Back to School: Easy Changes to Boost the Mood of Your Elementary Classroom

Emma Foley
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on September 06 2022

Looking back, now that I am out of the classroom, the amount of hours I spent preparing my classroom before the start of school was absolutely insane. Each year, you say you are going to reuse what you already have (e.g. actually putting back up all those bulletin letters you carefully removed at the end of last year), but let’s be honest, we never do. I would spend countless hours determining a theme and then creating decorations to fit that theme.  On those few days we got to set up before the students arrived, I would even drive myself nuts smoothing out any bumps in my bulletin backing paper. If you’re like me, each year is a complete overhaul of the previous year’s look and you are determined to make it even better.

What if I told you that a few minor changes can help you to achieve that cozy, happy feel you are going for in your classroom? Let’s talk about some foolproof classroom additions you can add that can really boost the mood of your elementary classroom, with much less effort than most of us are putting in.

1) Revitalize your bulletin boards with peel & stick wallpaper

Wallpaper? In the classroom? How? Why?

Now that I look back, I wonder why this never crossed my mind when I was decorating my classroom. This could be a solution if you are working in a classroom with concrete walls, but also a great option if you have actual bulletin boards. Why do I love this so much? Because you can go as crazy as you like with the pattern, or keep it super simple if that’s the vibe you are going for. You can pretty much find any pattern to go along with the mood you are trying to create. My personal favorite is a speckled or fun, geometric pattern!

Using wallpaper is going to cut back on all those extras that you find yourself adding to your bulletin boards. Not to mention, the durability and reduced likelihood of it fading throughout the year. I know there are teachers out there that can relate to the struggle of trying to get the attention of your students after your bulletin board starts falling apart in the middle of your lesson. I may be going out on a limb, but I would say that this wallpaper will probably look just as good in June as it does in September (we can’t say the same for backing paper). Run to your local craft store or Target and grab as many rolls as you can!

2) Welcome desk pets

If you aren’t allowed to have an actual class pet, what’s the next best thing? Desk pets! I used to stock my prize bin with these animal-shaped erasers, but you might want to consider giving them a new home. Reserve a section of your classroom for a desk pet center. Maybe you will decide to allow students to select a new desk pet each day, or perhaps they will adopt a pet for the week. Either way, this is an easy, affordable way to get your students excited about learning as they have a little animal friend to accompany them on all their learning adventures! I could definitely see this being a hit in a K-2 classroom. You can find them in bulk online at either Amazon or Oriental Trading, but I am sure any local store probably has them in the dollar section as well!

If you are looking for a class pet project with a little more of a STEM focus, our Class Pet Project-Based Learning iBlock may pique your interest. Not only is it a great hands-on learning opportunity for your students, but they continue with the class pet theme and create a new classroom addition from the STEM robots you already have.

Back to School: Easy Changes to Boost the Mood of Your Elementary Classroom

You can find out more information about iBlocks and our other iBlock topics on our website

3) Give writing choices

Elementary education may look a little different from when we were kids, but one thing that has remained true; kids love writing with something other than a pencil! Student choice is huge in education right now and only takes a little effort to incorporate. For example, you can designate an area in your classroom where students can select a special writing tool or some fancy paper. Simple choices like this can go a really long way. If you are like me, you might be cringing at the word “pen,” especially in an elementary classroom, but what I have found is that there are so many erasable options now. A personal favorite of mine is FriXion. These are even great for teacher planning or for planning in your own daily life!

4) Use a digital sign maker

If I were setting up my classroom with all these special additions, you would probably even catch me creating some fun signage, using a program like Canva, to go along with my theme. Not familiar with Canva? Check out our Introduction to Canva course for a beginner’s tutorial. Here are some fun signs I put together, each only taking a few minutes to make using the templates in the Canva library.

Back to School: Easy Changes to Boost the Mood of Your Elementary Classroom

Back to School: Easy Changes to Boost the Mood of Your Elementary Classroom

Of course, there are many other design programs out there that make it easy to create virtually any signage for your class. Gone are the days of cutting out letters!

Maybe it took me becoming a parent to realize that the simplest updates can bring a smile to a child’s face (or maybe just too many hours spent scrolling #teachertok).  I hope you found this list of no-brainer updates useful. I know they would’ve made my life so much easier. What clever time-saving tricks do you have that help you prepare your classroom? Share in the comments below!

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more content on the Teq Talk blog or our YouTube channels OTIS for educators and Tequipment.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and support with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology and strategies that spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening!

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