50 Classroom Decorations, Ideas and Themes
Running a classroom is a lot of work! Setting the scene with thoughtful décor can create an environment that inspires and motivates students to learn. The trick is to not spend a ton of money or time on it. Here are 50 creative classroom decoration ideas and themes you can use for years to come!
Use What You Have
- Student Work Display - For this one, consider planning creative assignments that bring out the individuality of the students and let them know you plan to display their work. You may be amazed at how much harder they work and how much of themselves they’ll reveal in these projects.
- Wall Murals - Use the talents of budding student artists and ask them to design a wall mural on chart paper. They can work on this when they finish another assignment and have class time to spare. You may even find students who quietly doodle that don’t volunteer — ask them to join the mural team! Many students are just looking for someone to notice something special in them.
- Newspapers - Don’t throw these away! Use them to wallpaper a wall and let the students enjoy reading them when they are staring off into space. Chances are pretty good that somebody in your family or neighborhood reads the daily paper and just recycles them. Have them bag them up for you to reuse in your classroom. Just scan the page to make sure you’re not posting anything that could be upsetting for students.
- Great Books - Whether you focus on the classics and the wall doesn’t change or you regularly print out and update the wall with the newest releases and New York Times Best Sellers, this will be one wall that your bookworms will love.
- Author Spotlight - Choose an author to focus on and change them out each month or quarter. The author can be someone relevant to what you study, perhaps even the author of a book you are reading, and the wall can be used to share members of their family, their life timeline, accomplishments, failures, famous quotes and fun facts. But, don’t feel you have to do the work alone. The first day you study the new author in class, allow students to drum up some of the work for you! They’ll have a blast adding their contributions to the wall.
- Powerful Vocabulary - Whatever you are studying, there must be some powerful words that your students should know and use! Add them to a giant Word Wall. Every time a student uses a word from the wall, have a special cheer or funny thing the class does. This will create an inside joke for you and your students that everyone will want to get in on.
- Important Facts - Students have a lot to think about. Consider displaying key facts that they need to remember for your subject. For English, this could be grammatical functions. For science, it could be the rules for doing experiments. Make them big and bold and commend yourself for creating wall art that will do part of your job for you.
- Monthly School Spotlight - Each month or quarter, pick a different area of the school to spotlight. For example, you could share about a special club and include photos of them in action, information, meeting times and some fun facts on key members. Or, you could focus on a particular sport for a season, highlight the drama department’s lead actors and upcoming plays or interview different staff members on campus. Use this wall to celebrate the wonderful school body you are a part of.
- Interactive Experience Wall - Put up a giant felt wall and let students cut out little felt characters that they decorate to look like themselves. Design sets that the students can be featured in and as the units roll on, add little details to show the student characters engaging in the different activities. Allow students to interact with the wall as well, just be sure to check it regularly for appropriate behavior.
- Student’s Choice Each Quarter - Give your students the opportunity to decide! This will flex their growing desire to practice autonomy, while simultaneously taking the creative pressure off of you. Win-win! If they’re struggling for ideas, pull five different ideas from this list and give students a survey. Then, incorporate them in actually making the wall come to life. Don’t forget participation points for all their hard work!
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- Dollar Store Decor - Have you ever checked the local dollar store for school supplies? In the summertime and first few months of the school year, they are a rich resource for vibrant, affordable classroom decor. From wall chart trims to baskets for tables, you can grab a wide variety of items that fit within your teacher budget. Just remember to stock up for the whole year, as they only stock these supplies during the beginning of the school year.
- Trade Work - What about trading special projects with another teacher? You’ll both get double the wall coverage without extra projects to grade, plus students will get to be inspired by work done by the students in other classes. Kids are competitive and trading work will often motivate them to work even harder.
- Class Photos - Pick up a cheap instant camera or print out pictures you snap of the class in action. Add them to the wall over time and students will rush over to see who is featured in the latest updates. You can even ask students to help and they will love you for letting them use their favorite devices to commemorate classroom moments.
- Group Projects - Put those kids to work...in groups! Let them know the group projects will be featured on the group project wall (so they must be flat), and let them get to work. You’ll be amazed at what students will create when they work with their peers.
- Special Features - Find a subject matter feature that you update every month or quarter or even more often. This should be specific to your subject and what your grade level is studying. Examples are images, charts and elements of science you are studying or memorabilia from a historical era you are covering in history.
