Setting Thesaurus Entry: Classroom

For each entry, the first section applies to the generic items found in most classrooms, plus items specific to an elementary classroom. The second section will contain items found in a secondary room.


white board, markers, eraser, door with little window in it, bulletin boards, displayed art/school work, posters, window, bookshelves with books, teacher's desk, computer, printer, garbage can, pencil sharpener, grade/attendance book, coffee mug, flowers, calendar, stapler, stool for teacher to sit on, student desks and chairs, textbooks, paper, notebooks, folders, pens/pencils, backpacks, jackets, soft chair/sofa/pillows, sink, art center with easel/art supplies/table, toys, puzzles, manipulatives, colorful carpet, pencil boxes with school supplies, hooks to hang jackets on, lunch boxes, cabinets for storage, file cabinet, wall clock, fish tank, cursive alphabet on wall, clock, plant, magnets on white board, agendas

JR/SR classroom: maps on wall, atlas, dictionaries, threasurus, computer stations, plastic trays for class work/homework, garbage bin, pencil sharpener, desks with graffitti or carvings, battered chairs, sparce 'personal to teacher' decor, themed rooms: Long metal tables, slides, microscopes, jars, vials, Bunsen Burners, standing skeleton, periodic table of elements, etc for chemistry/biology class; rulers, geometry sets, calculators, charts, graphs, graph paper etc for Math/Calculus; costumes, props, sets, stage design materials, audio equiptment, stage, etc for Drama; easels, art history books, good lighting, paints, pots, clay, posters, sketch pads, graphite pencils, charcoal, for Art; etc.

Sounds: students talking/laughing/whispering/shouting, singing, music being played, teachers talking/yelling/teaching, fire alarm going off, intercoms buzzing on, doors slamming, sneakers squeaking, voices echoing in the hallway, chairs scraping, backpacks unzipping, pencils being sharpened, pens being uncapped or clicked, clang of things dropping in metal garbage cans, papers shuffling, rip of papers being torn from notebooks, riffle of turning book pages, murmur of students reading aloud, toy bins sliding off of shelves, clack of computer keyboard, staplers stapling, soft sound of erasers being used, snick of scissors, click of the clock's second hand, timers ringing, wind blowing outside, rain pattering on windows, voices drifting in from playground, a/c /heat clicking on

JR/SR classroom: A lockers slamming shut out in the hall, swearing, back talk, conversation, rude noises, belching, catty chatter, voiced threats or detentions being handed out, droning teacher

Smells: food from the cafeteria, coffee, candy, scent from flowers, sweaty bodies, glue, paint, crayons, markers, warm smell of heat turning on, seasonal smells from art projects (peppermint, pumpkin, jelly beans, apple, etc), disinfectant, hand sanitizer, warm smell of newly-photocopied papers, smells from science projects (chemicals, soil, water, vinegar, metal, rubber, heat lamps), snack foods (crackers, cookies, apples, carrots, grapes, chips, juice), rain

JR/SR classroom: Cologne, purfume, hairspray, body spray, too-sweet lip gloss, body odor, cigarette smoke/skunky pot smell clinging to clothes and hair, smelly shoes, food mouldering in backpacks brought to class

Tastes: wooden pencil, rubbery eraser, chewing gum, candy, water, acidic marker, cupcakes, snacks

JR/SR classroom: after-cigarrette/pot taste, other drugs, breath mints/sprays, pop, coffee, energy drinks


smooth desktops, angular pencils, scratch of pens/pencils over paper, hard floor, fuzzy carpet, rubbery eraser, vibration of pencil sharpener, hard seat, cold/warm air, crumple of jacket where it hangs over the back of your chair, heavy backpack strap, your foot on the chair of the person in front of you, textures of different kinds of paper (notebook, construction, cardstock), slide of markers on white board, bristly paintbrush, slick paint, papery feel of crayons, teeter of chair as you lean back, gobs of dried glue stuck to tabletop, weight of book held in your hand, slats of chair pressing into your back

JR/SR classroom: Same, but no crayons, lol

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: The door slammed shut as my last student escaped, and I surveyed the damage. Glitter twinkled in the air. The white board had turned to an odoriferous rainbow of jelly, apple juice, and strawberry yogurt. Water dripped from the overflowing sink. My shoes squished in the carpet as I made my way to the faucet. Not bad for my first day.

