Linda Hartley


About Linda Hartley

Hi, I enjoy helping teachers to make their classrooms into interesting visual learning environments. I write most of this site and I also run the Classroom Displays online course which you can find out more about in the sidebar.


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. 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?

 


Displays Checklist for NQTs   Recently updated !

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!

 


Chinye a West African Folktale

chinye

Chinye a West African Folktale

(Image cc Andy Roberts)

Chinye a West African Folktale is one of a number of “Cinderella” style stories looked at as part of Ruth MIskin’s Read Write Comprehension series. This selection of stories show the wide, multicultural nature of the Cinderella myth. The story follows the basic shape as we know it.

Chinye was a well known  West African folk tale which is retold in this version by Obi Onyefulu and beautifully illustrated by Evie Safarewicz The main character is a young Nigerian girl who loses her beloved father, she is left to work as a servant to her stepmother and her spoilt step-sister . One day she is kind to an old woman in the forest and Chinye’s good heart eventually brings her great rewards. (more…)


Roald Dahl The BFG

Roald-Dahl-The-BFG

Roald-Dahl-The-BFG

Roald Dahl’s The BFG is a firm favourite in schools. In case you don’t know the story the BFG is a big, friendly giant who befriends a little girl called Sophie. They have some interesting, hilarious and slightly scary adventures together. Children respond well to Dahl’s darker vision of childhood and his understanding of the more frightening aspects of growing up. His child heroes and heroines are always resourceful and independent and usually far more competent than the adults around them.

Engage The Learners

Getting Dahl displays right though can be a bit tricky. It is too easy to get carried away making a ‘wow!’ display and forget the need for learners to engage with the display. (more…)