If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.

This week we're focusing on your classroom walls. Today I want to talk about covering the walls.  However, I must first post a disclaimer.  Many schools have fire codes.  Know yours.  Personally, I think it's a bit silly that a building filled with graph paper, construction paper, primary-ruled paper, intermediate-ruled paper, drawing paper, etc limits the amount of wall space that can be covered, but I digress.

Covering your walls is a great way to bring the room together and to hide any unsightly chips, yucky colored paint and institution-feeling cinderblock walls.

When it comes to covering classroom walls, I simply must direct you to the fabulous Cara Carroll. Her floor to ceiling displays are so dramatic and appealing. Below is one photo from her blog.  You definitely need to hop on over and see the rest of her room. Gorgeous!

{photo source}
Below are some other pictures for inspiration on how you might cover a large space.

{photo source}

{photo source}

Covering wall space allows you to create displays in different areas.

{blue word wall photo source}
{map photo source}

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.

This week we're focusing on your classroom walls. Today's tip is to use black borders to create a more uniform look.  I've seen classrooms that use just a simple, solid, black border which looks lovely.  I mixed it up a bit by using black borders with grey/white designs.  Below are a few pictures of my room from last summer using the black borders. 

{click here for the Original Post this picture was used in}
{click here for the original post this picture was used in}

This week we are focusing on making your classroom walls appear clutter-free and visually appealing.  Today’s tip is to stick with a simply color scheme.  I am a HUGE fan of black.  It matches everything.  It’s neat.  It’s sleek.  It’s slimming. :)
I choose to combine black, with aqua and lime green this year.  
Aqua and red are pretty trendy right now.
Nate Berkus tells me that tangerine is the color of the year.
Pinks and browns are still pretty popular.
Greens and blues are calming.
Basically, you want to pick colors that you love, that compliment each other and that will provide a nice background for your room.
I suggest buying black or white baskets, bins, and other storage goodness because you can reuse them if you change colors or themes.
Below are some of the lovely classrooms found online.
The first picture is from Kristen’s classroom.  If you know her, you already love her.  If not I recommend you pour a cup of coffee and settle in for a treat because her blog is pure awesomeness.  Yesterday I posted about using black borders.  She actually does the opposite with a dark background and blue borders.  LOVE it!

{photo source}

{photo source}
{photo source}
{photo source}

{photo source}

This week we're focusing on your classroom walls. Today's tip is to cover any open shelves (meaning shelves and cabinets that lack doors) to hide the visual clutter.  I did a post last August that explained in detail how I covered my shelves (shown below) using posterboard from the dollar store and some ribbon.  You can read that post here.

It seems like every teacher I talk to all says the same are less and less attentive each year.  For that reason alone it is so important to eliminate as much distraction from learning as possible. I think the most dramatic evidence I've ever seen of the effect covering open shelving has on helping eliminate distraction has to be Jessica Meacham's classroom.  Below are the before and after photos of her shelving.

Is that not amazing?  

Another idea is to use curtains to cover your shelves. With many shelving units you can do this easily with a tension rod at the top.

{photo source}
{photo source}

My Student Work Board for the 2011-2012 School Year:

I once loved creating bulletin boards.

And by loved I mean LOVED.
I would plan them in my head and tweak them until the reality matched the vision.
At the risk of being institutionalized, I will admit that I have used actual levels and tape measures to perfect them.
Each was a work of art worthy of it’s own gallery premiere. People should have worn black dresses and tuxes as they sipped wine and stared in awe as they discussed the merits of my work.
And then the desire slowly fizzled and the demands grew and time became limited and priorities changed and now bulletin boards have become something else on the to do list. Occasionally, the creative bug will bite and I’ll go all old school and whip up a masterpiece, but for the most part I try to keep it simple.
I have a lot of “interactive bulletin boards” in my classroom now. These are things like word walls, a weekly language arts focus wall and my CAFÉ board that are ongoing throughout the year. But, there are those boards that need to be changed regularly. One simple way to do that is to create a board that is maintained by your students.
Provide each student with a space on the wall that belongs to him. You could hang a background paper and label it with the child’s name. Let the student select what he wants to display and allow him to put up the work he wants to showcase in that spot.
Below are a few simple options to make changing the work quick and easy:
  • Slip a paperclip over the back of the construction paper background. The child can slip his work under the clip.
  • Attach a self-sticking plastic clip (same effect as the paper clip, but more costly)
  • Mount photo corners to the background paper. This looks very cool and artsy, but has some downfalls. The children are limited to the size of the work they can hang and some lack the fine motor skills to use the photo corners.
  • Tie a line of string, twine or fishing line and provide each student with a clothespin that has his name on it to hang the work with.
  • Staple a large Ziploc bag to the wall and let the students slip the work into the bag.

I use my friends pictures in my classroom any chance I get. These clothespins are a great way to incorporate their smiling faces. I especially like this idea for preK and K students since the name isn't always obvious on their work.

You simply must view the tutorial on how to make these darling clips. You'll be rushing out to the craft store. They can be used to hang work from a clothesline. And since they are written in chalk you can use them over and over. I feel a project coming on in my house. ;)

My love affair with Eloise's classroom continues. Check out her bright clothesline. With the black background I would imagine the students' work will pop.


Here are a few other prior posts that may be helpful when planning your "walls" for next year:

By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.