Gone are the days of keeping the same bulletin boards up all year or all season. Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram have set the bar high for what we expect from classroom decor. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be efficient and streamline our design efforts. Use these secrets to easily create fun and awesome bulletin boards every time.
Secret 1: You Don’t Need a Theme.
I don’t know when classroom themes got so completely out of hand. But if Facebook is to be believed, teachers now spend all summer picking color schemes, fonts, and coordinating name tags.
Straight talk, though: No one needs a theme for their classroom decor. Sure, you can run around to all the Michaels and Targets in the county looking for 26 Quidditch brooms, but you really don’t have to. Truly. Save your energy for the hard work of planning and, you know, teaching. Plus, as my colleague is fond of pointing out: The theme is always school!
Secret 2: Keep It Simple (and Classic).
My first year in a classroom, my mentor teacher, who also has a background in graphic design, taught me the best trick ever to keep my classroom looking neat and cohesive: Use only white fadeless paper and then add a single, solid-color border on all the boards. Like white subway tile, these simple choices make the room feel bigger and less visually cluttered.
White fadeless paper keeps the focus on student work, especially if the projects feature bright colors. Think of how museums display artwork, often using blank white walls and simple frames to showcase their masterpieces.
Using the same solid-color borders on each board brings the room together and looking profesh. I’ve always used navy blue, but you can use red, green, yellow—whatever color you like. The same borders throughout, like the white background paper, lets the students’ projects shine. Plus, you only have to buy one color!
Step 3: Carefully Choose Student Work.
Take care to only hang student work that took time and thought to complete. I’m talking about the types of projects that take more than one class period for students to finish, such as the final draft of a writing assignment or a multi-step project. It’s noticeable to visitors, and even the students themselves, when that level of care goes into work.
It’s also important to think about the students who struggle with handwriting or written output when displaying student work, as their projects can stand out in comparison to that of their peers. I give these students the option to use a word processor, or I offer to serve as their scribe, so all students feel they are putting their best effort on display.
Secret 4: Keep Things In Line.
Take care to hang student work in neat vertical or horizontal lines. Our eyes are naturally drawn to things that are off-center or even an inch out of place. Placing student work in straight lines makes bulletin boards look polished and well thought-out. This rule also applies to alphabets and other posters you might hang around the classroom.
Secret 5: Die-Cut Letters Are Never Worth the Hassle.
Save time and cut down on clutter by skipping the die-cut letters altogether. Just think about all those plastic bags of letters you have saved from year to year, only to never use them again. Sure, I might use, “We Fit Together in Fourth Grade” next year, but even one missing or torn letter can end with me in tears, struggling with our school’s die-cut machine.
Instead of losing an entire prep period on die-cut letters, type up a small sign on a regular sheet of printer paper that clearly explains the project to visitors. Hang a new project every six weeks. Rinse and repeat,
Do you have any other advice around creating easy bulletin boards? Please share in the comments. We’d love to hear your ideas.