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Friday Five: 5 Inexpensive Classroom Decoration Tips

Stephen Eldridge, TeachHUB

Decorating for the holidays can be a lot of fun for both you and your class, but it can also be a pain in the pocketbook. Here are five ways you (and your students) can make your classroom show some seasonal spirit without breaking the bank. Just keep in mind your school’s policies about decorations before getting to work!

1: Turn your bulletin board into a mantle.

You may not be able to warm your classroom with a real fire, but you can add a little bit of holiday cheer by constructing a pretend fireplace from spare boxes and a little paint. Have the kids bring in shoe boxes or other cardboard boxes (all the same size, if you can!) and paint them brick-red. Use a sponge to give them the right texture, then black or white paint to add the brick pattern. Then, stack them in a hearth shape beneath the bulletin board. Pin stockings, garlands, or other decorations to the board to turn it into a mantle.

2: Craft with wrapping paper.

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Wrapping paper is colorful, festive, and cheap. You can use it to punch up decorations you’d normally make from construction paper, like wreaths, snowmen, snowflakes, or paper chains. You can even make a wrapping paper Christmas tree!

There are a number of ways you can do this; here’s one simple method: Gather three or four long tubes of wrapping paper and tape the last bits of paper around them. Then, cut each tube into pieces, varying the lengths. (For example, for three thirty-inch tubes, cut one tube into pieces of 13, 8, 7, and 2 inches; another 12, 9, 6, and 3 inches; and the last 11, 10, 5, and 4 inches.) Stack the tubes one on top of the other with the longest on the bottom and the shortest on the top, forming a triangular tree shape that you can tape to a wall or board. Decorate with a star or lights as you would a real tree.

3: Tie on the bells and ribbons.

Glass ornaments may be too fragile for the classroom, but if you want something shiny they’re not the only game in town. Bells, especially jingle bells, are often sold cheaply in seasonal colors. Bells can be hung from the classroom door to chime when the door is opened, or hung on the windows or bulletin board for pure visual appeal. Use ribbons instead of tape or string to add even more color.

4: Give decorations a stained-glass look with crayons.

Broken or used-up crayon bits can add a spectacular look to your classroom. You or your students can shave the crayons to chips, then spread the chips between two sheets of translucent wax paper. Melt the crayons between the sheets of wax paper using an iron. The result should be a splash of color pressed between the paper. If your students are old enough, have them cut out a circle from the melted splash to create a single colored coin.

You can cut these coins into different shapes or cut shapes into construction paper to act as “windows” and use the molten crayons as “panes.”

5: Cut up your holiday greeting cards.

Old greeting cards can be set on desks and window sills or pinned to a bulletin board. They can be hung on strings to create a garland to hang along a wall.

But that’s just the start—each card is a small work of art that can be used any number of ways. Construct ornaments by cutting the cover art into circles, stars, or other shapes and running twine or string through them. Cut the cards into strips and make holiday bookmarks. You can even cut cards into ornamental boxes for pencils, stickers, or candy.

What are your favorite ways to make your classroom a little more festive for the winter holiday season? Let us know in the comments.