There are so many different ways to organise your classroom and displays can play a big part. Theres so many options for how to display and what to display and it can be incredibly difficult to decide the best things to put up around the room to enhance the learning environment. I like to have a couple of displays up and ready before the children come back. Other teachers prefer to have a blank canvas and allow the children the freedom to decide what should be on display around their room. It really is completely up to you!
What is the purpose of displays?
Displays can really enhance a learning environment. Different displays have different purposes.
- Reference point for children
- Showcase childrens work
- Special event (special visitors to the school, official opening, parents evening etc.)
- Show what is being covered in class
Displays that work all year long!
I usually have some displays that can stay up all year organised before the children return;
Birthday display – Just add lollipop sticks as candles and the childs name and its finished!
Calendar display – this is nice at the junior end of the school when children are learning the days of the week, months etc. It can be great at senior end to show important days/ whats happening in the school/ local area etc. I bought this one in Cahills – a newsagents in Tramore, Waterford. Theres a similar available from Michael Doherty School Supplies – see here.
Visual timetable – this is always a nice one to have which can be used throughout the year too.
Word Wall – this is the word wall I used with 5th class a couple of years ago. I printed the new words in colour every 2-3 days and the children arranged them with their letter of the alphabet. Last year, I didn’t have much space so just had a small version – not in alphabetical order.
Reading Zone/Library Area
Using paper plates to make a sign is really effective! This area was the ‘quiet’ zone of the classroom where children could go to read.
One day, our teddies came in for a Gaeilge lesson – here they are sitting in the Reading area.
I also like to have a WOW work display. I made this one last year – its missing a heading!
Some teachers also like to display some things from their first topic/ theme/ unit from Day 1 – I prefer to do a brainstorm with the children first and then create the display.
Teacher area – I got this fabulous bunting from a follower last year and LOVE it! I think its important for the teacher to have their own area in the classroom with their desk, important notes/reminders, artwork/cards from the children etc. on display so I placed my bunting in this area.
I first started using Working Walls when I was teaching in the U.K. and have found them really effective. Basically working walls are changed regularly so are perfect for Maths/Literacy. Some things you might include;
- We are learning to…
- Steps to Success
- Sample problems/questions
- Facts display (for current topic or something that children are finding difficult)
Here are some examples;
This was my Maths working wall towards the end of the year in 3rd class
Step by step displays
Fadeless backing paper is a must to cover display boards. Some teachers use wrapping paper (personally I would only use plain colours on backing paper as its difficult to see it when there is another pattern and I think it looks too busy and its impossible to find what you are looking for!) If you can get a friend to help – it will save you lots of time and hassle!
- First measure the board (I find using a metre stick works best).
- Next layout the backing paper on some empty tables.
- Roll out the amount needed and cut. Try to make one cut and then let the scissors glide. (Always give yourself a bit more than what you originally measured.
- Open the stapler and use this to staple the paper in place on the display board. (Check if there is a staple gun in the school – will save you lots of time.) While doing this smooth the paper with your hand so you don’t end up with any bumps.
- Next open the scissors and use it like a knife to cut off any excess backing paper.
- Finally get a border and measure it up to the display board. Staple this on top.
All displays should have a title – so once you have added the backing paper, decide what you will use the board for and add a heading.
Deciding what to display
- There should be a mix of text and pictures.
- Childrens work should make up part of the display.
- Try to make it as clear as possible.
- Use a font that is legible and clear. Use a font size of at least 100 (otherwise children will not be able to see what is written from their seats!)
- Line things up properly. (You can get an app for your phone that acts as a level meter to check things are in line.)
- I find that staples and blu/white tack work better than the large push pins – and look better too!
- Be careful when laminating items for display – as they can be difficult to read if the light shines on them.
- Don’t overload – the display will never be a reference point if children need to spend 10 minutes searching for relevant information.
This fixed/growth mindset that I made last year is my favourite display. It is very clear and easy to read. The children referred to it constantly throughout the year. The only things I would change is the h in growth (shouldn’t be orange) and the orange bubble as it doesn’t stand out like it should.
Where to source materials needed for displays
This can be bought in most educational supply shops – see some links below;
Letters for display
You can download letters for display from websites such as Twinkl. They usually have lots to chose from or you can create your own. I got plain letters and printed them on card in the past.
You can also buy packs of plastic letters – I saw these in Mr Price the other day.
- Many educational companies sell posters which can be used for displays.
- If you visit local museums/monuments you’ll likely get posters suitable for your local area.
- Often the INTO magazine has posters that are great for SESE.
- You can make your own.
Hope this post helps when you’re getting your classroom set up!