The Classroom Cafe: Creating an ideal writing space

Shurley Cafe Image.jpg

Sniff, sniff, mmmm! There’s something special about the aroma of that sweet, little corner coffee shop.  The lingering scent of a creamy caramel latte, mixed with the boldness of jet-black espresso, brings a smile to my face.  The dimmed lights and down-tempo tunes playing in the background set the stage for an ideal writing space.  I settle-in, let the atmosphere inspire me, and begin to write. 

A great way to keep your students engaged is by turning your classroom into a cafe…The Shurley Café. The creation and set-up of the actual Shurley Café is completely up to you, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Shurley Cafe.jpg

How to Create The Shurley Café:

  • Arrange desks in two’s or small groups.

  • Dim the lights or bring in lamps with soft lighting.

  • Play calming, quiet music in the background.

  • Create a Shurley Café sign.

  • Create a Café Chat bulletin board.

  • Create a Reflection Form for students to write their Café Chat reflection on. (More on that in a bit.)

  • Make hot cocoa/cider to enjoy while the café is open.

  • Wear an apron.

  • Serve a light snack.

  • Invite your administration to the café!

  • Turn this into an opportunity for silent reading, as well!

  • Repeat as often as you like.

Let’s write! Now that you have The Shurley Café ready to go, it’s time to start composing. Since it is holiday time, why not have students explore how other countries celebrate Christmas?  Afterwards, they can compare it to their own family’s celebration.  It’s a great way to learn about traditions around the world as well as the traditions of their peers while working through the writing process.

To get started, you’ll need to do the following:

1. Assign different countries to students.

2. Allow time in your plans for students to research on the computer.

3. Check out some books that cover Christmas customs from around the world.

4. Make copies of a Venn Diagram.

5. Makes copies of the guided Café Chat reflection paragraph (example below).

6. Refer students to helpful websites, such as:




Here’s a day-by-day overview to help you with your planning:


  1. Assign a Comparison/Contrast Essay

  2. Choose a topic.

  3. Research your topic using books or the computer during class.

  4. Take notes on your topic.


  1. Create a Venn diagram.

  2. Write a rough draft.

  3. Begin the revising and editing process in class, individually. Revise and edit with your partner, if time allows.


  1. Continue the revising and editing process.

  2. Share your composition with your teacher.

  3. Write your final draft in class. (Complete as homework if you need extra time.)

  4. Create an illustration that depicts your topic, if time allows.

Thursday: The Shurley Café Day!

  1. Share your essay while you enjoy a warm cup of cocoa. (You can do this activity with a partner or in small groups.)

  2. Write a Café Chat reflection. (see below.)

Friday: The Shurley Café Day!

  1. Share your reflection with your partner or small group.

  2. Post your reflection on the Café Chat bulletin board. (Share with the entire class if you’d like to do so.)

  3. Enjoy reading the Café Chat board while you sip your drink and socialize.

Remember, you are still the leader of the room—more like the guide by the side in this scenario—so classroom management is very important.  Be there to assist your students through the writing process. This is their opportunity to show you what they’ve learned! You can teach so much more than writing in an activity like this!  Have an enjoyable experience and a peaceful holiday season!  


Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.


Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.