Back to School Bulletin Boards

Most of us try very hard to make our home appear inviting to guests.  Shouldn’t we strive for the same in our classrooms?  As the school year begins, I want to challenge each of you to think of new and creative ways to make your classroom more inviting to students.  We all know that it begins with a warm smile as you greet them at the door, but what is the appearance of the classroom as they enter? 

Creative bulletin boards can be time-consuming, money-consuming, but hopefully purposeful.  This large space on your wall may very well be the first thing that catches the eyes of your students as they find their seats.  What does your bulletin board say about you and what they might expect from your class?  Is last year’s board still up and dusty or have you spent your summer designing a fresh new look for your second home?

There are many different sites online offering bulletin board ideas and of course the best ones are submitted by teachers like ourselves.  If you are an elementary teacher you may feel it is expected that you have a spectacular bulletin board that is updated often-colorful and eye-catching to your young students.  Many of us who have spent the bulk of our time in the secondary world can easily slip into a slump when it comes to our classroom décor, but we should also take the time to utilize that space in a meaningful yet fun way.  Forget about the traditional bulletin boards with their base colors formed by a large ream of solid colored paper!  Here are a few ideas I like for bulletin board backgrounds:

*Newspapers!  What a great way to springboard the occasional current event discussion.

*Wallpaper!  You can find last season or discontinued styles at a fraction of the usual cost.

*Photographs!  Perhaps you have fun photographs of activities from your class the previous year(s).

*Old text or encyclopedia pages.

*Tablecloths can be fun and funky and make a nice bulletin board background.

*If you are particularly artistic, a cool look that secondary students seem to like is black butcher paper-then decorate with pastel chalks (use hairspray to set the message/drawings you create).

So you have your background planned, but what to put on top of it? 

Let your personality shine and decide if you are going for something simply fun or if you are connecting this particular board to your first unit or lessons of study.  Students can help!  Your bulletin board creation may be a first assignment.  Perhaps you will ask them to bring in photographs or newspaper blurbs about people in the news at the moment and decorate your board with these items.  Another neat idea for US History classes is to give students construction paper (determine based on your space available how many sheets of red, white and blue you need to create an American flag).  Challenge them to skim through their student edition or online text for something they are most interested in learning about and then draw, trace, print a picture from that period in history or event.  They could even write a blurb beneath the drawing to indicate what their image is about.  Arrange these on your bulletin board in the shape of a flag and you have a creative board that students played a role in that can be left up for quite some time and referenced as you study the events they have chosen to highlight.

What great back to school boards have you seen or used in your classroom?  Is there value in creating a visually appealing board for secondary students as well?  We think so, but what are your thoughts?

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