Bulletin boards in the classroom? They’re kind of a big deal. But boy, do they give us teachers a run for our money.
Picture this: You need to come up with a kick-butt theme for your bulletin board. One that will be fun, keep students engaged, impress administrators, but also ties in with what you’re teaching. So, you spend hours and hours cutting out letters, drawing, sticking stuff on, and hoping it’ll turn out great. But when you step back, it’s not exactly the showstopper you imagined. Plus, you’ll need to change it pretty often, so whatever you put up there isn’t going to be there for long. It feels like you’re giving up your precious time for a bulletin board that may not even get much of a second glance.
And then there’s the problem of making these bulletin boards something all students can use and learn from. Let’s taken Susan, for example. She spends loads of time of working on a “Habitat’s” board, with pockets full of fun animal facts and super detailed drawings. But after she put it all up, she saw her shorter studetns couldn’t reach the pockets. She wasn’t able to get in on the fun. It’s like a punch in the gut when you realize that not every kid in your class can use this awesome learning tool you’ve spent so much time on.
When you put all of this together, it’s pretty clear that creating bulletin boards is no piece of cake. For teachers, it can feel like walking a tightrope, trying to make the boards fun, educational, easy to use for all students, and nice to look at. And all this while trying to not let it eat up all of your free time. No wonder teachers often feel like they’ve been thrown into the deep end when it comes to making a classroom bulletin board.
I’m here to save the day! I have 10 quick and easy tips for creating bulletin boards in elementary school. Let’s get started!
1. Use fabric.
Use fabric on all of your bulletin boards. You won’t ever have to change it again! My tip is to use a cotton material. I’ve used the same black fabric for the last 4 years. It’s easy, doesn’t take away from the work on the bulletin board, and it lasts. It may be a little pricier to start with, but it will absolutely save you money long term. Be sure to measure your board before you get fabric!
2. Solid Color Backgrounds Only.
I’m very passionate about using solid colors only. The background should complement, not overpower the content. When you use a pattern on the fabric and then put papers, letters, and student work on display in front the busy background, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Remember, you’re designing a space for children. Their eyes will go to the most colorful and busiest patterns. That’s not what you want the students to focus on when talking about bulletin boards.
3. Don’t overthink things. Keep it simple.
The purpose of your bulletin board is to display student work OR to display teaching tools for students to use. It should be easy on the eyes and not take away from learning resources. Stay away from patterns and hard-to-read fonts like cursive. Remember that the bulletin board is for YOUR students. Not you.
4. How can you make it easier for FUTURE YOU?
If you’re looking to display student work, how can you make it easier for FUTURE YOU? Can you use clothespins and just change out student work regularly? Can you attach clear page protectors and slide work in and out on a regular basis? Can you mount clipboards and just change out the paper displayed on the clipboard? Again, make it easy. The easier it is for you, the more likely you are to change out student work in the future.
5. Want perfect spacing on your bulletin board?
Frustrated with not getting the spacing perfect on your bulletin boards? Instead of stapling right away, use thumbtacks to temporarily design your bulletin board. Then, once it’s perfectly placed, you can staple the pieces in place.
6. Have limited bulletin boards or run out of bulletin board space?
There are other options! Can you use 3M hooks on your wall to create more space to display? Can you use a wire to create a clothesline? Use binder clips or clothespins to attach student work to the line. Be careful: Our Fire Marshall doesn’t like paper hanging on the walls and limits it to less than 60% of the wall being covered.
7. It’s okay to start the year with a blank bulletin board.
I know we always feel pressured to have a Pinterest perfect room when students come in, especially for events like Meet the Teacher or Open House. But, it’s okay to put up the background and the border and leave the bulletin board blank. You can always hang signs that say “Work in Progress” or “Amazing Work Coming Soon” to fill the space, if you’d like.
I love involving students in the creation process of the bulletin boards. Make it a big deal that it’s student created and the students “own” the bulletin board. This will make them feel invested in the bulletin board, all year long. Have students create the artwork, letters, or even help with stapling the pieces on the board. This shared responsbility can also foster classroom community and teamwork.
8. Make the Bulletin Board Interactive
One of the best tips for bulletin boards is to make them interactive. Incorporate QR codes that link to educational websites. Create pockets filled with book recommendations, Early Finisher Activities, board game templates, classroom jobs, or wordsearches. An interactive board transforms passive observers into active learners.
I created these Careers in Science, Inventors, Black History Month, and Women in STEM bulletin boards with the idea to keep it interactive. Each bulletin board set comes with a recording sheet. Students will write down facts that they find from the bulletin board. This would make a great early finisher task, center activity, or morning bellwork assignment. Students are getting to truly interact with the content on the bulletin board.
I also created this Book Review Bulletin board to keep near your classroom library. As students find books they love, they’ll pick a shape and write a quick book recommendation. Students can then hang up their recommendation on the bulletin board. Students are recommending books to their classmates AND students who struggle finding books can use this bulletin board. This is a win-win!
9. Think Long-Term
How long will you plan to keep this bulletin board? Is it something you can use all year round and just change out student work? If this is the case, put time in your calendar in 3-4 weeks to change out student work. If it’s written down and scheduled, you’re more likely to actually do it.
Is it a focus on a holiday and will need to be changed in a month or two? Again, write it in your calendar so you’ll remember to make it a priority. Nothing is worse than realizing you’ve had a Back to School bulletin board up all year…and it’s now February (speaking from experience)! When you do go to change the bulletin board out, keep what you can! Keep the borders and the background the same so you can save yourself some time!
10. Feeling real lazy? Here’s a time saver!
Create a bulletin board as a space to display your anchor charts. I did this when I taught in 4th grade and it was the greatest, most simplest idea ever! Just leave your bulletin board completely blank. As you create anchor charts together with your class, display the anchor chart right on the bulletin board. You can have several anchor charts on display at once (depending on how large your board is) and you can swap them out as you move on in the subject area. Quickest! Easiest! Cheapest!
In the world of elementary classrooms, a bulletin board is so much more than just a decorated wall. It’s a vibrant showcase of learning, a window into new concepts, and a shared project that can create a sense of community among students. But as we’ve discovered, making an awesome board that ticks all these boxes can be a bit of a juggling act. That’s where our 10 tips for bulletin boards come in. They give you practical ways to choose engaging themes, get the kids involved, make the boards interactive and accessible, balance text with images, and keep everything fresh and interesting.
With these tips in your teacher toolkit, you’ll be able to conquer the bulletin board challenge. No more stressing over themes or spending your weekends knee-deep in craft supplies. No more worrying about whether all your students can use and learn from the board. Instead, you can create a learning space that brings your classroom to life, sparks your students’ curiosity, and ties in perfectly with what you’re teaching. You’ve got this, and your amazing, engaging, and educational bulletin boards will be the proof!
Want to see other bulletin boards in action? Click here!
Save these ideas for later!
Be sure to pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back again and again for bulletin board tips and tricks. This will help make your teacher life easier and less stressful!