- Black and White Photos - We live in a world of heightened color, so sometimes simpler is better and allows our brains to relax and focus. Consider printing out black and white photos to create a modern-looking wall. These could be of simple landscapes, peaceful backgrounds, inspiring historical characters or modern-day heroes. Pick a theme for that season and stick with it. Switch it out for something else when you need a wall refresh.
- Inspirational Quotes - Such an easy one! If you use a quote of the day, just print it out and stick it on the wall. If this isn’t part of your daily curriculum, check out our list of inspirational school quotes. Print out your favorites and voila! Gorgeous, inspirational quote board finished. You can even find quotes geared towards your subject matter.
- Clean Graffiti - A local school was struggling with major graffiti issues, so they decided to embrace it. Student and local artists were invited to create art on the school walls and the finished product is a truly vibrant, beautiful school that represents their artistic student body. Embrace the artistic talent in your class by asking students to do clean graffiti on a papered wall.
Ideas from Around the Globe
- International Holidays - Download a calendar that shows holidays all over the world. Use that information to prepare a wall each month to represent different holidays. Students are often intrigued by cultural differences as they realize that not everyone celebrates the same holidays.
- Historical Figures - There must be some historical figures who have had an impact on your subject matter. Print out some of their photos with some quick facts on their accomplishments. Make it even more poignant by including some of the challenges they faced to show students that we can all persevere.
- Timelines - Seeing how a process unfolded over time can be really exciting. Draw a long, wall-length timeline and notate the key details that took place for whatever they are studying. In English, this could look like a timeline of the author’s life and when they published their different works. In science, it could be a scientist’s timeline of discoveries. This helps students put subjects into context and also see that even the greats had to go through a long process to reach success.
- Multilingual Phrases - Consider phrases that are very motivating to your group and print them out in many languages. This will appeal to so many demographics in your classroom while exposing all students to the beauty of different languages.
- Global Holidays - Instead of sharing all of the holidays, focus in on one global holiday at a time, really going in-depth on the traditions. Allow students to be immersed in a global experience to broaden their thinking and understanding of the world and their place in it.
- Global Cuisine - Food is a huge motivator for so many of us. Post images of food being eaten during that time of year all over the world. You can tie food images to lessons, such as what was eaten in the time and place of a book you are reading or images of food favored by a famous athlete you are discussing in P.E. The sky is the limit.
- Weather Updates - Weather can have such a profound impact on our moods and motivation. Consider sharing updates on the weather patterns on a wall. Use icon images and a fun graphic to share what is going on outside. Make it global by sharing the weather in several world regions. Have students discuss how the weather impacts their feelings, desire to study, interpersonal interactions and more.
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- Celebrity Culture - Students are fascinated by celebrities. Use their interests to get their attention and connect! Create a funny celebrity culture wall where you put cutouts of celebrity images with quotes they’ve said in interviews or on social media. This will be an entertaining way to connect with students as the year goes on and create great conversation when one of the featured celebrities makes news for something else.
- Popular Memes - Your students are looking at them. You’re probably looking at them, too. All you have to do is print them out and enlarge them on the copy machine for some super fun, affordable wall prints that will make your class a bit more relevant for your students.
- Student Shout-Outs - Allow students to leave each other messages on a giant message board! Make sure to encourage them to use this opportunity to build their peers up and create an encouraging atmosphere in the class. If you notice messages trending towards certain people, be sure to add your own praise for students who may be featured less frequently.
- Funny One-Liners - Laughter truly is the best medicine. School can be hard and relationships with peers are often challenging. Post funny one-liners, silly jokes, riddles, etc. on a giant funny wall! When students are feeling down, give them a few moments to breathe and catch up on new additions. Their blue day will be gone in a flash.
- Silly Holidays - There are so many ridiculous holidays out there, from National Donut Day to National Celery Month! Search online for wacky, bizarre and downright unbelievable holidays to feature on your monthly silly holidays board.
- Social Squares - Social media is a part of daily life for so many students. Use this to your advantage by incorporating it into the classroom as a way to open communication with them and motivate them with their own interests. Turn the board into a series of social squares by having each student design one square image as if it were going on social media. You can look at apps like Word Swag for Instagram to get an idea of what these can look like and create free examples to get started.
- What’s Up Wall - Share what’s up at the school, in your town and in the world! There are so many ways that you can customize the What’s Up Wall to what you are doing in the classroom so allow the wall to evolve as needed to compliment your agenda.
