When I look back at my first years of teaching, I can't believe what my displays used to look like. They have definitely improved throughout the years. Like children, we should look for and be able to see progress in our own work (if not, you are not doing it right!). Everybody who knows me will not be surprised to hear that I've always found joy in making displays. There is something very peaceful and therapeutic about cutting, laminating and pasting without being disturbed by others (I'm a dork, I know!).
During my first years of teaching, I didn't have real bulletin boards which made everything look more disorganized. I also used to buy one pack of letters and trace them with construction paper. That was until I went to London and found out about websites that provide free lettering! In this post, I will show you some displays and how to make them look more attractive.
This is how you can make your displays "POP":
1. Laminate Everything (or whatever you could)
I know this seems like a waste and many people cannot be bothered but it makes a huge difference in the way things look. Also, after it is laminated, it won't tear when you try to take work off the display. When you laminate everything, it only takes minutes to put up a whole display! It makes for easier application and clean up.
2. Post Photos
If it was a fun experiment or something photo worthy, why not post photos of it? People who view your display can really visualize what happened during the particular lesson or event that the display is about. The children who look at it are reminded of what they have learnt as well as the highlights.
3. Create a Title
The title of your display is very important. Usually, you should try to be creative with it. Sometimes, it is better for it to be literal. It depends on what it is and how old your children are.
4. Be Selective with the Lettering
The lettering is very important. Choose something that would match the colour scheme of the work that will go on your display. I usually download free lettering from Instant Displays. But you can also find ones on Sparklebox, Twinkl or other sites. After you figure out your title, write it down and count the number of each letter that you will need. Then, only print the pages that you need. For Instant Displays, you can even copy the letters into a Word Document so that you don't waste paper.
5. Provide Captions and Key Vocabulary
You should make a few captions to explain what the display is about. Your own class knows what it's about but parents and other people might not know at first glance.
6. Use Matching Borders
In some countries, such as South Korea, it is difficult to find a wide variety of borders at the school. Instead, there are free ones to be found on Instant Displays and other sites. I prefer to laminate these. They look good and they are totally free!
7. Plan Ahead
Always envision your display before you actually make it. What will you need? How will it look like? Do you have enough space? Prepare your materials such as sticky tac (works much better than tape and it doesn't ruin the work or backing), stapler, borders, etc.
8. Make it POP
If you've laminated everything, you can now staple it at different angles and make them stick out for a 3-D effect like the examples below. I learned this trick from my school in London and loved the idea. I usually only staple once on both ends of a paper or sign. Sometimes, I choose to staple diagonally or randomly like the "even houses" in the Odd and Event Street display.
Here are some examples:
Odd and Even Street
Help Save Humpty
This was a display for an egg drop experiment. The photos were of the kids protecting their egg and the actual egg drop itself. The actual Humpty was really easy to make because I just drew and cut everything out including the eyebrows and everything! When cutting things out, it is important to mirror your drawings to make it symmetrical (i.e. the jacket and eyes). The blush was applied with chalk. Sometimes, there isn't room to display everyone's work so instead, I showed photos of students whose work wasn't up. Also, I keep those students in mind and make sure their work is displayed in the future. It's difficult to fit 30 pieces of paper into a small display! :P
Greetings around the World
My class was very multicultural and the kids loved looking at this display and seeing where everyone was from. The point of this display was to see all of the different languages that we speak (or our parents speak) besides English. This was a little difficult to position and it took some time to get it right! If you're not sure how much space you need, you should use sticky tac first before stapling. Putting borders on the photos is also a good idea! It looks much better than without.
At this school, in the beginning of the year, children are asked to make aspirational targets to state what they want to be when they grow up. This is a great way for them to assess what they want to be and see if it changes year after year. Adding small touches like photos of kids holding their kites go a long way! The kids loved seeing this and it makes a lot of sense for this display.
Clay Art Museum
In South Korea, I haven't located backing paper yet (obviously!). But I wanted to show this one to show examples of the laminated borders from Instant Displays mentioned above. Sometimes, when you display things in a linear manner, it can be seen as boring. Instead, you can give it a "messy" look in an organized fashion. It may appear that I just stapled everything randomly when in reality, I carefully calculated and placed everything. I also used sticky tac to label the work with their names so that I can use it again in the future.