Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Co-Creating Your Classroom Decor With Your Students

When I first started teaching, I spent a great deal of time preparing and decorating my classroom in the weeks leading up to the start of school, in the hopes that my classroom would be completely set up and ready for the arrival of my new students in September. This suited my A-type personality and always gave me great pleasure, as I love decor and feel strongly that how a learning environment looks and feels is incredibly important determining factor of academic success. The concept of the classroom as the third teacher (you can read more about that in this section of the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum or in this Edugains Resource). 

While I have loved this approach to classroom set up and decor and still do some of this work in advance of my students arriving, in recent years, I have fought against my A-type tendencies and allowed for much of my decor to be created only after my students have joined our class. Having students co-create the classroom decor allows educators to instill agency in their students from the start of the year and teaches students that their voice and their choices matter. Students love to see their own work on the walls and are more likely to attend to word walls, number lines and alphabet posters if they have created them. 

I am a firm believer that classroom decor should be beautiful, natural and functional. We spend time finding wood elements, selecting plants, and creating word walls and posters that are natural and visually appealing. Everything that is put up on our walls has a purpose and we are careful not to add visual clutter to our space. The posters we put up serve a purpose and enhance our learning, such as a number line to reference during math play, or colour posters that are bilingual and help us remember the names of colours in French.

Here are a few helpful tips for co-creating classroom decor:

Have students co-create alphabet posters with natural items and words that they can write. Be sure to include the names of students and educators in your class.

Use found objects to create number posters. Be sure to have the number, the number word, and a ten frame for reference. Creating a number line with wooden numbers, string and a pompoms from the Dollar Store is an easy and inexpensive way to create functional decor for your room.

Create colour posters to add a spark of colour to your room. We have the students find objects outdoors and in our craft supplies to glue onto the posters. This can also be an excellent colour sorting activity!

Almost all decor items can be created alongside your students. They will enjoy this play and will feel pride whenever they see their work posted on the walls around them. You can created banners, a door sign, a classroom birthdays sign, labels for centers or table spots, and even a classroom calendar or weather station. The possibilities are endless!

To make things even easier, (and to appease the A-type people out there that, like me, struggle a bit with the completely student-created decor items), I have created a few Co-Created, neutral and natural classroom decor resources that are print and go. Simly print the templates and let your students' creativity take it from there!

Looking for a place to start? Try this FREE Co-Created Colour Posters resource. Click on the link below!