5 Amazing Classroom Decoration Ideas that engage and inspire.

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Amazing learning happens in inviting classrooms

As teachers we have no control over whether students go home to a happy, stimulating or a caring environment, but we do control the four walls you, and your students will spend some of the most formative moments of their young lives; your classroom.

Your classroom is the space in which you will spend around 1200 hours this year together learning, building relationships, and striving academically and emotionally to achieve.

Whether you like it or not, the decor, style and level of classroom decoration you display is a reflection of you as a teacher, your personality, and a great launchpad to build credibility with parents and students.  

If your students and parents can see your passion,creativity, and ability to manage a classroom respect and credibility is far more easily earned.

Let’s examine some Classroom Decoration Ideas that actually make a difference, and are simple to implement in any style or physical space.

Classroom Door Decoration Ideas

It’s pretty obvious really, but so many teachers overlook their classroom door as a place to  make your first impression with students and parents. Make sure it says “Welcome” above all else, and acknowledge your students as both individuals and members of a team as demonstrated in some of the examples below.

Avoid placing negative or overly authoritarian items on your door, whilst also ensuring it doesn’t look like the entrance to Disneyland.  This door is the entrance to a place to collaborate, create and cooperate together, and above all a place to work. Don’t create a false impression by plastering your door in decoration that screams “We’re all about fun.”

The back of your door  is an excellent place to reinforce important concepts to students about behavior, personal management and organisation.  Students will see these and change hats appropriately as they switch from student to a kid that wants to enjoy their friends in the playground.

Students of all ages will appreciate this aquatic entrance to their classroom

Students of all ages will appreciate this aquatic entrance to their classroom

It’s been done before but it certainly works. You can create this yourself or buy them from places such as  teacherspayteachers.com

It’s been done before but it certainly works. You can create this yourself or buy them from places such as teacherspayteachers.com

Christmas comes to chemistry class. Fun, Easy to create and still educational.

Christmas comes to chemistry class. Fun, Easy to create and still educational.

This door sets expectations, and is welcoming simultaneously.

This door sets expectations, and is welcoming simultaneously.

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Storage and organization Classroom Decoration Ideas

It amazes teachers on the first and last day of school just how large their classrooms are when students are gone, and furniture is pushed up against the walls in preparation for the holidays.  

When twenty something students walk through the door it shrinks dramatically, so storage space and management of your classroom is a really important factor of classroom decoration to get right.

It’s a delicate balancing act.  Whilst minimalism and efficiency is “on-trend” with adults it’s not so impressive to a six year old.  

No matter what path you follow remember to clearly label things with either text or images so that your students never have an excuse for not putting things back where they belong.

Take a look at some of the images below for classroom storage solutions to see if they appeal to you in terms of functionality and aesthetics.

Modular storage from Ikea is cheap and hardy. It looks great also.

Modular storage from Ikea is cheap and hardy. It looks great also.

Knock them out with color and labels

Knock them out with color and labels

Storage can also be seating

Storage can also be seating

Technology can be a struggle to store and charge at times

Technology can be a struggle to store and charge at times

Use your classroom corners as “Great Escape Spaces.”

Regardless of whether you’re teaching in a shared, open plan, or traditional single room classroom you are likely to have a corner that could benefit from an educational ‘makeover.’

Classroom corners can become any number of things to suit you and your students needs so long as you capitalize on the fact they are a place for students to escape the masses and retreat into their own head space.

As such they are best used for self directed individual or small group activities requiring little interaction or input from you the teacher, or distractions from other students.

Reading corners are common in most primary / elementary classrooms. To maximize learning opportunities here ensure your students cannot easily see what others are doing when they are seated reading.  If you surround this space with soft furnishings it will also dampen the external noise.

Your classroom corners are a great space to clearly display some large excellent visuals reinforcing the key learning concepts you expect of your students in this space.  Posters, charts, and exemplary work is a great thing to display and fosters independent learning leaving you to focus on working in other parts of your classroom.