- The Four Seasons - Dedicate a wall to the changing seasons such as a large tree that starts in fall, loses its leaves and adds snow in the winter only to bloom again in the spring. There is something so poetic about the seasons and how the cold, harsh winter leads to the beauty and bright color of spring. Show this transition in life and how it mimics the seasons of learning. Allow students to participate in adding to the seasons over time.
- Daily Notes - If your class involves a lot of notetaking, create a large wall with the Daily Notes. Pin-up your notes from the class so absent students can get caught up easily or have students pin their notes to the wall when they are done. If you allow them to free form their notes and add their own style, the wall will take on a really cool shape over time.
- Colored Paper - Grab rolls of chart paper and blanket a section of each wall in a bright color. Many colors play on different parts of our brain and encourage learning. Even with nothing on the wall, the color alone will energize new ideas.
- Monthly Events - Use a wall as a giant memo board or calendar. Share what’s happening at school, such as sports games, events, shows and projects due. Celebrate the holistic experience of being a student at your school.
- Class Mission Statement - Work with your students to design a class mission statement for your year. Print out the words of their newly minted statement on large chart paper and put it on the wall for all to see.
- Add Ambiance - String outdoor lights in your classroom to add to the décor and display new art pieces every couple of weeks. Ask the arts class on campus if you can display some of their artwork in your classroom. Find a way to tie it into your current unit.
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- Highlight Generosity and Courage Powerful Women - Much of historical texts have accounts from women that were printed under male names. Take the time to celebrate the powerful women in history and in the present day to help even out the male-centric textbooks.
- Powerful Minority Leaders - Focus on the incredible minority leaders, artists, teachers, activists and more throughout history and in the present day.
- Spotlight on a Charity - Share a charity that is doing some good in the world! Print out who they are, their logo, what they stand for and some images of the populations they are serving. Regularly switch it out to continue giving students a great idea of all the people who are creating positive change. This may also lead to ideas for possible career paths in their futures.
- Positive News Stories - We all hear the bad ones, so share the good ones. Every time you see a positive news story of good happening in the world, print out a large image and a big paper with the title of the article. You can even handwrite it using classroom supplies to create an easy, impactful wall experience.
- Student Spotlight - Pick a student each week to commemorate on the spotlight wall. Similar to the author or historical figure wall, incorporate details about the student, images, fun facts and more. Just be sure to ask them first and show respect to any student who declines. Rotate regularly to give as many students a chance as possible to be featured!
Inspire Your Students
- Colleges - Spotlight on one college at a time or have an entire wall focused on colleges. If you contact the marketing departments of local colleges and ask for swag, chances are good that they’ll be happy to send you some things you can put on the wall to encourage students. Just make sure to represent lots of different types of schools.
- Trade Schools - Feature a trade school and put up possible career paths associated with that trade. It’s unbelievable how many high-paying occupations exist that are rarely discussed with students because they don’t originate at a four-year college. Give students a realistic look at all of their options with a featured trade school wall.
- Career Paths - If you don’t want to get college-specific, focus on different career paths that students can consider. Make sure to change it out regularly and think beyond the typical occupations that kids hear about all the time. This wall will be a fun way to celebrate all of the many paths that life can take and encourage students to think beyond the typical and more often discussed careers.
- Class Bucket List - At the beginning of the year, do an icebreaker activity on goal-setting and bucket list dreams. Have students stick their favorites on the wall. Allow them to submit anonymously if they want. Give them some basic art supplies to create something colorful and full of personality and sit back and pat yourself on the back for a gorgeous, inspiring wall of goals.
- Student Goals - If you’d like to be more serious, ask your students to really consider their current and future academic goals. Have them design an attractive goal list that they are willing to share with the class and put a mural of goals together. This wall will help them stay focused and accountable as the school year unfolds.
- List of Completed Standards - Choose a wall to reflect your class accomplishments. With each completed standard, stick a piece of chart paper with it up on the wall. As the year goes by, they’ll see how far they really have come from the beginning of the year.
- This Month in History - Every month, display moments in history that took place during that month. These don’t need to be subject-specific to be inspiring.
Decorating your classroom doesn’t have to be boring, time-consuming or expensive. With these 50 great ideas, you’ll be rockin’ and rollin’ with classroom decor that will make your class the best on campus.
Erica Jabali is a freelance writer and blogs over at ispyfabulous.com.