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Do you want to know how to make your classroom cozy? Read on to learn three tips to include hygge in the classroom this winter.
What is Hygge – Denmark’s Coziest Tradition?
Hygge (pronounced hyoo-guh) is the art of creating a cozy atmosphere in the long, dark days of winter. ‘Hygge’ originates from a Norwegian word that means “well-being.” In Denmark, hygge is a normal cultural practice, but the Danes are certainly not the only ones who can benefit from it. Explaining the exact meaning of hygge can be tricky but author Meik Wiking says “To paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers of our time – Winnie-the-Pooh – when asked how to spell a certain emotion, “You don’t spell it, you feel it.” Hygge cannot be explained; it has to be felt.
Hygge is about creating a feeling of togetherness, warmth, and safety in your classroom whether it’s wintertime or not. Hygge allows you to let your guard down, which is why it’s so important in our classrooms. Deep learning requires you to be willing to be wrong, and that requires vulnerability. The magic of hygge creates a community where students can get to the heart of their learning.
Here are three ways how you can make your classroom cozy this winter with the magical practice of hygge.
3 Ways to Add Hygge in the Classroom
1. Create a Cozy Classroom Environment
A cozy classroom isn’t necessarily a silent classroom. A cozy classroom is one in which students are relaxed and focused. There are physical and nonphysical practices that make your classroom cozy.
Creating a visually-calming environment is the first step toward bringing hygge into the classroom. 85 percent of Danes associate candles with hygge, however, candles are not exactly fire-safety friendly. Instead, you can use these electric tealights and soft lamps with dimmers to create coziness, since fluorescent lights are the least-hygge thing on the planet. You can also display this 10-hour video of a crackling fireplace for extra coziness.
TIP: Put the video link into safeshare.tv in order to remove any ads and distractions from the video.
Another tip to keep your classroom smelling fresh and cozy is to fill these favor bags with delicious-smelling items like cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange peels, or fir sprigs if you have them where you live. Tie the bag tight and tuck them in the corners of your classroom for a delicious-smelling, natural fragrance. Just don’t forget to remove these before a long break away from school.
Social-Emotional Hygge Pracices
Adding items to your classroom is one way to make your classroom cozy. Creating good systems and habits is also important so that students feel calm and confident about how to navigate your classroom. These habits are typically set at the beginning of the year, but students may need a refresher. You can always spend one week refocusing on habits to remind your students how to be conscientious in how they share your classroom space.
2. Get Outside with Hygge
The Danes (and my parents) say that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. I grew up in a very cold part of the northeast where winters sometimes lasted until May. There were very few days in my childhood when my school allowed us to stay indoors for recess.
When I went to college in update New York, we trudged to class through two feet of snow in -20 degree temps. I never remember a canceled class over bad weather. You can imagine my shock when I started my first teaching job and was told that students would be inside if the temperatures dropped below 40 degrees. Then, I moved to Texas where everything shuts down at the sight of a snowflake.
Being in nature is an integral part of hygge. The act of disconnecting from electronics and connecting with friends outside is a great happiness booster. I noticed after a few years of teaching that the days we went outside for recess were far easier than the days we stayed inside. Being outdoors revives our minds and bodies for learning and connects us to the present moment.
If your students need proper clothing for the outdoors, be sure to connect their families to local nonprofits that provide winter clothing to kids. Bundle up, head outside, and bask in the benefits of hygge. If this is new to students and they aren’t sure what to do, challenge students to observe and identify items found around the school property, like the local trees and leaves.
3. Build Social Relationships like the Danish
The best predictor of happiness is our social relationships, and that’s true whether you are at home or at school. The good news doesn’t end there. Research shows that when students have strong social-emotional skills, they are not only happier, but they perform better academically. Social skills aren’t something that can simply be taught; they must be practiced.
Social connection is an essential part of hygge, and you can create that in your classroom. Set your students up to find things they have in common and incorporate peer collaboration into your school day. My classroom resources always include a discussion component where students can discuss important and engaging topics to get to know each other better. You can also provide unstructured time for students to engage in small groups and play structured games that lead to community building.
One of my best-selling units on Cultural Identity includes four opportunities to build togetherness and social connections. Using slides and projects, students discuss how culture is connected to various aspects of our lives, like our names, our families, and our homes. Find the unit here or on Teachers Pay Teachers.
If hygge can create one of the world’s happiest societies, it can certainly improve the well-being of your classroom. Implement these hygge classroom ideas for the coziest classroom. If you would like to explore more ways to bring hygge into your classroom, read The Little Book of Hygge.
Are you a mainstream or multicultural teacher?
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