Think Outside the Bulletin Board
There are so many things to think about when planning your classroom for the coming year. You think about lesson plans, unit and semester plans, concerts, building-wide evaluation systems, new requirements from the state/district, new purchases, fundraising… oh and also you need to put something up on that bulletin board because the students come for open house TOMORROW!
When considering classroom decor, one of my favorite things to do is to think beyond the confines of the bulletin board. It is relatively easy to print off some posters, tack them up, and just be done. Sometimes when you’re out of time and need ANYTHING to cover the wall, that’s the route you take. However, when you’ve got a few minutes, there are a lot of things you can do with your classroom walls. In fact, there are some pretty easy ways to make that space pop and sparkle. It just takes a little effort and a little know-how. I wanted to write this blog post to give you some ideas about how to jazz up your space without losing your mind.
Make It Big — Catch Their Eye
A few years ago I was preparing a show with my second and third graders called “A Holiday Moosical” and I needed something in the hallway to get them talking about the concert. I knew I wanted something big and exciting to spark their interest. To create this bulletin board, I took my document camera and projected the image from the front of my teacher’s manual for the show onto my white board. I taped up some brown butcher paper on the white board and traced the outline of the moose. Then I cut the image out, took it home, and shaded some things in to fill out the picture and add the features of the Moose face. Most of the moose was stapled up to the existing bulletin board but the few pieces that hung over the edge were secured with masking tape. This was so much fun for me to make and for the kids to see because they knew immediately it was Marty the Moose! He was larger than life and seemed so perfect.To read more about this process, click here to see a blog post about it.
A few years later I took the same approach to “go big” when creating this bulletin board for another concert. I was low on inspiration and crunched for time and then I found these great and FREE items in the teachers lounge. A huge bear to “hug” the bulletin board and an old fluffy bear pillowcover toy. The huge pink bear was amazingly easy to add around the bulletin board. As for the plush bear, I wanted the bear to look like he was sliding down a hill covered with snow. I added some of that fake snow fabric stuff first to make the effect of a snowy hill. Then I had to staple the crap out of the bear until he finally stayed up on the board. I would go back every few days and make sure he was still secure on the wall, but wow was it worth it. The kids LOVED being able to walk by and pet the bear (I didn’t discourage it because they head-over-heels loved it) and it brought a lot of attention to the show.To read more about this process, click here to see a blog post about it.
Make your own Mosaic and let students do the work!
A few years ago I got on Pinterest and was so inspired by all the amazing pictures of colorful bulletin boards with lots of little student-created pieces. This picture in particular was one of my favorites. The author of the pin, Julie Wilwinson says: This was a fun activity to do in music class the first week of school involving the whole school! The kids spent just the last 10 minutes of class coloring their note/musical symbol. I also had a bit of a grade level assignment for them to include. The fifth graders wrote their favorite song title, the third graders wrote the value of the assigned note etc. The outcome was amazing and it took very little planning on the part of the teacher. She gave them the blank notes and let them go crazy with their designs!I wanted to do something similar with my students but just needed an occasion. A few months later I received the amazing opportunity to host a program called the “Jellybean Conspiracy.” Jellybean is non-profit organization that is billed as a “theater of kindness” and helps to teach kids about how to treat others and show respect to people who might look, act, or sound different. We put on a musical called “No Such Thing As Normal” which taught students about autism and how to relate to and respect kids who have autism and other special needs.
I wanted something out in the hallway that would get ALL of my students excited about the upcoming show and get them thinking about jellybeans. So, I created this bulletin board to drive their interest and get them involved. The main idea was this phrase, “The World Would Be So Boring If Every Jellybean Were Exactly The Same.” I would explain this to my classes and would say, “Would you want a jellybean jar that was completely full of just red beans?” They would generally say, “NO! That’s too boring!” We would talk about how jellybeans were awesome because there were so many different kinds and flavors. Jellybeans are great because of their differences. With that background I headed to the copier![su_spacer]I copied little smiling jellybeans and gave one to every student in the building. Each kid was told to color the bean in whatever way they wanted, cut it out, and return it to their teacher. I copied the beans 4 to a page for kiddos and 2 to a page for adults so that you could see a size difference (slightly larger) for the adults. I handed them out to teachers and sent a short email with instructions. Then they started flooding in. Some teachers sent the beans home with kids and some took some class time to do this as a group activity. I was afraid that kids would make solid colored beans like the beans I had on my bulletin board. Instead I got an amazing array of beans in all colors, patterns, and styles. Some had googley eyes and glitter, some were patterned or striped, and some had extra arms, wings, or antenna. It was amazing. I made this jellybean bulletin board into a set on TPT. Check it out here!
Beyond the Bulletin Board… Filling in “Dead Space”
Check out the Instrument Alphabet HERE