One final note to consider when creating a classroom corners is not to simultaneously build a ‘hideout’ space in which students know they can misbehave or dodge work without surveillance.  Always ensure you, as the tallest person in the room can quickly and easily see what your students are doing at all times.

Forest reading corners are always appealing

Forest reading corners are always appealing

what child wouldn’t cherish spending time in here?

what child wouldn’t cherish spending time in here?

simple but effective reading corner

simple but effective reading corner

plenty of seating variation

plenty of seating variation

Classroom Themes

Classroom themes can be both a blessing and a curse you might want to consider as the year progresses. 

Whilst large portions of your classroom dedicated to back to school, summer, book week, Space, Harry Potter and so on may look great, they can also pretty quickly become irrelevant and dated.

If you are not a manic workaholic ( like most teachers are ) but you still want a dynamic classroom that changes like a chameleon just select a single wall or space you know you can repeatedly and quickly tear down and “flip” to suit the times and needs of your students.  

This leaves you the bulk of your classroom organized and structured for the remainder of the year with minimal fuss and interruption.

space is always a popular classroom theme

space is always a popular classroom theme

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Harry potter theme space

Harry potter theme space

welcome to TOMORROW LAND

welcome to TOMORROW LAND

Classroom decoration ideas on a budget

As we well know most teachers are not millionaires, but they are very highly innovative, and industrious when it comes to getting a lot from a little.

Take a look below at how teachers have taken some bargain bin products and turned them into a goldmine of teaching and learning opportunities in their classrooms.

Most of these items can be easily located and are durable enough to get many good years of use from.

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Make sure your classroom decoration “celebrates” learning above all else.

No matter what your style, or level of commitment to classroom decoration ensure you celebrate learning.

  • Showcase work from ALL students that celebrates GROWTH which can be acknowledged by you, parents, and students.

  • Ensure your classroom decoration sets expectations. Providing examples and statements that reinforce what you value as a teacher and what you expect of your students.

  • If possible display your students growth.  This can either be a before and after decoration, or a graph or chart demonstrating how your CLASS has improved at a specific area throughout the year. 

    Try to avoid putting anything that individually pinpoints, or compares one student to another. Emphasize the fact your class are a team and you celebrate the success as a team.  You will have parent teacher interviews and plenty of other opportunities to address student needs at an individual level. 

I would also emphasize the need to let your students take ownership of your classroom decoration where possible.  If you need a poster about recycling get your students to create them as opposed to just buying them.  

Let your students create their own classroom rules (under your guidance of course.) and ask your students for input in creating classroom decorations.

All this input will give them a greater sense of pride and buy-in to their classroom and you as their teacher.

Finally - If you trawl Instagram and Pinterest for classroom decoration ideas you can quickly feel very inadequate as a teacher. It may appear that classroom decoration has almost become a competitive sport fought out on social media.

Just create a space that you and your students feel positive about sharing, and hopefully lifts your spirits a little on a day that just didn’t seem to start out right at home for whatever reason.

I am confident you can take away one or two of these ideas and as always don’t forget to share your thoughts and inspiration in the comment section below.

How to build and outdoor classroom at your school

We often think of a classroom as essentially... A room.  But there are days when mother nature offers far more enriching learning opportunities in the open.

And the effort and expense to build one of these in your school is minimal.  It is really surprising to think that every school doesn't have one when you consider the opportunities it offers students and teachers to break the mold every now and then.

I came a across these simple plans from kaboom that outlines one idea but I am sure that you could adapt this to suit your needs.  You can download them here.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has had any experience in this field and could share their insights. 

Simple to make Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Jars

The spooky season is almost upon us, and these Jack-O-Lantern Jars are a fantastic way to decorate your classroom for Halloween.  The kids will love customizing their own designs and watching them glow in the darkness of the night.  With a few simple materials you can add a special spooky glow to your Halloween night!

For additional Halloween craft ideas, check out the Halloween Express ultimate guide for Halloween crafts.

Another great idea from Belinda

What you will need...An assortment of jars, coloured tissue paper, PVA glue (or  a glue which will dry clear), a paint brush, scissors, black paper, tea lights or LED candles.


Step One...Choose one of your tissue paper colours and cut out some strips.  For the pumpkin jar I used about 8 strips (2 x 10cm).  Of course the amount needed will depend on the size of the jar.

Step Two...Grab your strips, jar, glue and paint brush and prepare to stick your tissue paper in place.

Step Three...Cover your jar with PVA glue, and start sticking your strips on, as you cover your jar you will need to continue to add glue to ensure the overlapped pieces stick.


Step Four...Once you have completely covered your jar with tissue paper coat with another layer of glue.  Tip...Be sure to only have one to two layers of tissue paper on your jar, too many layers and you will loose the glow effect.

Step Five...Take your black paper and cut out a design to fit your jar...be creative!

Step Six...Glue your black paper design onto your jar and apply another coat of glue over the top of the black paper to ensure it stays stuck down and to give it a shiny appearance.

Step Seven...Carefully insert your tea light or LED candle to see the full effect of your Halloween creation.  Remember to always treat fire with caution!

The most fun way to teach computer science to kids

Computer Science Unplugged is my find of the week.  It houses a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through innovative games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of fun and action.

CS unplugged introduce students to underlying concepts such as binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the distractions and technical details we usually see with computers.

CS Unplugged is suitable for people of all ages, from elementary school to seniors, and from many countries and backgrounds. Unplugged has been used around the world for over twenty years, in classrooms, science centers, homes, and even for holiday events in a park!

Check out the video to see how it can be used in the classroom.  And be sure to download the excellent lesson plan booklet.       Click here to access


Name games for teachers and students

I will be the first to admit that I am terrible with learning people's names and find it difficult to find strategies that are effective.  Give these three simple games a go with your students and you'll all be on  a first name basis in no time.  Once again thanks to Michael Ramiko for submitting these three games in to make this process a little easier.

The small difference

On the board draw a seating plan of the room and get the class to copy it. Each learner round the room then says their name and everyone else writes it down at the correct place on their plan. Ask the class to study the names for 2 minutes, then put their plans away. Ask your first volunteer to leave the room - and while they're out, two other learners change places. When the volunteer comes back he /she must notice and name both students that have moved. Repeat the game a few times with different volunteers. After a few turns, make the game more difficult by changing two pairs at a time.   

Put up a mixed-up spelling of your own first name on the board - e.g. I might put up "Mij". Now, ask them to write an anagram of their own name. Collect these in and write them all up on the board. Every student now tries to write down all the original names. When finished they can check by walking round the room, meeting people and finding out if they have each person's name correctly.

People bingo

Each learner draws a large 3 by 3 grid (i.e. 9 squares). Slowly read through all the names on the register (spelling difficult names). Learners must randomly select 9 of these names (of people they don't already know) to write into spaces on their grid. When everyone has a full grid the learners walk around the room, find their nine people, chat a little and make some notes about each person. Afterwards, play "bingo" by calling out names randomly - students tick a name if they have it on their own grid. For each name ask the class to indicate who the person is and tell you some things about the person. When someone completes their grid with nine ticks - they win. (But you could always play it again!)

Spy

Prepare a set of small cards - one for each learner. On three quarters write "true"; on the others write "false". Distribute them; students must not let others see their card. Learners then stand up and mingle, meeting people and talking. When asked questions, anyone with a "true" card must give true answers; anyone with a "false" card must lie (except about their name), inventing false life stories. Afterwards, form small groups of 4 - 6 people. Each group should try to work out who was "true" and who "false", writing a list identifying all suspected "false" people. Finish up with a whole-class stage when the lists are read out and the truth is revealed. Groups get 3 points for each "false" person correctly spotted - but minus 3 for anyone incorrectly identified.

