How to Set Up An Easy Glow Day Classroom Transformation in Middle School

January 1, 2022 1 Comment
Grab a freebie to create your own glow day in your middle school classroom.

Have you been wanting to set up an easy glow day classroom transformation in middle school? Many people think classroom transformations are expensive and time-consuming but I am going to break down how to transform your classroom for a glow day. I have direct links, pictures, and examples to help guide you.

What is a Classroom Transformation

Read This If You Are New to a Classroom Transformation…

So what is a classroom transformation? It’s a day where you transform your classroom or space into something new or different. The reason for doing this is to transform your students’ learning and experience. Classroom transformation themes can be just about anything, but the beauty of classroom transformations is that you can make them as “big” or “small” as you want! You can tie classroom transformations to the content you are teaching in so many ways or simply for a testing day. Did you catch one of my previous blog posts where I showed you how to set up a Starbucks Day? If not, click here to read it and get the freebie. 

What is a Glow Day?

Have you seen teachers on social media talking about having a glow day classroom transformation? Glow day is just another classroom transformation theme idea. It is exactly what it sounds like; a day where you create a setting in your classroom with glow effects related to whatever content you are wanting to review or practice. Although it probably seems like a lot of work, it isn’t and really pays off with how engaged your students will be in response. 

An Overview of Our Glow Day

This classroom transformation was set up in “station” style, or with rotations in which students moved to each activity to practice evaluating expressions using the order of operations. There were 4 stations in total that each involved a simple game that was paired with the math questions. I structured it to where at each game, students earned points, and at the end, the team with the most points “wins”. The decor and setup of the room were minimal as most of it was printed. Keep reading to get the full details of how to set up a glow day classroom transformation in middle school as well as a link to a freebie for your own Glow Day!

Set up a glow day for evaluating expressions!

What Materials Were Used for Our Glow Day Classroom Transformation

This is a list of what when setting up our glow day classroom transformation. Although we created the instructional resource materials for this glow day, you can use whatever instructional resource is fitting for your students. I will be providing a link that will take you to the black lights I used as well as other optional items for your glow day. Remember, that you can take and utilize what will work best for your own classroom transformation from this list. 

Amazon Link- Click Here (This is an affiliate link and I make a small percentage if you make a purchase through this link).

  • 2 Blacklights
  • Ceiling Tile Hooks (To hang lights from the ceiling)
  • Glow Jenga (Station activities)
  • Glow Tape (Decor)
  • Glow in the Dark Cups (Station activities and decor)
  • Glow Paint (Decor)
  • Astrobrights Paper (To print materials)
  • Glow Sticks (Decor)
  • Yellow Office Depot Highlighters (For students to write)
  • Black Butcher Paper (Optional: To blackout room and cover tables)
  • Black Table Cloths (Dollar Tree or you can use the butcher paper)
  • Evaluating Expressions GLOW DAY Resource

Printable Prep for Glow Day

Prior to jumping into setting up the physical space, I print all of the materials I will need from the resource. The resource has a breakdown of what page is needed for each station so it makes it super easy to follow. A few things to keep in mind when you are printing and copying materials for your Glow Day classroom transformation.

  • Astrobrights paper works great and glows with black lights, except for the pink paper from the pack so avoid using that color. I print all of the decor and station signs using this paper.
  • Students have a piece of paper for each station where they will show their work. I print these on white paper and give students yellow office depot highlighters to write. Pencil is difficult to see in the room with the lights off. Keep in mind that not all highlighter brands will glow, but Office Depot brand definitely does.
  • I also print each team’s “scorecard” on white paper so it is visible when written on.

How To Set Up An Easy Glow Day Classroom Transformation in Middle School: Station Set Up

Once you have all of your supplies and materials gathered, you are ready for set-up. I set up the day before because the day of is always a little crazy and I want to make sure I am prepared. If you have former students who can help, get them on board! I usually have 3 amazing former students set up my WHOLE room with little help from me and it saves me so much time. Now, I am going to explain how I set up my classroom for our glow day stations. Again, keep in mind that this is to meet the needs of the station-style activities we utilized however you may be able to take these ideas and apply them to your own GLOW Day.

