The new school year will be starting before you’ve even had the chance to perfect your summer tan. You’ve got a long list of things to do to prep for the year ahead, and one of them includes getting your classroom ready. Whether you’re brand new to teaching this year, or you’re a veteran teacher looking for ways to refresh your classroom décor, here are five modern themes you and your students will love.
Around the World
Give students the feeling of traveling around the globe, around the room. This is a great theme for second through fifth graders who may be learning geography, flags, and international affairs.
- Decorate each area of the class, or each desk, as a different country (Italy, Japan, U.S.), or big city (e.g., Rome, Tokyo, New York)
- Use a “passport” as a hall pass, a “boarding pass” for nameplates, and a “travel journal” as notebooks.
- Place multiple clocks in a row, set to different time zones
- Use vintage suitcases as storage for books
- Label reading or relaxation stations as “Rest Stops”
- Use a reward system with “First-class Tickets”
- Call the teacher helper for the week the “Tour Guide”
- Include maps, globes, flags, street signs, multicultural items for décor
- Create a board with student pics and a “Best Students in the World” sign
- Display student work with a “Best Work in the World” sign
Perfect for any grade, give your classroom a nautical, under-the-sea theme using a lot of bright, bold colors, and these details:
- Welcome students to the class with an “Ahoy Mattey!” sign
- Create a “Meet the Crew” sign on a board with student photos
- Call the standout student the “Captain of the Week”
- Call the teacher helper for the week the “First Mate”
- Incorporate anchors, sea life, beach, and boating elements into décor
- Label the reading station the “Reading Reef”
Not all kids love sports, so be sure to incorporate a variety into your décor—for example: soccer, ballet, gymnastics, baseball. This also creates an opportunity to tie in the Harmony SEL practice of identifying stereotypes—e.g., which students are more likely to play certain sports.
- Create a “Team Roster” board with students’ names and photos
- Give the weekly standout student an “MVP” award/certificate or trophy
- Label different sections of the class as different sports
- Create different boards around the class to look like different types of playing fields
- Encourage the importance of team work within the classroom rules
Kids are into technology at a way younger age than ever before. For grades five and six, bring some fun smartphone or app references into your cool techy classroom theme.
- Create an Instagram board with student photos and fun captions
- Have students create Facebook profiles on paper about famous authors and hang them up in class
- Have students write on paper a daily “Status Update” on their thoughts or feelings about a topic
- Call the reading area “Readbox” with a sign that looks like Redbox
- Use printed emojis for students to use as feelings indicators
Inspire children daily with a classroom theme that includes motivational quotes. Mix quotes from children’s literature with fun, vibrant décor. This is a good theme for upper elementary grades, as students are reading more and becoming familiar with authors. Here are some ideas for quotes:
- “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” –Dr. Seuss
- “Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple” –Dr. Seuss
- “The more that you read the more things you will know.” –Dr. Seuss
- “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –The Lion and the Mouse
- “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.” –Charlotte’s Web
Here are a couple other appropriate quotes for the classroom (not from children’s books):
- “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” –Mason Cooley
- “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” –Albert Einstein
When you first walk into your classroom, it may seem stark and boring. It’s important to create a place that helps students feel inspired and enthusiastic to come to class every day—a place that is inviting, joyful, and colorful. Have fun getting creative and adding your own personality into your theme, too!