Classroom Displays – leaving room for your class

Classroom Displays at the start of the new year

What will your display boards look like to the children coming into your classroom at the start of the new term? How will you make them feel welcome?


This display for a kindergarten is used year after year but the children’s names are always added using a different technique. Classroom Displays flickr group member Laurel (puddle jump) says:

By the time all the kids’ names are displayed there’s usually only a bit of rainbow peeking out. The name art differs each year (rainbow traced names, yarn shaped, mosaic names, wax-resist water colour over crayon, etc.) but the rainbow remains.

That and the quote below got me wondering. Are there really 2 diverse approaches to getting classrooms ready for the new year or do most of us find a middle way?

Get a Few Wow Classroom Displays Up, Quick!

Some teachers like to get displays up, maybe even before the end of the previous term. Often these are recycled displays, some of which they’ve used repeatedly over the years. One Year 6 pupil once remarked on entering a Year 2 class that she had fond memories of making the beach hut on their Then and Now seaside  display. Empty boards make some teachers feel uncomfortable and worried.

Let’s Start Our Classroom Displays With a Blank Canvas

Others prefer empty boards with just fresh backing paper on them. One of my teachers always used to just put up mysterious eye catching titles and leave them guessing as to what might go there. I liked this idea and so did the pupils. Sometimes we even changed our display plans in response to their suggestions of what the mystery display might be. It made room for the pupils and gave them more of a sense of ownership of the classroom.

Who’s Classroom Is It Anyway?

Of course that’s another question of approach, is it your classroom or theirs?  Here’s an interesting take on it that I came across via Twitter (Follow me on Twitter I’m @lindiop.Thanks @teachingideas).

The Big Fresh from Choice Literacy July 25, 2009 Theres Room for Me Here
There’s Room for Me Here

What’s the hardest thing for a teacher to do when setting up the room before students arrive? It may be leaving most of the walls and bulletin boards bare. We pride ourselves in planning schedules and lessons that maximize time, build community, and help students thrive from the moment they step into the classroom. And that begins with a classroom that is well-organized, clean. . .and beautifully decorated.

Yet those bare walls send a message more powerful than the most lovely displays. As Debbie Miller writes in Teaching with Intention:

When kids walk into classrooms on the first day of school, we want them to feel, “Oh good! There’s room for me here!” When everything is already done, kids don’t have to wonder much about who is in charge. They know that from the minute they walk into the room.

That’s why on the first days of school the classroom walls, bulletin boards and doors will be almost bare. That’s as it should be! Don’t jump in and “put stuff up” just to make yourself feel better. Be patient. In a few days, your students’ classroom portraits could be smiling back at you, or beginning of the year interviews posted for all to see. . .


How do you approach the new term when planning your classroom displays?

What do you think?
I’ve closed the poll now and 150 of you said:
Are Your Boards Empty or Full?

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.