I start with setting up the actual stations first. I start with moving my tables. I push 2 tables together for each station for a total of 4 stations. I try to keep the stations spread out in the middle of the room and I push the remaining tables on the perimeter of my classroom for student work areas. If you have more than 25 students like me, you may want to consider making 2 of each station so that you limit each station from getting crowded. Once the tables are situated, I cover them with the black table cloths or butcher paper so I can start setting up the materials for each station. I use the glow tape to make designs on the tables and set out the station signs with instructions at each. Keep in mind, at this point I have already printed all of the materials for the instructional portion of the stations. Below is the breakdown for the setup of each station. 

A break down for a classroom glow day!

Station #1: Rock-or-Roll

For station 1, the supplies are minimal and all I used were 10 disposable cups, along with the printable pages. I have used regular red solo cups and decorated them with the glow tape, or you can use glow-in-the-dark disposable cups. In this station, students will lift a cup and there will be a question card and point card under it. Students will solve that question and if they are correct, they get that amount of points. If they are wrong, they lose that amount of points. If they lift a cup and see a “rock” card, they automatically lose that number of points. Students continue that process until it is time to rotate. The only setup for this station is making sure the question cards and point cards are cut out. Then, I place the cards around the table with a cup face down on each set. 

Station #2: Plinko

For station 2, setup can look a few ways. In my first year doing this transformation, I created a “fake” Plinko-like game using a classroom table, soda cans, sentence strips, disposable cups, and a ball to roll. To make the Plinko, I taped 6 cups on the edge of one side of the table. On the edge of the table or in front of the cup, tape the point value cards. In each cup, I placed the questions from the resource after cutting them. On the table, I spread out about 7-10 soda cans that would serve as the “barriers” that the ball will bounce off of as it goes down. Lastly, on the sides of the table, I taped sentence strips that served as the “bumpers” so that the ball would not roll off of the table and end up in a cup. I stuck 3-4 books on one side of the table’s legs to elevate it downward (just a few inches so the items stay in place on the table). 

This year, I invested in a miniature tabletop Plinko board from Amazon that I will utilize for years to come and repurpose as a review game. Rather than having to set up a table, if you go with this Plinko board, you will simply number the spaces at the bottom of the game 1-4. Then, set 4 cups on the table with questions in each and tape the point values on. 

To play, students will throw the “puck” or roll the ball. Whatever number or cup they land in is the cup they will pull a question from. If they get the question correct, they get that number of points. If they are incorrect, they lose that number of points. Students continue that process until it is time to rotate.

Station #3: Slip-n-Slide

For station 3, all you need is a few objects students will be able to “slide” across the table. I used counting bear manipulatives I already had but you can also use dice, counter chips, or even toy cars. I used a highlighter and chalk marker to “color” in spots on the objects to make them glow, but you could also use glow tape. Aside from that, I needed the questions and point cards printed and cut. For setup, I taped the point cards around the table and then placed a question face down by each point card.

In this station, students will take turns “sliding” the object down the table. Whatever card they land on is the question their team solves. If they get it correct, they get that amount of points. If they are incorrect, they lose that number of points. Students continue that process until it is time to rotate.

Station #4: Color Pop

Station 4 has the easiest setup as it simply is a game of “Jenga”. For this station, all that was needed is a Jenga set and the questions. I used grant money to buy the Glow Jenga, however, you can use regular Jenga or even the Dollar Tree version called Tumbling Towers and use glow tape to color-code them. Another alternative is to simply use popsicle sticks and color-code them. In this station, students take turns pulling a block from the tower. Whatever block they pull is the color question they answer. Each color on the questions mat has corresponding points to it. If they get the question right, they earn that number of points. If they are incorrect, they lose that number of points. Students continue that process until it is time to rotate.

Learn how to set up a classroom glow day with examples and a freebie!

How To Set Up An Easy Glow Day Classroom Transformation in Middle School: Decor Set Up

The last part of the setup is the decor for GLOW day, my favorite part! Here is a breakdown of how to set up a glow day classroom transformation in middle school.

Black Lights

I start with setting up the black lights. I used a total of 2 black lights in my classroom (linked above) and they were plenty. However, there are a lot of factors that play into how many black lights you may need. Consider how dark you can get your room if you could cover windows with black butcher paper, and where you have access to hang the lights. I use the ceiling tile hooks (linked above) to attach them to the ceiling which allows the light to “disperse” further versus being on the floor. Be sure to test your placement of the lights prior to the day to ensure they are bright enough for students to see the materials.

