Who likes to change their classroom decor every year, and who likes to do a complete overhaul with a new classroom theme each year? Not me! I know a lot of teachers do, and I completely admire them; their classrooms always come out looking A-ma-zing! Call me lazy, call me not-Pinterest-worthy, call me what you want; I like to think of my classroom decor style as simple. That’s it. I don’t feel I need to go overboard, because I am confident some great teaching can happen in my room—even if not everything matches.
Because of my strong dislike of doing a complete decor overhaul each year, I’ve come up with my own little classroom hacks that kind of allow me to “fake” the whole classroom-theme thing, all while keeping it simple.
Here’s what I do:
Overall, I keep the basic decor structure of my room the same. That rarely (or never) changes. I like colorful borders and eye-catching displays, and those stay put every year (unless I need to change them out based on “needs”) . The little things I add are what gives my classroom that “theme” kind of feeling. Let me show you what I mean with some small changes I’m making for this upcoming school year. It’s been super simple, and best of all, it hasn’t taken me a lot of time at all!
DISCLAIMER: I obviously have camera exposure issues with my before and after shots (I should’ve taken the pictures all in the same day, at the same time of day). Oh, boy! I apologize for that.
This year, I decided I wanted to do an emoji theme just for my “welcome” outside of my classroom, and that inspired me to continue those little emoji-changes inside my classroom as well. I went ahead and created a few things to add to the already-there- decor; not to completely change it.
I added this cute love emoji face ⬆ to add something fun to my writing wall. I hope my students love it as much as I do!
(Again, sorry for the horrible lighting in the before shot)
In the back of my room I have a laminated chart with Velcro on it, and it is simply an incentive chart. My students know that when it’s full, they’ve earned an extra recess.
I keep a bag of green cardstock squares next to the chart, and they also have Velcro on them.
Whenever I see my kids really synergizing (we’re a Leader in Me school), I try to give them a green square. They know they don’t get a green square every time they show great synergy, but they know it’s always a possibility.
Maybe my new emoji squares will give my students a greater incentive to work together. We’ll see!
My SWAG board is just an objectives board. SWAG, in my classroom, stands for “students will achieve greatness.”
I like to have my SWAG board on my whiteboard, because it’s so easy to change my objectives; I just write everything with an Expo. The subject is written on the left and the objective for that day’s subject on the right.
In the before shot, yes, SWAG was written with just Expo (I told you I keep things simple). However, I like my new SWAG much better!
On a side note, when I start my lessons I like to say, “We’re going to SWAG in…,” and I end that statement with the lesson’s objective. My students then repeat, “I’m going to SWAG in…;” they repeat the objective, and they usually like to say it with a little confidence.
My old birthday chart (in the before picture) was one given to me my first year of teaching. I didn’t have one, and school was starting very soon, so I asked around, and this is what I got. Who knew I was rocking emojis before they were even cool? Sadly, birthday poster #1 is now in the trash.
The one I changed it with is something I can use from year to year. I won’t print a new one each year; I’ll just print my students’ names and birthdays on a separate sheet of white paper, trim, and adhere to my new laminated birthday set. If I decide I don’t want emojis anymore, I’ll just cover those cute little guys up with a different graphic. Yeah, that’s how I roll.
Don’t ask me why there aren’t name tags in three of the pockets of this chart. Apparently, I wasn’t paying close attention on the last day of school. However, all it took to spruce it up was the cute emoji cards on the sides.
Even the bathroom passes got updated. The old ones came from Target years ago. The new ones are the same size, lightweight, and look much better. I even added the “in use” on the back.
My spelling wall (that’s on my cupboards–ha ha) even got a little emoji-love.
I used to use a little paper star to put above the group that was the “word winning group” for the prior week, but now I think I’ll use my cute geek emoji (I think he’s my favorite).
One last change to show you is the student cubbies. The old numbering came from the package you can get at Wal-Mart. You know, the ones you can use to put on your mailbox or house number sign. The new look is so much better!
I can’t show you all of the cubbies, because I don’t have them all numbered yet (I need to laminate first). I did a couple so you could get the idea. I’m going to use the same emoji and numbering for my students’ desk name tags.
Well, there you go! Just a few simple decorating hacks can make a more cohesive-looking classroom design. It may not be completely Pinterest-worthy, but it’s an improvement, and I’d call that a success!
If you’re an emoji-fanatic like I am, I have a great surprise for you! I’ve put together a bunch of emoji-themed decor you can use in your classroom. Everything you see in the after pictures (plus more) is in the set ready for you to download and print. The only thing you won’t see in the free download is the birthday chart, but you can find that here.
Also, if you want to see what I’m putting outside of my classroom to welcome my students this year, just click here.
Happy emoji-ing to you (unless you’re not using emojis this year but have an equally exciting decor hack going on ☺)!