Classroom Displays | Display advice and ideas with Linda Hartley
A display makers toolbox

A Display Makers Toolbox

In response to lots of requests I’m doing a series of posts to help NQTs and new teaching assistants understand the basics of classroom displays. If you are fairly new to making classroom displays there are some basic points about classroom displays that can be a bit confusing. If you want more why not join us on the 4 week online Classroom Displays Starter Course (Currently booking the Self-study summer version 2014). Today we look at the tools of the trade:

Basics of Classroom Displays – A Display Maker’s Toolbox

A display makers toolbox
Classroom Displays Basics- A display makers toolbox

I  keep mine in a small plastic toolbox with a lockable lid. It should be locked away when not in use because it contains sharp objects.

You can find most of these items in the Display Maker’s Toolbox section of the bookshop. (Amazon link)


  1. An improvised plumb line – long piece of string with heavy weight on the end. If you are serious about getting everything straight then a proper chalk line kit is useful. You can get one from your local DIY store or from The Classroom Displays Bookshop (Amazon)
  2. A good rotary cutter and/or  a craft knife. These should not be used when children are around and in some difficult classes I have removed it from the kit.
  3. A self healing cutting mat. It is too easy to ruin a desk or table when using a craft knife!
  4. A metal ruler – wooden or plastic ones are no good with the craft knife.
  5. Sharp scissors. Get yourself a decent medium sized pair. You could also treat yourself to some fancy edging ones, zig-zags or scallops are good.
  6. A staple gun and matching staples. Worth getting your own, even though school may supply them. Label it with your name, otherwise they get ‘borrowed’!
  7. Sticky putty or similar – for attaching laminated letters, titles etc.
  8. Velcro pads – these are very useful for attaching heavier items or awkward shapes.
  9. Drawing pins or mapping pins – especially coloured ones, can form part of the design of the display and allow items to be easily added and removed. Don’t use them in younger classrooms or where they can be easily removed by children!
  10. A staple remover. I use this kind as I find it far more effective than the pincer sort
Heavy duty staple remover
Heavy duty staple remover

You will also find you build up:

  •   A selection of pens and pencils of various thicknesses,
  • Your own paint brushes for fine work,
  • Assorted erasers including artist’s putty,
  • Masking tape
  • Painter’s tape,
  • Sellotape

You may want your own set of stencils for lettering but that will very much depend on your school policy and style for lettering on displays.

Top Tip: Sticky tape a 5p piece just below the stapling end of the stapler. This stops staples being pushed all the way in and makes them far easier to remove. If you can’t do this use the stapler at an angle to produce a similar effect.


I hope this has given you a quick insight into some tools you might need for making displays. If you want to know more then why not have a look at the Classroom Displays Starter Course?

If you are a seasoned display maker, thank you for reading this far! Please leave your tips and suggestions in the comments section. What do you wish someone had told you about making classroom displays when you started?


NQT displays checklist

Displays Checklist for NQTs

Displays Checklist for NQTs

So you got the job! Well done! Now the panic starts.   I know you will be full of excited enthusiasm and raring to sort out ‘your’ new classroom. Breathe, and read this Displays checklist for NQTs  before you do anything rash.These are the things you need to consider now:

  • Check school displays policy (should be in Welcome pack or on website)
  • Try to have a chat with your NQT mentor before the end of term about what the school expects and if you will have displays help
  • Ask if the school uses specific fonts and colours
  • Find out what, if any, displays outside your classroom will be your responsibility.
  • Once you have a class list make several sets of labels. Save time and stress by using editable ones from sites like Teachers Pet or Twinkle.
  • Try not to spend your own money on display materials. They will be provided. See the Display Makers Toolbox for useful things you might want to buy.
  • Use the transition day to generate some sort of quick ‘getting to know you’ display that you can have up on the first day.
  • If you are in the UK avoid US based classroom design sites. Display here is more education than decoration.
  • Read this post about Display Basics
  • Join the Classroom Displays Monthly mailing list (see sidebar to sign up)
NQT displays checklist
NQT displays checklist

NQTchecklist – a printable version of the checklist for you to download.

Works for newly appointed teaching assistants too!

Oh and you might like to join the self-study Classroom Displays Starter Course, if you really want to go on studying rather than just enjoying the summer!


displays course summer version

Summer Self-Study Displays Course

I’m re-opening the self-study version of the Basic Classroom Displays Course as of today, (July 1st 2014).  Access starts on July 1st and costs £20.

displays course summer version
Try the self-study version of the basic displays course this summer

What is the Basic Classroom Displays Course?

On the surface? It’s about learning the basics of making effective displays.
But really? It’s about making your classroom a better place to learn.

How Does The Self Study Displays Course Work?

The Basic Classroom Displays Course is normally a 4 week on line course for NQTs, teaching assistants or anyone who needs to know the basics of making classroom displays. Over the summer I open it up so that people can access the material and study at their own pace.

  • You pay via the Paypal link at the bottom of this post
  • I send you the password and the link to the lessons.
  • You work your way through them as quickly or as slowly as you like.
  • You retain full access until the September class starts.
  • You can download the PDF file of the lessons straight away to print out and keep.
  • I provide feedback on any completed tasks you send me, by email.

Who is it for?

This course is designed for people who are unsure where to start with displays — people who struggle to find ideas or worry about their displays being boring.

What will I learn?

By the end of the Basic Classroom Displays Course

  • You will understand how to make your displays really work for your learners
  • You will know where to look for display ideas and resources
  • You will be able to use basic design principles to make your displays stand out.
  • You will confidently use colour in your displays and know how to best to mount children’s work.
  • You will choose from a range of lettering styles to find the ones that best suit your display.

Best of all, you’ll have the experience of looking at lots of other people’s displays and seeing how to improve them. Once you do that it becomes much easier to see how to improve your own!

If you need more details you can find them on the Classroom Displays Training site.

Access starts on July 1st and costs £20.


Non-chronological texts display via Vicky

Classroom Displays from real classrooms

These excellent classroom displays have all been shared from our Facebook Page. I will keep updating this slideshow as new displays are added. I hope this will help people who cannot access Facebook in school.

If you would like to see your real classroom displays, from your classroom shared here then you can do one of the following:

  • Join the Facebook page and message them to me
  • Join the Flickr group and add them
  • Email them to me here:

As I said, I’m sharing these here as I know not everyone can access Facebook or Flickr at school. I hope you will find them as inspiring as I do. I think it is great to see inside other people’s classrooms and to get a feel for what they are doing. So often it sparks off ideas and helps us, even if we end up doing something totally different!



Display advice and ideas with Linda Hartley