Thursday, August 20, 2009

20 Cheap Ways to Decorate Your Classroom

  1. Word Wall
  2. Weekly Contest
  3. College corner (featuring your alma mater)
  4. Examples of great work from your former students
  5. Artwork, pictures and notes from your former students
  6. Class job postings
  7. Subject-related news articles
  8. Subject-related career articles
  9. A PostSecret-style project - My students came up with something like this on their own last year. It started as a couple of post-it notes anonymously detailing their feeling on the wall behind my desk. By the end of the year, it was a tremendous piece of art!
  10. Challenging question of the week (something tied to your current unit)
  11. Student of the Week
  12. Puzzle, riddle or game of the week (pulled from any brain teaser book or website)
  13. Personal photo collage; something that reveals a bit about you
  14. Plants (or grow some from seeds!)
  15. Decorative lighting, a cool floor lamp, disco ball, etc--something that adds a little color and a different feel to the room when in use (Check the fire code first!!!)
  16. Service learning project information (i.e. Kiva)
  17. Paint a piece of old furniture--a table or bookcase you're allowed to paint--with chalkboard or whiteboard paint and start an ongoing art project
  18. Work together with students to create a mural, even if it's done on paper covering the wall (and not on the wall itself)
  19. Turn any picture into a huge block poster.
  20. Nothing at all - Tell your students that you've left the walls empty because together, you are going to fill them up with classwork, artwork and other stuff to make this a space they are proud of and comfortable in.
No matter what you decide, after school has started, you should "commission" as much student-made artwork as possible. This builds classroom culture and gets them invested; it becomes "our" room, not your room.


j4luck said...

Great ideas! I will keep them in mind- I recently read that teachers spend an average of $1200 a year on materials that they need to deliver lessons effectively. Considering that it breaks down to about $120 per month that school is in session, I really understand the need for inexpensive alernatives.

I think my favorite is #20. I would like to designate at least one wall solely for student work when I have my own classroom. I have been focused a lot on ways to create a functional environment, on multiple levels. I have time right now to really contemplate and research all of the ramifications of environment on learning.

BTW- White board paint!?! You have just introduced me to endless possibilities!

Miss Cheese said...

These are fantastic ideas! I like the PostSecret idea! I may have to borrow that idea this year :) I thought about turning one of my bulletin boards into a photo collage of my students. I'm thinking about asking them to bring in a photo of themselves to create the collage. I may ask them to also write/type their favorite literary quote to attach to their photo...this is to appease admin, of course :)

Whiteboard Witch said...

Thanks, some great ideas! Even the most jaded students seem to enjoy seeing their work on display. I've found it's worth a bit of extra time either getting their stuff laminated or, for more transitory pieces, sticking them on some coloured card as a background.

JK said...

excellent suggestions -- love the Block Posters, and painting old furniture can be a great reward for table/group...

Rose fr said...

I never thought about 1/2 of your projects! What great ideas.

OK. I am going to feature some on, in the near future, as pictures and a project plan are usually very helpful to make decorating crafts a success.

Anonymous said...

I love the post a secret idea. I use a graffiti wall in my classroom Using colorful butcher block paper, students can extend the lesson sharing ideas or what they've learned. It's a great way to receive immediate feedback about a lesson. carvedfromclay2

Printing Services said...

I like these ideas a lot! I’d recommend using some standards like elements charts and history timelines so you don’t have to change too much too often. Just download free versions and use printing services to get them the right size.

Anonymous said...

At the end of every year I assign a huge project to my students in which they must creatively show me what they learned all year. I get the most amazing projects, especially because I won't accept posters! Instead I get paintings, games, videos, and other things I can't even categorize. (This year I got 3 trees, a pyramid, and a piƱata, just to name a few.) I leave the projects up through the beginning of the next year so my incoming students can get an overview of what to expect for the year. It's a very cheap way for me to decorate and it's creative and interesting-- takes very little of my time!

Anonymous said...

I am extremely interested in what your project looks like. What guidelines do you give your students and how do they like such a project?
Thanks! said...

Some good, simple ideas. I also use tablecloths (from the dollar store) to create the 3 colors of the Mexican flag. (I have bulletin boards on each side of my whiteboard, so I just buy green and red tablecloths).