Panda Classroom Theme

Pandas make a great classroom theme. They connect naturally with studies of biology, environmental science, art, and punctuation — and hey, they’re cute!

It’s also very easy to find ready-made panda gear to decorate your classroom — at this time of year, that’s a big plus.

Scholastic has some seriously cute  panda stuff — the Scholastic Weather Panda Bulletin Board , the Panda-mania Bulletin Board, and the Panda Alphabet and Numbers 0-30 Bulletin Board, as well as accessories like desk plates and posters.

Pandas are cute and non-seasonal, so you can leave your theme in place all summer if you feel like it, and have a nice summer school look that won’t, as so many summer school themes do, remind you every day that you’re not on vacation like the rest of the teachers.

Dressing the room is easy: black letters on white paper saying things about “pandamonium” and a panda cutout or bulletin board set will do it. Add a Japanese Paper Panda balloon or a highly realistic Folkmanis Panda Puppet for maximum fun.

Curriculum tie-ins could include China, bamboo (you’ll be amazed at all the things being made of this highly renewable resource nowadays), and adaptation.

One more, inspired by Lynn Truss’s book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, could be a “Panda Says No” effort. Some editions of the book, which is a witty diatribe on correct written English, came with stickers saying “The Panda  Says No,” which could be stuck on public errors in punctuation. I’m not much on public correction, but it could be fun to do this in the classroom for a while.

Here’s the joke, in case you missed it (the deaths have been removed from this version):

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

So punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

There’s a version of the book for young readers now: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! If your class is still too young to think about commas, go with Eric Carle’s Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? Read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? along with it and use a Venn diagram to compare pandas and bears.

Some online resources:

Let’s end with an art project: pandas created with traditional Chinese brush painting.

Chinese brush painting lesson plan

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