Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bulletin Board Life Hacks

Hi, Teachers!

How is everyone's year going? I hope it's going well! I've been trying SO many new things this year, and I'm super excited about them. I haven't written much because... well, as you all know, the first month of school takes over your life!!!! But I'm proud to say that I'm finally starting to get back into my routine. Personally, my life has been more crazy than usual because I'm planning a wedding now too! We set our date for July 10th, and I just picked a dress! Once we get a photographer and a DJ, things will be much more smooth sailing from here on out.

Anyway, with things so crazy right now, I am ALL about saving myself TIME. One thing that seems to take up a lot of time are my bulletin boards. I LOVE looking on Pinterest and seeing all the pretty bulletin boards, but I'm not going to lie... planning my strategy groups and assessing students is a much better use of my time. I found the perfect system for saving myself time when it comes to bulletin boards. I have got some really cute ones that don't take time, and I'm going to share them with you today! So without further adeiu, here are my....

BULLETIN BOARD LIFE HACKS FOR THE CREATIVELY-CHALLENGED, BUSY, AND/OR STRESSED TEACHER!


1. Fabric
I cannot stress the importance of fabric here. If you go to JoAnn's Fabrics, you can find TONS of gorgeous fabrics or plain fabrics that are CRAZY cheap. They always have coupons online, so it is not rare that you can get fabric for $1 to $2 per yard. Measure your bulletin board space and back it with fabric. Why does this help? Well, it doesn't fade, so you can use it year after year. I have seen some bulletin boards around my school which have had the same borders and same fabric background for at least 10 years. They still look great! Why spend your time and money on replacing paper and borders them all the time? Pick something you will like color-wise all year, and leave it on forever! 



2. Seasonal changes for outside bulletin boards
I like to change my bulletin boards that are outside of my room once per season. The work I hang outside of my room is either something we are REALLY proud of, or hopefully something interactive. Let me show you what I mean with last year's bulletin boards....

A Word On Third

I start the year with a simple bulletin board. I just post my students' names and the words "We're Happy To 'Bee' In Third Grade." When I'm done with this bulletin board, I PACK IT UP IN A BAG TO USE FOR NEXT YEAR. Yeah, you heard that right! I put all the letters away in a bag, put a small post-it or index card in the bag and write down what's inside of it, and I use it again the following year. This was last year's bulletin board. I've since spruced this year's up with a little bit of tissue paper. I added some tissue paper grass at the bottom and instead of die-cut leaves, I just bunched on tissue paper as leaves again. This tree was actually really easy to make. If you google "tree bulletin board" or input "tree bulletin board" into the search bar on Pinterest, you will find tutorials for sure. It took me 5 minutes to make MAX last year, and I haven't touched it once since.


In the fall, I do the same thing. I take it all out of last year's bag and use it again...

A Word On Third

In the fall, I add some some colored leaves that I got for a dollar in some discount bin (probably from Target). This year, since I don't have die-cut leaves, I may add a bit of colored tissue paper as well. I have the kids work on writing a book recommendation which includes text evidence as part of their reasoning for why it is so awesome. I also require them to be specific about what they like about the author's writing style. This board is now interactive because kids can walk by and check it out and get ideas for what book to read. I will probably add a sign on the wall next to it this year that draws kids' attention to it.


Then winter comes. It's time to change my bulletin board. I pack up my fall bag and get out my winter bag. This is what goes up on my wall...

A Word On Third

In my classroom, we are working hard on our study of immigration by this point in the year. The big project I assign during this unit is for the kids to create family tree posters. They also create family crests. They work REALLY hard on these, so I want to display them. The family trees get posted all around the bulletin board (you can see the corner of one right under my logo), and they are usually so big that I have to travel to across from my bulletin board as well! The nice thing is that since I chose to use a tree in my bulletin board, family TREES still fit with the theme. Phew! I take off the leaves, add some cotton balls, and I'm done. I already have the letters cut and ready to go from year to year. By the way... Dollar Tree sells AWESOME stenciled letters in the teacher section. Get four or five in your favorite color and you're set for the whole year!


Spring time is rolling around. That means one last change. I chose to do a book recommendation again, because why not make things easy on myself? It fits with the curriculum, it's pretty, and it is interactive for the kids in the hallway passing by.

A Word On Third

You can see here that I realized how AWESOME tissue paper is. It's SO much easier to deal with. If you choose to go this route, you can even add some of the display covers of the books your kids choose in the background.


This system works REALLY well for me. I change my bulletin boards four times a year only, and you know what? That's ok. That's enough. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are enough just how we are, and making gorgeous bulletin boards is NOT what makes us a good teacher.



3. Student help
You heard that right! I let my students help me with this, and I have great reasoning for it... it BUILDS MY COMMUNITY. When students create this kind of stuff, it makes them so proud. One thing I like to do is have lunch with a handful of students every couple of weeks. I call it "lunch munch." Sometimes I use this as a reward for my struggling learners who are on behavior plans as well, but no matter what, everyone gets the opportunity to join me for a lunch munch at least once during the year. During lunch munch, I let students help me create the bulletin boards with me. It's really easy to get this done in 20 minutes when you have 4 extra pairs of hands helping you. The kids are excited beyond belief to get to do this as well. It's great for indoor recess days where the kids don't really enjoy recess, but I give kids an option to leave for recess if it's nice out. More often than not, they want to stay. I get to spend some time getting to know my students, we make something together that we're proud of, and the class is always thrilled to see what my lunch munch buddies made when they get back. It's good feelings all around, but it just so happens to be really convenient too. I am so glad I thought of this!



4. Timeless pieces
I am a firm believer that the space for charts and bulletin boards in my room is at a premium, and I do NOT hang stuff up no matter how cute it is UNLESS IT HAS A PURPOSE. That means all of those cute posters I see about reading and character education at the Lakeshore store does not go on my wall. (Nothing wrong with them... I just feel that I use charts so often that they won't fit. I don't want to overwhelm the kids with too much "stuff.")

What I DO do is put timeless pieces on my wall, or switch out anchor charts. Anchor charts are part of teaching, and yes, they take time to make. (On a side note, I suggest checking out the book Smarter Charts... TOTALLY changed my charts for the better). So, one of the bulletin boards on my wall doesn't change much at all from year to year. All of my fellow Responsive Classroom junkies out there will be familiar with "CARES." These are the five skills I really teach into ALL YEAR. I refer to them daily when giving positive reinforcement, reminding my students of things, and redirecting them. I post my hopes and dreams, which stay up all year, right along with my CARES. You can read a bit more about how the CARES values can be connected to literacy curriculum here.

Here's what my bulletin board looks like before we post our hopes and dreams:

A Word On Third

All I have to do each year is swap out the hopes and dreams, and for the first week of school, there is nothing below the words in CARES.


5. Get creative with space
Last but not least, I make use of space I don't "have." I put some clotheslines around my room and clip my student's work to it that I want to display. Here's an example of an old Earth Day display.

A Word On Third

All I do is unclip and re-clip when I switch work out... or when I let the kids switch work out! 


That's all for today, guys. I hope my life hacks help to make your year easier and give you some new ideas. With a small amount of effort in the beginning, you have a very easy system for the rest of the year... and beyond! What bulletin board hacks do you guys use? Comment below!

1 comment:

  1. I've used fabric instead of paper for years! Love it! I'm definitely going to make better use of clotheslines. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete