14 Ways to Brighten Your Classroom During the Dreary Winter Months

When the forecast calls for GLOOM…

Winter Classroom Decorations

In many parts of the world, winter not only means cold and snow, but day after day without sunshine. These are the endless days when everything seems a little darker and a little harder. But take heart! We asked teachers how they bring sunshine to their students on dull winter days, and they suggested these cheery classroom decorations and ideas. Read on and be inspired!

At WeAreTeachers, our editors are constantly looking for new and great things for the classroom. When we make recommendations, we occasionally use affiliate links, which means we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

1. Let your lights shine.

Winter Classroom Decorations

Credit: Jalen McKee-Rodriguez/Facebook

Teachers love string lights as classroom decorations! They add cheer to dim corners that the sun just can’t reach. Here are a few worth trying:

  • Color Changing Globe Lights: This set has 8 colors that can be changed with the click of a remote, setting a different mood in an instant.
  • Twinkle Star Lights: Up above the classroom so high, like little diamonds in the sky!
  • Photo String Lights: The light-up clips on this string will highlight the photos or star assignments you hang.

2. Fill the room with plants.

Outdoors, the leaves may be gone and the grass may be brown (or covered in snow). Indoors, you can have a thriving year-round garden! Check out the 5 Best Plants for Your Classroom, guaranteed to succeed even if you have a brown thumb. Still too much trouble? Pick up a cheap bouquet of flowers at the grocery store once a week and keep them on your desk.

3. Project a soothing scene.

Winter Classroom Decorations

Use your classroom projector to show a scene that sets a cozy or cheerful tone. Netflix’s Fireplace For Your Home is a popular choice (you can also buy the DVD on Amazon). Other teachers like relaxing nature videos with no narration or music, just the sweet sounds of the outdoors. Check out more great classroom screensavers here.

4. Go all out with your bulletin boards.

Bulletin boards are classic classroom decorations, and the possibilities are endless. This is the time of year to really let your creativity run free. Think lots of color, interesting textures, 3-D designs, and interactive features. Consider making it a classroom project; create a bulletin board together that makes your classroom bright and fun!

5. Hang some winter crafts.

Dangle paper snowflakes from the ceiling. Fill your walls with snow paint snowmen and winter tree silhouettes. Build a classroom igloo from milk jugs. Winter craft projects make terrific classroom decorations! Find all these ideas and a whole lot more here.

6. Decorate your windows.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have windows, chances are good the view isn’t great in wintertime. Fill them with color instead! Hang craft projects or design other classroom decorations to make your windows bright, no matter the season.

7. Put up fake windows.

No windows? No problem! These window decals peel and stick just about anywhere, including those seemingly unconquerable cement walls. Try a beach seascape, a calming mountain lake, or a beautiful view of Paris

8. Hang pretty prisms.

Winter Classroom Decorations

Dangle sparkling prisms where they’ll catch direct light and cast rainbows around your room. This is classroom decoration and science lesson, all wrapped up in one! Grab this set from Amazon here.

9. Add some fragrance.

When the windows haven’t been opened in months, your classroom might start to smell a bit musty. Light, cozy fragrances can make a big difference—think vanilla, cinnamon, or mint. Invest in an essential oil diffuser, like this popular model, or try a wax tart warmer. Just make sure your students don’t have any adverse reactions to fragrances before you try this one. For a cheap, easy solution, peel an orange for a mid-morning snack. The fragrance will linger all day!

10. Disguise fluorescent lights.

Winter Classroom Decorations

Soften the glare of overhead fluorescent lights with specially-designed filters. They’re safe to use and can make a big difference fast. Get a set of three light filter panels like the ones shown above for less than $25. These cloud-covered panels are a little pricier, but might be worth the splurge!

11. Roll out flexible seating.

This is the time of year to try something new. Flexible seating gives a sense of comfort and freedom that’s often lacking when winter keeps you cooped up indoors. Here are our are favorite flexible seating options.

12. Install a reading nook.

Winter Classroom Decorations

Dreary winter days are a great time for curling up with a good book. Add a place in your classroom that kids can take turns using to get cozy and read, read, read!

13. Mix things up.

No time or money for new classroom decorations? Try switching up what you already have. Move the desks or tables around. Do things in a different order. Start a new morning routine, or add something fun to the middle of each day. Dig around in your cupboards and bring out something you haven’t used in ages. Life (and your classroom) is what you make of it!

14. Show your smiling face.

Don’t underestimate your own importance in creating a cheerful classroom! Tell them a cheesy joke. Wear a crazy dress. Introduce them to mindfulness. Above all, let them know you care. All the colorful decorations in the world can’t match up with a teacher who seems truly happy to see their students each and every day. 

Love feeling cozy? Check out this list of 13 Ways to Bring Hygge to Your Classroom.

If these ideas inspired you, join our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group and come talk with the very teachers who suggested them!

14 Ways to Brighten Your Classroom During the Dreary Winter Months

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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