Should I spend my savings on classroom decoration?
Absolutely not. I think some teachers get entirely too caught up in bulletin boards and themes. It's fun to do, but it's not necessary for learning to take place. Since you don't have a lot of money to put towards it and your students are low-income, you should all work together to CREATE decorations. Let the kids set up committees and decide what they want to do and how they'll go about doing it. It'll be cheaper, less work for you outside of class, and a creative learning experience for your students.
I think you should spend some money on classroom decorations. It can make a room feel better and therefore children feel better and ready to learn.
I would say decorate it yourself but because you asked this question that might be over your art level. So you could buy little kits from teacher stores online. They are not too much money. Only $10 - $15 each. Only get two or three to start off with. You can find them at School Box and order them online.
And make a Welcome poster with the kids names on it.
No, your classroom does not have to have a theme. I would concentrate on making it a friendly, warm room without going over the top on decorations.
I was in this predicament a couple of years ago. Sure, I'm not a 1st grade teacher, but I still wanted some cohesion to the little that I did buy. You will need a calendar and some other bulletin boards, so just get some border that is all the same, or at least coordinates. I run the ESL program, so I wanted to change out my "theme" each month. I did that just by changing my calendar and the couple of bulletin board borders that I had up. I covered my bulletin boards with a pretty light yellow cloth - holds up much longer than butcher paper (which, by the way, your school may provide to you, so don't go buying butcher paper until you know for sure). I selected an "apple" theme to start, so some borders had apples and some had a red gingham pattern. Then I put apples on the calendar for the numbers. Then just had some other apple elements in the room.
Later on, when the fall came, I changed to leaves. Then when winter came, I changed to snowflakes. Spring - flowers. Summer - sunshine.
Also, like I said, your school may provide you with butcher paper. A lot can be done with just paper. You can make trees. I even made a waterfall and river with just paper this past year. Look at some of the other classrooms around you. You may not have to spend any money at all, that is if the school can give you packing tape, too. You'll need that to put up all that paper.
I personally think you should have a theme, but in your case it would be better to do a little at a time and you can also in courage the children to get involved in that theme, such as projects, contest, and volunteers.
Ask friends and neighbors to save magazines and the like for you. Even a public library might be willing to send their throw aways to you.
Of course, you can put up kids' work. You could divide the display space into 3 or 4 areas and assign each area to a group of students to decorate. School bulletins and papers should be put up. If the class as a whole or in groups is working on projects, you can make simple check sheets so the kids can keep track of what's been done and what needs to be done.
No. you have already spent enough. Just get all the kids to do drawings and hang them up. You and the kids can make your own banners and whatnot w/ simple crayons and markers. Theres no need to break your savings for classroom decorations.
I never set up a classroom with a theme for the beginning of the year. It doesn't make sense to me. What's the use setting everything up with ocean life, if you haven't taught your students about ocean life? If you are just putting it up to have something there, it's just decoration which does nothing to TEACH the students. Your classroom should reflect what you are teaching, and as of the first day, you haven't taught anything. However, it should reflect expectations of what is to come. I start the year with colorful empty bulletin boards with a title (such as "Responding to Text"), an organized classroom library (and then teach them how it is used) and neatly organized areas for math and writing centers. The decoration should come as the students give you a product to display. It's their room. Their work, or the products of shared lessons, should be the displayed works of art.
Try the dollar store, Walmart, or even a party supply store. I was able to get a "Tropical" theme from the discount section at the party store. Also, every year I get rid of a lot of stuff for free...ask the teachers in your building or district for donations.
Also, if you have access to a color printer, try:
I worked in a private school for 12 years where supplies were limited. I came up with very creative ways to do things. Does the school have an overhead projector or an opaque machine? I never bought any decorations for school. I made them all and laminated them. Btw, I am not artistic at all. Email me privately if you want some more advice.
I teach K-1 special ed and every year my school has a theme for the year -- last year it was "race to success", this year it is something about "academic excellence." You can use a letter stencil and post a theme but if the school doesn't have one they want you to use school wide, then let the kids help you pick one and decide how to decorate. A simple bulletin board would be fine. I also teach in a low income school and spend my money on books for the kids. Set up a little library in your room and also get lots of kid friendly magazines like Zoo Book, then they have things to look at and learn from when there is free time. You don't need things - you need to care and then be creative and you will do just fine. Good Luck - Melanie
No you don't need a theme. But you should decorate. And that can be done for free. I never have a theme because it's all too matchy-matchy for me, and I have never liked that. Plus I want it to be a place my students like. And if I decorate with a "frog" theme, and a bunch of kids don't like frogs, they will be turned off on the very first day of school. Decorations can be as simple as bulletin boards. You can make borders and bulletin board decorations out of butcher paper and die cut letters (usually provided by all schools, even low-income schools). Don't break the bank buying things for your classroom. You can make almost anything you can buy. It doesn't need to be fancy. The kids will enjoy it just the same.
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