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Learning Environment

Make This a DIY Summer, Part Four: Welcoming Bulletin Boards

Creating inviting bulletin boards to ensure that the first impression of the classroom creates a sense of eager anticipation and community.

Our Make This a DIY Summer Series has focused on making the learning environment the best it can possibly be for both students and teachers. Whether the topic has been seating, designated reading areas, or mathematical resources, the true focus has been to enhance the environment where all learning takes place. Part of making a great environment is ensuring that all students feel they are part of the community of learners. A great way to build that community spirit is by building an inviting bulletin board display that integrates the names of each student in the class. Yes, lots of pre-packaged sets exist, but in the spirit of innovative DIY ideas, we’ve gathered some easy themes that can be created using die-cut presses, printed templates, and/or other odds and ends to repurpose or upcycle.

Greatest Hits– This is an easy upcycle for those old discs that have been replaced by memory cards and/or iTunes downloads. A school tech room may also have a case or two of DVD-RW discs, or these discs may be found during a home office purge or garage sale visit. Title the board Mr. Campbell’s Greatest Hits or Ms. Schmidt’s Favorite Playlist, and grab a sharpie or paint pen to add a student name to the plain (and shiny) side of each disc. For those feeling really creative, a catchy song title for each name could be created. By adding a few die-cut music notes, headphones, or instruments, an inviting look is completed. A nice way to make connections with students as conversations about music interests are sure to follow.

Building Blocks– With learning and mastery of concepts requiring a firm foundation, building blocks make a perfect metaphorical display. Legos are all the craze, and constructing a board with this theme is a fun way to be current in the interests of many students. Board catch phrases could include Mrs. Kellogg has all the pieces for a great year!, Building an awesome year!, Room 208 is building learners!, etc. Student names could be added to a display in a few different ways. A quick template could be made for cutting blocks from foam sheets of different colors. Some 3D bricks could be constructed do add some more depth to the design. A base of the board could be created with some bricks, and students could fashion their own personalized Lego characters from blank designs cut from heavy cardstock. Lots of options with lots of different DIY levels.

Crossword Puzzle– This is a great display for older students or an ELA/Reading classroom. A giant crossword puzzle can be created using the names of all students. Teachers can craft the puzzle design themselves or head to a free puzzle maker website. Letter squares can be created using squares of paper and die-cut letters/cutouts or letters could be printed directly on the squares. Students could get involved by creating the clues that states an interesting fact about themselves. A fun way for the class and visitors to get to know a little bit about each member of the learning community.

Crayons– This fun and colorful idea can be a bright spot in the classroom. Great for art rooms or any other classroom that could use an engaging visual. Taglines could include A new pack has arrived in Room 104!, Mr. Clark’s class is ready to color the year!, or It’s going to be a colorful year in room186! Large crayons can be created as the main visual with smaller ones dotted around them containing student names. An actual crayon box could be constructed with students’ names placed on crayons that are found both inside and outside of the box. As with any of the other bulletin board ideas, students could be a part of the creation of their individual component.

Additional Themes

Cars– Whether this one is spurred by the latest movie release or a metaphor for the educational journey of the school year, some car cutouts and the right tagline can get things rolling. Mr. Ford’s students are starting their engines for a great year!

Candy– Student names placed on DIY candy made from paper plates and cellophane, lollipops could also be created by adding a stick, gumballs could be crafted from simple circle cutouts and placed in a DIY dispenser, etc. make for colorful visuals. Ms. Cobb’s students are ready for a sweet year!

Ocean– Schools of fish make for a fun way to share student names. Lots of underwater themes could work with any variations of ocean life. Room 106 is ready to just keep learning!

Balloons– Actual balloons wouldn’t have much durability, but some time spent creating colorful cutouts will have a great effect. Add some string to create a bunch. Room 175 is soaring to new heights!

Puzzle Pieces– A fun visual that shows the classroom community forming a group. By printing the puzzle pieces in different colors, a bright display is created. Room 8 fits together perfectly!

There are so many unique ways to create bulletin boards. With the right catch phrase, any big idea can be turned into a welcoming DIY creation. Taking the time this summer to find the templates and create some cutouts and/or 3D pop-ups will really wow students as the school year starts. A school mascot, new pop culture item, favorite collectible, etc. could be the perfect starting point for designing a visual that build the classroom sense of community. With the welcome out of the way, be sure to check back for our next Make This a DIY Summer installment featuring easy science activities.