Simple but effective icebreakers to start the school year.

Although you may be a new teacher to a group of students, most of them have already worked together for years and know each other all too well. The new teacher may be the only one who needs to learn names. And, even if the teacher and class have all worked together before, there may still be a need for some activities to welcome everyone back and mark the start of the new year.  Here are a few that might be useful. 

Be sure to check out our list of ten great activities to break the ice for more ideas

Fibbing to the teacher
When a teacher is new to a class that already know each other, try this game. In groups of 5 or 6, the students should carefully prepare to introduce members of their group to the teacher. Everyone should introduce another person (not themselves). They should say names and something about their interests, home area, personality etc. All the information must be true except for one person in each group – for whom every single thing must be untrue. Allow plenty of time for careful preparation, after which the teacher should listen to all a group’s introductions (while learning useful names etc) and decide which is the untrue one. Warn all students that they must be careful not to give away the fib by laughing, sniggering etc.

The virtual party
Arrange an imaginary “welcome back” party. Ask everyone to stand in one part of the room. Designate another section of the room as the party room and show them where the front door is. Appoint a host / hostess or two and brief them on how to welcome guests. Be a host yourself too. Then encourage students to “arrive” at the party one by one, or in small groups, (ringing the imaginary door bell) and once there, mingle, chatting in English, catching up on news. Serve imaginary drinks and snacks. Students initially tend to react to this simulation with some suspicion (feeling it is a bit silly to hold imaginary drinks etc) but it usually takes off very well once they get into it.

Setting year goals
It is all too easy to simply launch into teaching from a new coursebook assuming that the class is automatically with you. However it is worth taking time to make sure that students are really clear about why they are learning and about what they want to get out of it. A simple way to do this is to ask them to make brief notes in answer to questions you ask. Make sure you allow enough thinking time. Students can then meet up in pairs or threes and compare thoughts. Possible questions: Why do you think English will be useful to you in the future? What is the most important area you want to improve on this year? What types of activities do you enjoy most in English classes? What advice would you give to your English teacher? What do you want to be able to do by the end of the year that you can’t do now?

Thanks for Michael Ramiko for submitting these ideas.  We'd love to hear some of yours.

How to teach equivalent fractions to elementary students

Equivalent fractions are fractions that represent the same value or fractions that represent the same part of an object.  Using various examples, this unit will assist students in grasping the concept of equivalent fractions. Pictures and diagrams are included that will greatly enhance
understanding to your students.

Please use the slideshow above to assist you in teaching equivalent fractions

This lesson was submitted by Piyush Bhakar - If you wish to sell us your lesson plans take a look here.


Topics covered in the given unit are:

  • Definition
  • How to find equivalent fraction
  • Methods to find out equivalent fractions
  • Examples
  • Comparison of equivalent fractions

Climate Change Scavenger Hunt task for students

Purpose : At the end of this ‘scavenger hunt on climate’ students will be able to learn about the vocabulary of climate and science behind it.  It is aimed at students from years 4 to 9.

This scavenger hunt introduces to students information and basics about the Climate, its various zones and factors affecting the climate.  There are 24 scavenger hunt cards with colorful pictures. 

It’s a great tool to explore vocabulary around Climate.

This lesson was submitted by Piyush Bhakar - If you wish to sell us your lesson plans take a look here.

 Instructions -

1.  Download the free lesson plan here.

2. Print the given all 24 cards on a card stock or any other good paper and cut them along the black line.

 3. Get the print of Climate Scavenger Hunt questions pages and each student should be given this copy.

 4. Place Climate Scavenger Hunt cards around the classroom. For example you can place it on chair, on table, on benches, behind the classroom doors, besides the computer or wherever you like.

 5. Students have to search the cards in a classroom in order to find out the answers of the questions. Students can complete this exercise in a group with classmate or alone.