middle schoolers

Hey baby, what's your sine? - for Geometry class

Even calculus has it's limits. - for Calculus

Back to the pi project. I had my inspiration. It was basically the same idea but I would use styrofoam instead of wire and then I could pin flowers into that. I took pictures along the way.

Here are the materials: green styrofoam for flowers, ivy on a vine, flowers, and wire. All my supplies came from Hobby Lobby. Missing from picture are the pins which came from Wal-Mart.

First, I shaped the styrofoam with my hands, squishing it, and tearing off pieces I didn't want. It was very messy and flakes like dirt. This was my start, but I decided I wanted it wider and taller, so I kept on squishing and tearing.

Next, I glued the pieces togther. Now it is ready to start pinning on the flowers. I used hot glue to put the pieces together which, in my humble opinion, could have worked better. More about that later.

For the next step I started pinning on the flowers. I was very happy to see that the flowers would cover the seams and that the pins went in very easily, especially since I was going to have to put in so many!

After a full box of 450 pins, this is how many flowers I had left. I had just estimated how many I thought I would need at the store, so I was glad to see that almost half of the flowers covered almost half of the pi.

Coverage after 450 pins.

Of course, you know Pan had to help! He even picked off a couple of flowers from the steams for me, it was in the middle of the night, but still!

Here is the finished pi! I like it. A friend said it looked like cherries, so it must be a cherry pi. : )

It wasn't all fun and games though. At one point a leg did break off after I had all the flowers on, but I was able to fix it with more hot glue and fortified it with wires too. I was so mad when it broke. It was good I was home alone. I screamed at it and scared the poor cat. But then I got over it and fixed it. So I guess I can have slight short-term drama queen tendencies. : /

Then later another part broke off. I didn't scream, but I did get mad. I fixed it with more hot glue and wires. Like I said the hot glue could have worked better.

But then the big trauma. It was done. It was perfect. I had glued it to a piece of foam board so that it would stand. I got it out of the house. I got it in the car to take to school. I got it out of the car. I got it all the way to my classroom with no trouble. I was so careful.

Then....then....oh my gosh...then, I tried to put it up on that high six foot shelf with my short five foot (and 1 inch) self. I didn't take the time to use both hands or to even get a chair....oh no not me! I just reached it up there with one hand because the other hand was holding things and that is when disater struck. It fell. It tipped forward out of my hand and fell. It hit me in the head (didn't hurt) and then down to the floor, breaking at almost every joint.

I was devestated and extremely ticked off! That stupid hot glue wasn't worth snot! I calmed down put the wreackage in a box and came home. A friend suggested Gorilla Glue, which I bought that day. I was able to salvage my pi and the Gorilla Glue did make the structure feel much more secure. God bless Gorilla Glue!

I took everything back to school and got the ivy up. The ivy is a whole other story that I don't care to go into. Let's just say the wire and ivy did not want to play together nicely. I did what I could with it and here is the complete finished look.

Pi's permanent place

I am going to threaten the kids to within an inch of their little lives if they break it! They can look... but NO TOUCH!

I hope I have inspired you to be creative even through my pain. If I have comment and let me know!


  1. As of today I am a brand new 7th grade math teacher near Nashville, TN. Thank you so much for this crafty idea. I may not have enough time to get it ready for the first day - next week with all of my orientation and lesson planning, but I'm definitely going to keep this on my idea list. Also, I like the use of school colors.

  2. Congratulations Carla! It did take some time that is for sure. Good luck this upcoming school year and if you need any advice or ideas just me know. I will see what I can do for you.