It’s Back-to-school time, and you’ve really gotta hand it to teachers who go the extra mile to set up creative classrooms with colorful bulletin boards and all kinds of artwork. Using the most basic of supplies — usually just colored paper, scissors and a stapler — their efforts welcome and inspire students who will be spending much of their foreseeable future staring at those walls.
When I was in 8th grade, my Typing teacher, Mrs. Ledbetter, gave me carte blanche to decorate her bulletin boards. I know what you’re thinking and, yes, YES, there was such a thing as typewriters before computers. But more importantly, she let ME do what ever I wanted with no direction whatsoever. Let’s face it… not every teacher has that creative gene and they’d much rather have someone else do it for them. Fortunately, what Mrs. Ledbetter did have was giant rolls of felt in different colors. I used them to make a huge green and yellow smiling turtle. I surrounded him with white daisies that had drooping petals. The room became an over-sized garden that had absolutely nothing to do with typing. But being in that classroom made me happy. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of decorating two other classrooms. I only took pictures of one of them. It was a classroom where children were made to feel like they were camping.
Using three sheets of colored paper, the kind that comes in giant spools, I was able to cover an entire wall from top to bottom. I used brown for the ground, a dark blue for the lake, and a lighter blue for the sky. The colors weren’t the exact shades I needed, but I worked with what I could get. I cut out my pieces, and overlapped them, stapling them to the wall. The only thing I had to work around was a fire extinguisher, which there was no disguising, so I ended up painting the backdrop to look as if it was mounted to a wooden pole. Yeah, cause you see fire extinguishers on wooden poles out in the wilderness all the time.
Maybe I could have come up with something better for the extinguisher, but I only had one day to decorate, and I had to think fast. Everything else looked pretty good though. I painted snow capped mountains, evergreen trees, a campfire and a canoe. I also took some old pieces of scrap wood to create free-standing signs, pointing kids in the direction of the lake and make believe bait shop, and hiking trails. I found some big rocks to cover the bottom.
I made a log cabin out of some of the leftover brown paper, and even pulled out some mini frosted Christmas trees to use as props, while some of the other helpers set up a tent, covered the tables with black table cloths, and then used lanterns as centerpieces.
Talk about going all out! The only thing missing was the s’mores! But it shows you, in this day and age, where teachers are given very little to work with, they can still have creative classrooms, that inspire learning and leave lasting memories.