The way you set up and decorate your classroom can set the tone for how your year will go. While you room decorations won’t necessarily ‘teach’ anything to your students, they play a huge part in creating a welcoming learning environment where students feel like an integral part of the class. Helping students feel comfortable and welcome in your classroom most certainly can have an impact on their learning and achievement. Students who feel like they belong are more likely to participate and take risks, and this is when the learning will occur.
Now, the challenging part starts: just how should you decorate your classroom? How much should you do on your own before the students first walk in? How involved should your students be in decorating their own classroom? Answering these questions and finding the right balance isn’t easy. And, truthfully, there likely isn’t one right answer. The age of your students, the subject(s) you teach, and so many other factors may impact your decision.
You can only become a better teacher when you collaborate with others and hear new ideas. This is why I put together this article. I wanted to share some tips from expert teachers that may help you decide how you want to decorate your own classroom. Each expert was asked the same question:
How do you decorate your classroom?
- Do you prefer buying decorations or do it yourself?
- Do your students help you with decorating?
- Do your decorations depend on a season/ holiday?
And what they said:
- “I think it is hugely important to relate what they learn in my classroom with what is happening in the real world” — Paul Stevens-Fulbrook
- “I pick 2-3 colors and run with that for everything” — Angela Gatt
- “I have found that it is very important that classroom decorations be simple and serve a purpose” — Karla Banks
- “I ask the students to help me fill in the rest. I want them to have ownership in the room” — Heather Fergen
- “Each year, I have students pick their favorite books, then create posters that must “sell” the book” — Michelle Waters
- “When it comes to decorating, I prefer a “less is more” approach” — Kelly Jackson
- “It is important to allow students to have a sense of ownership over the space” — Nicholas Provenzano
- “Yes, it’s great if our rooms are cute and fun, but it’s more important that we be strategic in how we set things up so we can maximize our efficiency” — Linda Kardamis
- “When decorating my room, I look for ways to simplify my work for the rest of the year” — Emily Ross
Take a few minutes to read through the answers they shared. You just may find a few tips that will resonate with you and help you in your quest of decorating your classroom to create a warm and welcoming environment that will help your students learn and grow.
“I think it is hugely important to relate what they learn in my classroom with what is happening in the real world”
As a Science teacher, I have to cover some quite conceptual topics that can be difficult to explain with words alone. To combat this I like to decorate some of my classroom wall space with large diagrams or murals that help explain these ideas, as well as some key concepts (cell structure, states of matter etc.) that my students can refer to while they work for a reminder.
I also use some of my space to show examples of good work (either prepared by me or actual student work), again, that my students can use as a pro forma for their own work. I also always have a small area with Science news articles from various publications or newspapers, I think it is hugely important to relate what they learn in my classroom with what is happening in the real world.
I update all but the key concepts regularly to keep things fresh and make my classroom an interesting environment. I don’t decorate my classroom with seasonal holiday decorations, as I feel it detracts from the learning (I’m not a scrooge though, I do celebrate the holidays in different ways with my students!).
The founder of TeacherOfSci. High school science teacher, head of KS3 Science (year/grade 7-8), trainee teacher mentor and education blogger.
“I pick 2-3 colours and run with that for everything”
I like to decorate my classroom with a theme. I pick 2-3 colours and run with that for everything. My bulletin boards are all covered in the same paper (or fabric!) colours with matching border trim on each one. I find this gives the room a cohesive look and is less visually stimulating. For this same reason I prefer to make as much of my decor as possible so it’s all consistent. I only hang items that are meaningful to our leaning. If it’s not visual support, it doesn’t go up.
The founder of Fun in Fourth. Angela is a fourth-grade teacher in British Columbia, Canada and a teacher author.
“I have found that it is very important that classroom decorations be simple and serve a purpose”
When I decorate my classroom, I focus on a few colors. When the classroom has too many decorations, it can be distracting for many students. I love using calming colors in my classroom. I have found that it is very important that classroom decorations be simple and serve a purpose.
I like to have students help me create anchor charts to decorate the room. They can refer back to the anchor charts which helps them answer their own questions which allows me to help students who are really struggling with the content. Here are some examples of the anchor charts I have had the kids help me create:
The founder of One Room Schoolhouse. Began teaching in 1999 and taught a k-5 pull-out program for 5 years. Then moved to a self-contained k-5 class.
“I ask the students to help me fill in the rest. I want them to have ownership in the room”
Classroom decor is always something I’ve kept very simple. I do the basics before the school year arrives, and then I ask the students to help me fill in the rest. I want them to have ownership in the room. I want it to feel like their own.
Yes, I love looking at the elaborate rooms on Pinterest and Instagram, but I know that’s just not me. Simple. Easy. Done.
We typically switch things out seasonally, but it just depends on time and what our lesson plans look like. I’m all for even hanging student work that they are proud of! It doesn’t always have to be art. My students have never complained, and they’ve actually been quite excited to get to help!
The founder of Hojo’s Teaching Adventures. Experienced teacher, K-6 principal at two elementary buildings and the K-12 direct Special Education Director and now a work at home mama.
“Each year, I have students pick their favorite books, then create posters that must “sell” the book”
I like to use student-designed book posters to decorate my classroom. Each year, I have students pick their favorite books, then create posters that must “sell” the book. They have to include a visual along with the book title and author, a quote from the book, and their own review of the books. We look at movie posters for inspiration. You know, I should write a blog post on this topic, too!
