It’s that time of year again! With the new school year right around the corner, many of us are dusting off those classroom shelves and beginning to prep our classrooms for a new crew of science students. Whether you’re new at teaching or a veteran teacher who’s been at this for a while, it’s always exciting to add a fresh spin to your classroom decorations. As you begin collecting classroom decor ideas, here are my favorite tips for decorating your science classroom.
Alright new teachers, this one is for YOU. I know, I know…it can be tempting, especially as a brand new teacher, to spend hours of time scrolling Pinterest and other social media channels looking for classroom theme inspiration and decoration ideas that will truly WOW your new middle school students. But let’s be honest, in your first years of teaching, your time and money are probably better spent elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-designed classroom environment, but it feels important to start with one essential truth:
You DO NOT need a “Pinterest Perfect” classroom to be a good teacher.
As you are attending “new teacher” meetings and pouring through curriculum guides for the first time, I promise you — finding or creating the perfect classroom decorations isn’t worth the stress!! Alright, now that we’ve gotten that important PSA out of the way, let’s tackle my top tips for decorating your science classroom.
#1 – Pick A Theme Your Students Like
One of the best ways to captivate the attention of your students from day one is to pick a classroom theme that will appeal to your students. Are you students big fans of the Marvel movies? Do they love a particular book series? See if you can find a theme that is relevant and exciting to your students that you could use for your themed classroom decor.
#2 – Choose A Color Scheme
Choosing a few coordinating colors is a simple way to achieve a cohesive look throughout your classroom. Without a set color scheme, you run the risk of having a color explosion throughout your room, which can be honestly be too much visual information, especially for students with high sensory needs. Instead, choose 3 or 4 colors that work well together and stick with those.
#3 – Display Student Work
Student work. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to decorate a classroom. (Who doesn’t love that?!) Not only that, but seeing examples of their own work hanging throughout the classroom is a great way to boost student morale and help them feel like they have an important place within the classroom community. I recommend setting aside a bulletin board or a wall dedicated to hanging student work.
#4 – Bulletin Boards
Do you dream of putting together amazing science bulletin boards that cover important science concepts or student work? You’re not alone! I love a good bulletin board. Add some colorful bulletin board paper and carefully chosen posters and you’ve got yourself a winning board! If you need extra help, Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers are packed full of bulletin board resources and inspiration.
#5 – Paint The Walls
Let’s face it, the plain white walls of the the typical middle school classroom hardly communicate “welcoming classroom environment.” But look at it this way: that blank classroom is just a canvas waiting to be transformed into something new! Just imagine for a second that your classroom walls could another color. Maybe a soft relaxing blue? A happy yellow? Or perhaps just a single feature wall? Alright, I realize not every school district will allow this, but you’d be surprised how many will! All you need to do is ask.
#6 – Find Alternative Sources of Light
Be honest with me…Does anyone actually like fluorescent lighting? Personally, I think it’s a little harsh and uninviting. I prefer to find other light sources to use in my classroom. This can look like natural light from a good window, fun rope lights over a bulletin board, or a few strategically placed lamps. These alternatives to overhead lighting make for a much cozier environment.
#7 – Create Another World
What if entering your classroom was like entering an entirely new place? Your classroom could turn into a trip to the rainforest or an underwater ocean adventure! Everything from your wall space to your classroom door can be used to house these unique science classroom decorations. Using themed decor is a fun way to make a trip to science class feel a little extra special.
#8 – Decorate For Yourself
Let’s be honest – you spend way more time in your classroom than anyone else. I’m a pretty firm believer that if you’re going to spend 8 hours a day in a single room, you should love that room! Don’t be afraid to choose classroom decoration ideas that truly speak to you. If you prefer bright colors, go for it! If are a lover of neutrals or prints, have at it! Create a space that will help you as a teacher feel happy and relaxed. Trust me, that will benefit your students too!
#9 – Use Prints and Posters
Part of creating an educational environment is thinking critically about the items you choose to place on your walls. They should have meaning and value. For example, you may choose to hang a poster outlining your classroom rules or important classroom procedures. You might prefer to choose posters that have a “science specific” flare to them, such a periodic table or graphic posters of plant cells.
Here are a few of the poster sets I’ve loved using within my own classroom:
#10 – Anchor charts
Anchor charts are one of my favorite creative ways to involve students in creating classroom decor. During your science lessons, work with your students to create anchor charts detailing some of the most important concepts from the unit. These charts can then be hung around your classroom as visual reminders to assist student learning. Some anchor charts might be applicable for the whole year, while others may change unit to unit.
#11 – Use Nature
We teach science after all! Using natural items is not only an easy way to decorate, but, depending on the items you choose, can be a great conversation starter as your work on building relationships with your new students. One year, I had a really cool hornet nest on a limb hanging from my classroom ceiling that my students LOVED to ask about!
Here are some other examples:
- Pressed leaves
- Indoor plants
- Skulls or other animal bones
- Slices of wood
#12 – Don’t Forget The Ceiling
If you are looking for different ways to display student work or classroom decor, don’t forget to use your ceiling! You’ll have ample space for hanging rope lights or 3D projects created by your students. There are so many things that can be hung from the ceiling to create a really cool 3D decorating experience.
#13 – Try a classroom pet
That’s right! Classroom pets can actually be part of your classroom decor (especially in a science classroom.) Having a classroom pet is fun and exciting for younger students and older students alike. Adding a small fish tank or pet turtle might be just the thing to take your science classroom to the next level.
Now, obviously you won’t need to use all of these tips for decorating your science classroom, but hopefully you’ll find two or three that really speak to you!
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