Here is a fun bulletin board that I put together to showcase my students’ progress and motivate them academically. I use mine to show progress in Accelerated Reader (AR), but it could be used for any subject, such as sight words, math facts, alphabet letters learned, etc. I’m going to share how I put it together and give you the masters as a free download so that you can make one, too! My students are really enjoying it and love checking “their marble” each week to see how close they are to meeting their goal. Sound like fun? Read on to find out more!
Here’s a panoramic view of the Marble Run bulletin board up above the white board!
Each classroom at my school is required to have a bulletin board to show the children’s progress in Accelerated Reader. I really wanted to do something fun and original, so I started searching through Pinterest last summer to get some inspiration. I found several examples of bulletin boards that were made to look like board games, but most of them looked difficult to create or came from store bought kits, which really didn’t appeal to me very much. Click here to see the pin that inspired this bulletin board! As I searched for ideas, I really wound up with a wonderful collection of bulletin boards on Pinterest! If you like Pinterest as much as I do, check out my Bulletin Board Pinboard below!
I thought about just starting to cut out pieces freehand to make a similar bulletin board, but I just didn’t picture it coming out very well, so I decided to make myself a master using Adobe Illustrator. It worked out great! I just experimented with it a bit until I had a couple of working pieces that would fit together in all sorts of directions, and then I went to Michael’s and purchased some brightly colored card stock paper. That way, I wouldn’t have to pay for any color printing- only black ink!
Once I had the masters drawn and had printed a few, I laid them out to see how many pieces I would need to cover about three yards of space. Then I multiplied it out from there to see how much I would need to cover the length of my wall, which is about nine yards. I also knew that the design would have to fit in a space of only 18 inches, or I would have to reduce the size of my masters and try again. Luckily, it all fit! It was after I started laying them out that I decided it really looked like a marble run toy!
I would tell you how many pieces you need to cover a yard, but the problem is that it really depends on the design you choose! At the minimum, it could take you six or seven pieces, but if you double back and make loops, it could take twice as many as that! So if you decide to make a bulletin board like this, I suggest that you just print out the pieces as you build it and pin them up as you go along. Once you have them pinned the way you like them, you can staple them on.
My students decorated their own “marbles,” with scented markers, and then I added their names printed on return address stickers. I laminated them on my personal laminator for durability since they will be moved weekly. However, I wasn’t able to laminate the marble run itself because it turns out that my school doesn’t have a large laminator, and I didn’t want to spend the time to feed all of those pages through my small laminator one at a time.
Each Friday afternoon, I check their progress towards their AR goals, and move their marbles. (Well, most of them get their marbles moved!) A couple of my first graders are just learning to read and consequently their reading comprehension is still in the beginning stages. This is reflected in their AR progress, of course!
On the other hand, one of my second graders already met his AR goal for the trimester! That kid is a reading SUPERSTAR! He reads, and reads, and READS! And his comprehension is OUTSTANDING! He LOVES to see that marble move down the marble run! Another second grader was at the halfway point to her trimester goal this week, and I know that I have a very smart and competitive FIRST GRADER that has been reading everything he can get his hands on and begging to take AR tests, just so that he can see his marble “roll” down towards the goal. I think that he was at about the 40% mark on Friday last week, and is at about 90% of the way there right now!
Some of the kids asked what we would do if they met their goal early, so I decided that we would add a crown to their marble, just like in the game Checkers! We’ll KING you, I said! You can be the AR king or queen! How do you like that? I also ordered some self-stick rhinestone jewels so that we could add a jewel to the crown each time the child meets his goal an additional time, because I can already see that this is going to happen several times a year!
But I do feel bad for the children that are trying hard, but can’t really keep up. Some of the first graders are comparing themselves to the second graders, who have been reading for much longer. However, there isn’t much I can do to shield them from that. We are in a combination class, after all! It just is what it is. I’ve been reminding them that their second grade friends were also beginning readers last year, and that in another year they will read just as well.
If you would like to make this bulletin board, just click here to download the masters! And I would LOVE it if you would share some photos with me later!
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