Decorations

The “decor” I use for this glow day classroom transformation is minimal, I simply print the decor from the resource and display them throughout the stations and classroom. I use the glow tape (linked above) to add designs on the station tables and the floor to add a little extra pop. There are a lot of options you can buy on Amazon for extra decor, however, I found that the black lights and station set up at each table are plenty.

Structuring the Glow Day Classroom Transformation and Tips

Above any decorations and activities, you plan for glow day, structuring the day is key to the success of the classroom transformation. I’m going to outline the main things I do and consider when structuring the day plus a few extra tips.

How To Set Up An Easy Glow Day Classroom Transformation in Middle School
  1. I put my students in teams to go through the stations and make it a competition of which team has the most points at the end. I put 4-5 students in each team and have found it to be the ideal amount from my experience. As students walk in, I assign them a “color” and they each get a glow stick that is the same color. The glow stick isn’t necessary but adds a fun way for students to get excited to be in their teams. That color is their team “name” that they indicate on their scorecard.
  2. There are between 10-20 questions in each station of the resource so most likely, your students will not get through every single problem. Think about how much time you have in total and calculate how long you will give students at each station. Consider having a timer displayed on a slide or a way for students to know. Don’t forget to build in “reset” and transition time slots between each rotation. Most of the stations will require students to put the questions “back” in the cup or flipped over for the next group. 
  3. Set the tone and expectations for the glow day before anything. In order for things to run smoothly and prevent frustration on your end, model, explain and walk through each station on what students are supposed to do. I literally go from station to station and show students what is at each table, what it should look like, and what it should not look like. I also remind students that the station sign has instructions if they forget. Although this will take around 5-7 minutes of your time block, it will be worth it so that students can successfully participate in the Glow activities.
  4. Consider how you will have students show their work along the way. This is an expectation I set from day one with everything and anything we do in my classroom so my students know my expectation. If this is something your students struggle with or you usually do not enforce, consider how you will set that expectation and what you actually want them to “show”. 
  5. Giving my students the responsibility for checking their answers is something I do often in my classroom so for this glow day classroom transformation, I chose to leave an answer key at each station so students can check after each problem. My expectation is very clear and students know that their entire team must have their work on their paper before checking the answer key, otherwise their team loses out on the privilege to participate. If you do not feel like your students are ready for that, consider other options like having them come to a designated area in the classroom where you can watch them check the key each time. I assign a “captain” in each team and they are the only person in their team who is allowed to have access to the key.  
  6. If you decide to run your stations as a “point system” like mine, think about if you will have a “prize” for the winning team. I do small things like jolly ranchers, an extra credit point, and water bottle stickers. Click here to get direct links (This is an affiliate link and I get a small commission if you make a purchase through it).
  7. I like to build the anticipation leading up to the day without giving it away. The resource I have mentioned has a student “invite ticket” for the glow day that I hand out the day before and tell students to wear neon or white. They are always so curious and excited to see what the room looks like when I do a classroom transformation and this is a big part of creating buy-in.
  8. I like to dress the part on classroom transformations. I bring out my neon yellow construction vest (click here) and use glow paint to paint small designs on my face for the day. It helps bring just a little more excitement for the day and helps me look the part. Bring out your neon clothes that day so you can be in character!

Here are some links that may be helpful as you prepare for your Glow Day Classroom Transformation.

  • Amazon Storefront Links 
    • This link will take you to a one-stop-shop where everything we used for this Glow Day classroom transformation can be found. Please keep in mind this is an affiliate link and I make a very small commission if you purchase through my link.

More Places to find Info. for a Glow Day Classroom Transformation

If you are on Instagram or Tiktok, you can find detailed posts and videos with more information on this glow day classroom transformation. 

Click here for Instagram (This is my grade level partner teacher and I’s joint account and we do all of our classroom transformations together!)

Please let me know if you have any questions and if this was helpful! I hope you found some useful information in this breakdown of how to set up an easy glow day classroom transformation in middle school.

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    I am a passionate middle school Math teacher who loves bringing engagement and rigor into my classroom. My goal is to support classroom teachers in making Math instruction meaningful for their students too! Read More

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