Classroom environment is my favorite part of being a teacher. I love making my room look nice and neat. I get a sense of satisfaction in displaying the students' work on the wall. I just really like putting up bulletin boards. It is one of the main reasons I became a teacher (oh, and also inspiring tomorrow's leaders...;) ) So here is a post dedicated to all things bulletin boards.
One thing you should know about me is that I am a student work displayer. I almost never have a board that isn't based on something the kids did in class. I don't make cutesy boards that just have snowman on it or anything. While I LOVE looking at them in other classrooms, I just don't like having them in *my* room. So all of the picture you will see are student work displays, no big heart with a cute Valentine's Day saying (again, so cute, just not my style.)
Raise your hand if you love T-pins! Anyone else besides me???
Until I went to my new school this year, I honestly didn't think anything of them. I have used them for as long as I can remember....everyone did. They were just part of the bulletin board culture. But when I went to the new school, and we had a walk through of all the classrooms, as everyone entered mine, the oohhs and ahhs over the "3D on the boards" was crazy! I hadn't really paid much attention to the "differentness" in the use of T-pins. Now, I appreciate them even more.
In case you are unsure, T-pins look like little Ts.
I use GEM T-Pins, Steel, 2 Inches, Silver, 100/Box (85T)
They just give the bulletin board a little bit of an oomph.
On my very first day of moving into my very first classroom, I went into the supply room and got some black butcher paper. I just thought it would look nice. One of the veteran teachers came in to say hi and I thought nothing of it. Well, she ran to the coordinator, who immediately came in to tell me that said veteran teacher was taken aback by the "new teacher and her crazy wall color". You see, 14 years ago, no one at the school had ever used black butcher paper. It scared her half to death! haa haa
For me, black just seems like the natural choice. Everything pops out on it. All colors seem more colorful. Work seems to stand out more. Plus, I can change my border color on a whim and not worry about changing the background paper!
Don't throw tomatoes, but I don't like store bought borders. I think they are so flat. I also like double borders (white underneath a color) and lining up the wavy store bought ones is a pain the you know what. So I have decided to just make my own. I have done a lot of different things over the years, but my two favorite border incarnations are marble painted sentence strips and tissue paper.
For the sentence strips, I get, well, sentence strips, and about 3 different colors of paint. I use white and then the dark and light tints of the main color. So for the ones I made this year, I used dark blue and turquoise, as well as white.
I lay the strip out on newspaper, and take a bit of each color on my paintbrush. I then start dabbing the brush (not painting, dabbing) onto the strip. Sometimes I take more dark blue. Sometimes more white. I mix it up so that there are a lot of different colors to give it a marble effect.
This takes me about 2 hours to make enough strips to cover the entire classroom.
I also like to use tissue paper. Many of the teachers at my former site used it, so I jumped on the bandwagon for a few years. You just take three pieces of tissue (well, I like 3 colors, you can use less), hold them together, then scrunch them at the ends. I then staple the end so there is a bit of paper sticking out. The next piece gets the same treatment, but when you put the two together, the little stick out pieces bunch up so it forms the "flower" and covers up the staple!) It really is clean, and neat...and makes the boards have a 3D effect (can you tell we were into the 3D stuff at the other school??)
Use All The Space
I am notorious for using every inch of wall space I have. I hang things from my ceiling. I use the doors. I display work on the windows. I paint murals (on butcher paper) on my cabinet doors. I just love to fill the entire space with the students' hard work...and looking at the drab walls makes me shiver. (I know there are those teachers who are cringing at the idea of covering everything...I can't help it)
So there you have it. Just some of my own ideas about classroom environment and how I use the space in my room. Luckily, we don't have the strict fire marshal restrictions (yet) that I read about in other districts. If we did, I don't know what I would do!
What is something you do in your classroom to make your bulletin boards stand out?