The founder of reThink ELA. 10th year English teacher in the Oklahoma City area, author.
“When it comes to decorating, I prefer a “less is more” approach”
When it comes to decorating, I prefer a “less is more” approach. Classroom Organization is really important to creating a safe and welcoming space. Part of creating an organized classroom means limiting clutter, including visual clutter. I recommend teachers start off the school year with pretty bare walls because as the year progresses, student work and anchor charts will take up that wall space.
I do think decorating is important to creating an inviting classroom so creating unity in the classroom decor is simple by choosing one or two colors to stick with as your “theme.” Blues and greens are more calming and less distracting than yells/oranges/reds. When it comes to baskets and bins that will be on display in your classroom, use these as part of your decor strategy and choose neutral colors and boxes/bins that match. Again, this will reduce that visual clutter.
As far as decorating for holidays, I think that is fun! So I say “YES!” Just be sure to be mindful of the religions represented in your classroom and don’t go overboard. Again, less is more
The founder of The Simply Organized Teacher. Kelly helps busy and overwhelmed teachers create organized classrooms
“It is important to allow students to have a sense of ownership over the space”
It is important to allow students to have a sense of ownership over the space and that can be done by allowing them to decorate the room with their work. I encourage students who are taking art classes or just love to create art to hang things around the classroom. Sometimes, students who are not even in my class will have work in the classroom. When we have art fairs, I will purchase student work and hang it in the classroom. It is easier to just decide to hang a bunch of inspirational posters all over the classroom, but that really doesn’t do much for the students. A kitten hanging onto a clothesline is not going to inspire work. Seeing student work, and possibly their work, adorn the walls of their learning space can inspire them to work a little harder or, at the very least, feel a sense of pride that their work is up for all to see.
The founder of The Nerdy Teacher. Nicholas is an award-winning educator (ISTE and MACUL Teacher of the Year) and best selling author who has travelled the world promoting best practices in education.
“Yes, it’s great if our rooms are cute and fun, but it’s more important that we be strategic in how we set things up so we can maximize our efficiency”
What we need to focus on most in creating our classroom is functionality. Yes, it’s great if our rooms are cute and fun, but it’s more important that we be strategic in how we set things up so we can maximize our efficiency. You want to make sure you have a station for you with everything you need and in/out bins for students to turn work in and to pass work back.
Some other things that can be helpful to students are having sample tests posted, absence folders, classes you teach posted on the door (for secondary), a place to consistently post start-of-class assignments, somewhere to post homework, and to-do lists.
As for decor, if you enjoy decorating your room to the nines and you have time, then go for it. But if you’re getting overwhelmed (or it’s just not in your wheelhouse), all you need to do is create a warm learning environment for your students. The easiest way is to simply put up motivational or instructional posters throughout your room.
The founder of Teach 4 the Heart. Linda provides her readers with practical advice and Biblical encouragement to help them excel and thrive in this wonderful adventure of teaching.
“When decorating my room, I look for ways to simplify my work for the rest of the year”
I prefer to mostly purchase the decorations for my room. This makes it easier to stick to a theme and helps me reduce the amount of time I spend preparing to decorate the room. There are lots of excellent theme-based sets available online or at teacher stores. I’ve been able to find something to match pretty much any theme or décor idea I’ve had.
When decorating my room, I look for ways to simplify my work for the rest of the year. For example, I try to use more neutral bulletin board backgrounds and borders that could be reused throughout the year. This saves me from having to completely change the bulletin board when I update my decorations. I’ve also become a fan of using fabric, instead of butcher paper, for my bulletin boards. The fabric doesn’t fade like the butcher paper does and will continue looking great all year long.
I love involving my students in decorating the classroom! After all, it is their classroom too, and I want them to feel like they had a part in setting it up. I try to do some of the more basic and tedious tasks without the students, such as putting up the bulletin board backgrounds and borders and then get them to help me finalize the décor.
One way I involve my students in decorating our room is to have them draw some pictures that match the current theme. This way, not only do we have some artwork on our walls, but my students can see their contribution to our classroom space every day.
My decorations are usually related to the current season or upcoming holiday. This helps me make sure that I’m updating my classroom decorations regularly to give the students something new and exciting to look at in our classroom. I’ve also noticed that my students like having seasonal decorations in our room. They always ask me how I’ll decorate the room when we are getting close to the next holiday or season.
The founder of MyTechClassroom. An elementary school teacher. She has been a teacher for 6 years.
Classroom décor is so much more than making your room ‘pretty.’ It allows you to create a backdrop for the learning that will occur in your room and helps you set the tone for your classroom. I know I learned a lot reading the decorating advice our experts shared; hopefully, you did too. Now, take a few minutes to re-read the tips that were shared and select a few that you think you’d like to implement in your classroom!
I’d like to thank all experts for their contibution! It was amazing experience of working together. I discovered many people who are obsessed with education and they inspire me a lot! And I believe — creativity is an essential part of educating
Have something to share and you’d lile to cotribute to this post? Feel free to send me your tips using the contact form here. I’ll gladly add you here 👩🏫 👨🏫
Last Updated on January 19, 2021 by Emily