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.
There’s a Panda weather bear set:
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. This year there are lots of black and white bulletin board sets, including one with eucalyptus cutouts. Add a Japanese Paper Panda balloon or a highly realistic Folkmanis Panda Puppet for maximum fun.
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.
Some online resources:
- Panda maze, with links to more panda worksheets
- Origami panda PDF — great for following directions practice
- A cut and paste panda craft to download or print out from the page. Shapes are the focus.
- The Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda website, with lots of ads but also games.
- Panda mask to print and cut.
- Pandas International has a collection of coloring pages and worksheets.
- An adjectives worksheet leading students to write sentences about pandas
- Panda stationery to use for snazzier report writing
- A downloadable panda activity book for K-2
- The Toymaker’s Panda Palace
- a panda petition to go with lessons on global warming, democracy, or letter writing
Let’s end with an art project: pandas created with traditional Chinese brush painting.