Staying late on a Friday night to cut out thirty-eight individual paper apples when you could be on a date? Looking to regain a life while still feeling like you’re going the distance for your job? I hear you. This list includes some of the ideas I found most helpful during my years in the trenches.
Wall of Fame.
For a super-simple bulletin board the students always get excited about, I find it hard to beat this one. All you need are a colored background, simple border, and letters for the “Wall of Fame” title. As students turn in fabulous work, it goes up on the board. One idea that works well is to incorporate an excellent piece of work from each student. They don’t all have to go up at once, which is part of the motivation for students to continue to do their best job. Once everyone has earned a spot on the Wall of Fame via a spelling test, book project, math quiz or whatever, it is time to take down the items for portfolio filing and start again. If you skip the scotch tape and opt for push pins or staples, this board should easily last you through an entire school year. I especially like this idea because it allows you to honor the strengths of all your students, not just the ones who do well on the more traditional types of assignments.
Re-invent the traditional flannel board.
Instead of an old-fashioned portable flannel board, consider using flannel instead of paper to cover a regular-sized bulletin board. Then just trim and title with die-cut letters as usual. This way, you’ve always got a spot for flannel board story retellings, year-to year vocabulary activities, and more.
In the News.
Using solid black paper for the first set of “shadow” letters, cut out a second set of letters from a sturdy black and white news print source. I’ve found magazine pages are a bit sturdier than newspaper, and have a brighter contrast between the black and white. You’ll also want to make sure that you cut the newsprint letters from a portion of the print source that has consistent text only, not captions and images. Next, attach the shadow letters behind the solid black letters with the shadow letters peeking out from the left hand side. Then, select your background paper color for the bulletin board. Personally, I think red looks really dramatic against the black and white. Now, center the “In the News” caption towards the top of the bulletin board. Voila! Now you have a functional, year-round bulletin board where you can post students’ rotating current event assignments, or the current batch of never ending bulletins, calendars and announcements from your school’s office or PTA. You know the ones . . .
Daily Math Board.
I’ve seen and used ideas for this that came in kits, but there are many ways to put up an interactive daily math skills boards that keeps your kids interested all year long. Personally, I think it’s helpful if they are the longer horizontal kind, but that’s just me. I think this orientation allows for a table or long book shelf underneath where you can store on-the-fly supplies such as push pins, erasable markers, post its, calendar pieces, chart replacements, etc. Basically, think of any skills you will need to be repeating throughout the year, and work in a repeating activity that will drive the skill home. I use this for those first few minutes after roll call when there may still be a straggler or two. Some things to include?
- Doing a comparison graph of temperatures between your class location and that of a class pen pal
- Converting the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius
- Counting the tally of school days on a roll-out adding machine tape and circling every fifth or tenth day (younger grades)
- Daily math calculation or word problem appropriate to your grade level
I like doing this because it puts all of those incidental math tools in one location, providing predictable and organized math support for the entire year. Since math topics rarely make the “bulletin board cut” so to speak, this is a great way to set an extra academic tone in your classroom.
Food for Thought.
This is another one of those bulletin boards for multiple grade levels. Various things can be included such as a grab pocket of inspirational learning and self esteem quotes, a problem-solving chart for what to do if they finish work early, a supply of story starter ideas, daily brain teaser . . . you get the idea. This is basically a resource for them to go to instead of interrupting work you may be doing with a small group or individual.
These are my titles and ideas for bulletin boards that can take you from start to finish each school year, leaving you with lots of time and energy for parent communication, lesson planning, and . . . oh, I don’t know . . . a life? Don’t forget to sound off if you’ve got another fabulous suggestion for saving bulletin board stress. I’m sure we could all benefit from additional ideas and strategies.
Flickr Photo Credit: Fred Hsu