It has started. I am already dreading walking into school on August 24th to face bleak walls, boring desks and chairs layout, and blank bulletin boards, but as much I am dreading the hard work, I am also excited as it’s time to transform my classroom into an exciting learning environment. Do you want to join me in this venture? Was that a resounding yes that I heard?
Let your imagination run wild for a moment but only for a moment, because, reality will remind you that there’s always the Budget to consider. If like me you will be funding most of this classroom transformation out of your own pocket, then you have to transform your room on a tight budget. Ok, here are 6 quick and cheap makeover ideas that we can all choose from. These 6 ideas will cost you next to nothing and make your students say, “Wow!”
- Back Pockets – Storage is often an issue in classrooms, especially those prone to clutter. So purchase or sew a hanging over-the-door pocket bag. To sew the pocket bag, you’ll need a 7X2-foot piece of durable fabric. Cut out pockets of different fabrics in varying shapes and sizes, and sew them on the larger piece.
- Don’t just decorate your door, make it part of the big picture! Use butcher paper for a temporary scene or latex paint for a permanent scene.
- Cliffhanger – Choose an event from a story and illustrate it on your classroom door… storyboard-style. Tease students and visitors with a sign that says, “What happened next? Come in to find out!”
- Border – Have kids lend a hand and character to this fun ceiling decoration. Create a handprint border around the top of the wall or the ceiling using several different colours of tempera paint.
- Mobiles – Mobiles are an easy way to liven up any drab room, and they make a creative class project.
- Colours Galore – Trade the institutional white or magnolia on your walls for something more contemporary if you are allowed.
- A trip to a home improvement store will give you an idea of the vast range of cheerful colour combinations available.
- Go Dark – Dramatic colours can add depth and interest to your room, and they make the perfect background to students’ work. You don’t want to paint every wall and the ceiling magenta, but a single dark wall with a display at the back of the room is inviting and will draw people into your room.
- Murals – Murals never go out of style and they’re always a fun, cooperative effort. You’ll need an artistic person to create the outlines of the mural, but just about anyone with a paintbrush can fill in the rest.
- PVC Surprise – PVC piping (available at home improvement stores) is cheap, light, and versatile. To make curtain rods, cut sections just longer than the width of your windows. Drape each section with fabric, or cover the pipe itself with glue and fabric.
- Glass Stain – Windows are wonderful, but sometimes what’s going on outside them distracts kids. If you want to keep the light but lose the distraction, “stain” your glass.
- Remnants and Rugs – Cover worn-out carpet or soften tile with carpet remnants or inexpensive rugs. Breaking up a basic floor colour with rugs also breaks up the room. You can create a cozy story time area or designate an activity area with varied carpets.
- Paint Me a Path – If your floor is forgettable, make it memorable with a new paint job (uncarpeted floors only). You can go wild with wacky designs and tons of colour, or you can stay sane with a single sublime shade.
- Crates – Crates can do double duty as storage and bench seating. You can spray paint older crates to spruce up their appearance, or cover them with fabric. To make benches, simply cut a piece of plywood to cover the crates. Glue foam to one side of the plywood, and finish the bench top by covering it with fabric. Staple the fabric to the bottom of the bench top with a staple gun.
- Mini Beanbags – Beanbags are great for kids ages 3 and up to lie or sit on during story time or activities, and they stack for games and easy cleanup.
- Erase the bland look of classroom furniture with some brightly coloured fabric. For example, cut tablecloths from remnants of fabric, new shower curtains, and oversize tablecloths. Have kids decorate pillowcases with fun designs and pictures. Slide the pillowcases over the backs of the chairs and tie large ribbons around the bases of the chair backs.
- Focal Teaching Point – Every classroom comes with a place to write, such as a chalkboard, dry erase board, or flip board. But if you’d like to expand your wall-writing options, apply chalkboard paint to an entire wall.
These are just some of the things we can do to make our learning environment fun and engaging for our students. Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have fun and don’t forget to let your students help you in the classroom makeover process.
About Christina Morris
Christina Morris is an educator who currently teaches in a cycle three school in Abu Dhabi. She has been in the UAE for four years and enjoys sharing her experience with others especially those looking to move to the UAE to teach.