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Back to school: Classroom decorations 101

Kindergarten kids in the classroom
Photo credit: svetikd/Getty Images

For teachers, walking into a classroom before a new year begins is like facing a blank slate of endless decorating possibilities. Imagine having the classroom everyone is jealous of. Students who aren’t even yours peek in to check it out. Fellow teachers ooh and ahh over your design and creativity. Parents wander through in amazement at Back-to-School Night.

Get out your notebook: It’s back-to-school time, and you’ve just stepped into Classroom Decorations 101!

Keep it fresh and fun

Teachers and students will spend hundreds of hours surrounded by those four walls, so the classroom decorations should make a brightly-colored, cheerful environment that encourages creativity, and just feels good to be in.

Whether you teach 5-year-olds or 15-year-olds, their learning environments affect them deeply. Whether they admit it or not, students of all ages appreciate and benefit from surroundings that are upbeat, warm and welcoming.

MORE: Back to school: Must-have school supplies

As you plan your walls and bulletin boards, think about the ambiance you would like to create. Will you have a theme running throughout the room? Will you have bright colors everywhere or just one main color with accents there and there?

Students, when not focused on what you’re teaching, tend to look around at the walls. Will you display positive sayings that reinforce your lessons? Those walls can serve as subtle but effective learning opportunities day after day. The multitude of anchor charts you probably make will serve as references as students are working and need a little reminder or help answering a question.

A display of pride

Saving some room to display student work is important, too. When students see their projects displayed, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment — like when a parent hangs a child’s artwork on the refrigerator.

Classrooms also can foster community. Involve students in the decorating and design. Give them spaces where they can decorate, post their own inspirational quotes, ask questions, and seek answers. Ask them what they want. And, keep it current! If you put up a wonderful display at the beginning of the year that doesn’t change for the next nine months, it will lose its impact fairly quickly.

Budget-friendly ways to decorate a classroom

Thankfully, creating an award winning classroom doesn’t have to completely blow your budget. Below are some decorating ideas we found to be particularly creative and just plain cool, but still easy on your budget.

  • You could go online or to the school supply store and spend hundreds on borders for your walls and bulletin boards — or, you can check out some of these DIY options, brilliantly created by Mrs. King Rocks, that use supplies you might already have lying around your house.
  • At Fusion Yearbooks, you’ll find dozens of ways to repurpose old containers for new, fun and inexpensive decorating ideas, classroom management and lesson inspiration.
  • Talk about personalizing a bulletin board for the kiddos: This future leader bulletin board is an inspiring way to start the school year.
  • Create a warm, comfy library and reading corner in your classroom that will entice even the most reluctant reader.
  • If most days you feel like the ringleader of a circus, then this circus theme just might be what you need to decorate both your classroom door and the inside of your classroom.
  • When the first thing you see entering a classroom is a positive message, it’s hard to not feel welcome.
  • Even though it’s been around for more than 20 years, the Harry Potter series is still a favorite of secondary-school kids and makes for a magical classroom theme.
  • For a quick and easy way to brighten up your classroom, check out these hanging paper lanterns.
  • These classy motivational posters give students something worthwhile to read when their eyes (and minds) begin to wander.
  • Want to bring a little of bit of nature into your classroom? These beautiful butterflies will look lovely fluttering around your classroom.
  • A perfectly simple, affordable way to add tons of color to your room are these sheer curtains, guaranteed to brighten up any classroom.
  • If your students don’t have jobs, they should! And this job bulletin board pack can help everyone keep track of who’s doing what each week.
  • Teach world history? How about displaying flags of all the nations?
  • This family tree makes everyone feel like part of the (classroom) family. After all, you are going to be spending nine months together!

Printable flags of many nations for your classroom

Just click on the image below to see a larger version!

Flags of many countries - Printable

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