Example 2:

I slid onto my stool and stashed my backpack beneath the table as Mr Rosen handed out our exams. The room was silent, except for the solid thump of an exam booklet landing in front of each student. To my left, Rina scanned some notes on her hand beneath the table we shared, her brow furrowing as she tried to decypher the sweat-smudged formulas. Up in the front row, Mark was already bent over his paper, one hand snaking up to rub the back of his neck--not a good sign. As the teacher reached my row, I picked up my pencil with cold fingers, wishing I'd spent the evening studying instead of watching My New Best Friend.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile) The classroom sounded like a frenzied mob in a gladiator's arena.

Example 2: (Metaphor) The timer blared, a death knell ending both the test and the hopes of every student in the room.


Ghost Girl said...

I love this kind of "free-writing" prep. I do this too, especially if I'm stuck or just need a little help putting myself into the mood.

PJ Hoover said...

I just love the smells section you guys come up with!

Marian said...

You took me back in time. I was wondering what I smelled in school, and I remembered that we used some strange method of making photocopies (this was back in the Middle East). The copies were lettered in purple ink, and they smelled really strong and chemical-ly. I can't even define the smell, just that it was very sharp and pungent, like nail polish remover.

As the copies came out of the machine, they were damp, too, and took a little while to dry. God alone knows what kind of chemicals went into them. I just hope no one ever ate any.

Becca said...

I always start this exercise thinking the list will be short; it's amazing how much stuff you're able to come up with.

PJ, I think that smell and taste make the most sensory impact in writing. Yet, they're the most underutilized. I try to give those extra attention, but taste is really hard for me, for some reason.

Kelly said...

This was great! I had to giggle at sweaty bodies in the smell section. My nine year old son came home and said his teacher said that they should start wearing deodorant soon!
When I was a teacher, I had this one little boy who NEVER brushed his teeth, so I'd give him breathmints for motivation when he'd finish his work (which he needed motivation for that anyway, it was Win-win!)

Nora MacFarlane said...

What a great blog! I find myself stopping by often.

Lapillus said...

This one is definitely going to come in handy.

By the way, I've awarded you an award over on my blog. If you've had it before just enjoy the mention!

Thanks for creating this awesome blog!

Mary Witzl said...

I love the smells sectıon too! I can stıll remember that lunch cupboard smell of cheap wood, bananas, and bologna.

As for sweaty bodies, you ought to be in one of my classrooms here when the sun is high in the sky and all the boys are present and accounted for. W-O-W.

Angela said...

The way we all grew up differently is what makes our descriptions unique. Take classrooms, for instance--all of us have slightly different memories of the same thing--so wehn we flesh out a setting, we draw on those details that stand out to us.

For me, I remember the smells of forgotten baloney sandwiches in the coat closet area and chalk (we still had chalkboards back then in Elementary school).

Angela said...

Thanks for the award--we're so honored! Our fellow bloggers are the BEST!!

Becca said...

Woot! Thanks lapillus!

Marian, I think that was the mimeograph machine, and I totally remember that smell, too. It was always on my hands (along with the purple smudges) after getting one of those sheets.

Thanks for the props, Nora!

Mr. H. said...

This is a fantastic resource, and I will use it often. Thank you for doing this.

But I had to laugh, as a teacher myself, at the dichotomy between the general positivity and innocense of the lower grades references, and the general negativity reflected in the upper grades. Sadly, you hit the nail!!


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