Picture this: You're standing in front of your classroom, armed with coloured paper, glue sticks, and endless ideas for creating the most incredible displays. But let me tell you, as a seasoned teacher, there are a few things I wish somebody had told me about classroom displays before I embarked on my teaching journey. So, grab your notebook and get ready for some helpful advice that will save you time, effort, and hopefully a few paper cuts!
1. Start with a Plan (Yes, Really!):
I know, I know, we're all tempted to dive headfirst into a pile of colourful paper and let our creativity run wild. But trust me, a little planning goes a long way. Take a moment to sketch out your ideas, think about the purpose of the display, and consider how it connects to your curriculum or the current season. This way, you'll avoid those "uh-oh" moments when you realise you've run out of space or have created a display that has nothing to do with what you're teaching. Oops! Use our Awareness Days and Events Calendar to help with special events throughout the year.
If you’re a new teacher or at a new school, don’t forget to check out your school’s display policy. Unfortunately we teachers don’t always have creative freedom! Many schools have specific rules about font, colours and purpose. Ensure you are planning your displays around this guidance. It will save unnecessary changes after those learning walks throughout the year.
2. Embrace the Power of Borders:
Borders may seem like those little decorative strips that come with the bulletin board paper, but they can be the unsung heroes of your displays. They help frame your work and make it pop. So, don't underestimate the mighty border! Choose colours that complement your theme or go for a contrasting shade to make things stand out. Your displays will instantly go from "meh" to "wow" with a well-chosen border.
That said, always put a standard border around your classroom displays and put your more exciting border on top! You’ll thank yourself when you’re looking to change borders midway through the year and you’re feeling less inspired.
3. Let Your Students Take the Wheel:
Creating displays shouldn't be a one-person show. Involve your students and let their creativity shine! Ask them to contribute artwork, write captions, or even come up with display ideas. Not only will this save you time, but it also fosters a sense of ownership and pride among your students. Plus, you might discover some hidden artistic talents that you never knew existed!
However, make sure you put a reminder somewhere so you don’t forget to actually fill the empty wall space with your pupils’ work. You need to ensure you don’t end up with a lovely blank picture frame on the wall all year … or for most of the term. We’ve all been there!
4. Don't Be a Hoarder:
Raise your hand if you've ever had a stock cupboard overflowing with old displays, faded posters, and random bits of paper. Guilty as charged, right? I still have a cupboard full of stuff at home, just in case I ever need it again. Let's face it, we teachers can be sentimental creatures, but we need to let go. Rotate your displays regularly and recycle old materials. It's time to free up that precious storage space and make way for new inspirations. Trust me, your sanity will thank you!
Want a Free British Values Display Pack?
To make it easier for you to create your own British Values display, we've created a range of free resources that you can download and use. These include posters, lettering, and pupil voice speech bubbles.
5. Keep It Functional:
While we all want our displays to be visually stunning, don't forget about their functional purpose. Make sure they are educational and interactive. Include elements that encourage student engagement, like pockets for storing flashcards or interactive sections for posting responses. Let your displays be more than just eye candy—they should also be valuable learning tools.
One year, I attached a chalkboard to one of my displays and invested in some colourful chalkboard pens, you know the fancy ones they use to write menus in restaurants? It was an excellent investment! I was able to write directly onto my display each time I started a new topic i.e. ‘key features of persuasive texts’. It looked bright and engaging and the kids were super excited by the colours and how it was something a bit different. It also managed to get their attention … for a short while at least.
6. Less Is More (Really!):
I get it, you have a gazillion ideas and want to cover every inch of wall space with your creativity. But here's the secret: less is more. Allow some breathing room between displays. This gives your students' eyes a chance to rest and appreciate each piece. Plus, it makes your classroom look organised and less overwhelming. So resist the urge to cover every square inch of wall space, and embrace the beauty of simplicity.
Looking for Protected Characteristic Displays?
It sometimes feels like new terms are cropping up left,right and centre and it's difficult to keep on top of this especially for displays. Below we give simple explanations for protected characteristics as well as a free display pack ... so at least you have one thing sorted!
7. Be Resourceful:
Classroom displays don't have to break the bank. Get resourceful and look for materials in unexpected places. That leftover wrapping paper from Christmas? Perfect for a vibrant backdrop! Empty cereal boxes? Cut them into 3D shapes for added dimension. And don't forget about the wonders of nature—bring in leaves, flowers, or rocks to add a touch of the great outdoors to your displays - or better yet ... get your kids to bring bits in.
Rachael was a primary school teacher for five years before joining VotesforSchools. She remembers spending the summer holidays thinking about displays and buying random items she thought would help make the task easier come August! She got better with this over time and wanted to share her insights with you!