While your brain may still be in summer mode with the whole month of August still ahead, the new school year is just around the corner. I welcome my students back into the classroom exactly one month from today. So, that means it’s already time to start preparing before everything catches up with you at once. Whether this is your first year as a teacher or your thirtieth, you’re probably looking forward to the first day when you get to welcome your students to an exciting new year. Finding some creative ways to prepare your classroom can be a great way to get your brain in school mode. Plus, a nicely decorated classroom is a great first sight for a nervous group of new students. But if you’re like many teachers, your decorations for your classroom come out of your own pocket, so it’s important to find ways to do so on a budget.
8 Tips for Decorating Your Classroom
- Start by picking out a few colors or a theme for the classroom. Choosing something in advance to keep the room cohesive is a good way to ensure your room looks great without forcing you to spend a lot on fancy supplies. Color combinations could be blue and white, or red, blue, and yellow, or green and yellow. Some themes might include Dr. Seuss, under the sea, reading, different cultures, famous landmarks or national parks, natural environments, outer space, ancient Egypt, or old-fashioned school motifs (books with belts, rulers, and apples). As you buy and collect items to use, keep your themes or colors in mind to make sure the end result is pleasing to the eye and consistent.
- Reuse and repurpose old supplies from last year. Got some chalkboard borders that are showing their age? Cut out the worn parts and use what’s left over to border the front of your desk, to decorate storage boxes, or to outline your calendar.
- Shop discount bins at a craft store or supply shop. Look for items that are not specifically targeted towards teachers to avoid the pre-school year price hike. Think about items like craft paper, patterned duct tape, scrapbook supplies, and ribbon to use as low cost decorations. Make paper pom-poms to hang from the ceiling, border your desks and cabinets with the decorative tape, and use different colored ribbons to make garlands and tassels to hang from door frames or desks.
- You can save a lot of money by printing out lots of nice tools and decorations at home. Design and print out name tags, keywords for the board, signs and labels for student folders and cubbies, etc. One fun idea: have each of the kids choose their own little icon on the first day of school. Provide your own printed out images or stickers of things like an apple, a star, a piano, a dog, etc. Have students choose out an icon and use this as their personal icon for the rest of the year so you can hand out binders, workbooks, and cubbies with their name and symbol. Or personalize each item with an actual picture of each student.
- If you want to get decorations for the wall that look a little cleaner and more professional, print out your own. You can also design your own educational tools as posters and decorations and then look into low-cost online signs that you can customize and have delivered.
- Get foam letters, Velcro letters, or letter decals to use around the room. Use them to spell out key concepts or to label items related to your subject. For example, if you teach Spanish, order some fun foamy stick-on letters to label the chalkboard as “pizarra” and the front of your desk as “escritorio.”
- Shop thrift stores, yard sales, and free giveaway events to find some unique items to use as decorations. For example, collect old dolls, actions figures, and other toys, glue them to a ribbon or piece of foamy board that you can hang over the chalkboard to act like a fun banner. Or get old books and frame the dust jackets to use as wall hangings or string them over a piece of ribbon to act like a garland. If you have a slightly higher budget, get some interesting vintage or antique toys or school items and use these as decorations. Make sure to put them up high if you don’t want them to get lost in the mix of toys and books. Fun ideas might include vintage lunch boxes, old textbooks and workbooks, vintage chalkboards, and wax apples.
- Find creative ways to make your storage solution part of your decoration scheme. Frame game boards and hang them up as decorations. Use sturdy cloth bags to hold the game pieces and attach these to the back of the frame so nothing gets lost. Use some of your shelving space to have some books facing forward so that their covers can act as decorations. And as your students start to produce their own art and projects, dedicate plenty of space to display these. This will liven up your classroom while encouraging your students to succeed.
If you’re the type to love decorating and DIY projects, then you’ll have no trouble making your classroom look great. But even if you’re not so skilled with scissors and glue, you can find lots of creative and low-cost ways to make your classroom feel welcoming and personalized.