Back to School Must Have’s: Bulletin Boards

About Toni McCray

Toni McCray has been teaching urban first graders for 9 years with Memphis City Schools. She is a native of the Memphis area .

It’s about that time that all teachers dread but love–a new school year! You are about to head back to school for in-service for the new year. You’re refreshed, rested, and in a great mood and then…..your principal hands you this long checklist of things that need to be completed by the time school begins bright and early Monday morning. Your mood immediately changes and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Well, take a deep breath. Hopefully, I can help with one of those checks on that checklist – bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are a “must-do” but not necessarily the most important thing on my teaching list. I think it is very important to welcome students back to school and display student work but I don’t like to overcomplicate the process. My mantra for bulletin boards is work smart, not hard!

At my school, we have a bulletin board outside our room near the door that our principal likes to see changed every 4-6 weeks. Follow a few of my time-saving tips to help keep your bulletin boards updated, fresh, and in compliance with  your school’s  policy but won’t waste valuable instructional time.

Use Fabric
Instead of walking down the hall to the resource room to get butcher paper, wondering did you tear off enough, lugging it back to your room all crinkled up only for it to fade from red to pink in a few weeks, try fabric. Fabric is inexpensive, easy to store, and never fades. I have been teaching for 9 years and the fabric I bought for my bulletin boards the very first year is just as vibrant.

Measure your bulletin board then go to your nearest fabric store. Buy the cheapest fabric you can find in red, yellow, blue, green, and purple. Save the receipt. There maybe a chance that your school will reimburse you. The $10-$15 you invest now will save you plenty of hassles later. At the end of the year (or when it’s time for a new board) fold it neatly and store it in your cabinet. Using fabric on your bulletin board background can be changed quickly and easily at any moment.

Do Seasons, Not Holidays
Some people have wondered why I never display Halloween jack-o-lanterns, Thanksgiving turkeys, Santas, or Valentine hearts on my bulletin boards. Have you ever been or observed a teacher who put up cute Santa hats that the students worked on so diligently the week before Christmas only for them to be taken down a week later when the principal announces that there should be no remnants of Christmas up when we return in January?  Then the teacher is left with the stress of thinking of another bulletin board idea.

I don’t have that problem because my bulletin boards are centered around seasons rather than holidays.  If yourDecember bulletin board has math snowmen then you are “good to go” in January.  Keep it simple. A great bulletin board title to use in the fall is “We’re Falling for _____!” Insert anything from subtraction to writing, adverbs, or decimals. Display the work and a few leaves falling down. For winter – “____ is SNOW much fun!” Again insert any subject, display with your students’ work. You will have simple, yet effective bulletin boards up at all times. You will have one less thing to stress about and your principal will be happy too!

What are your bulletin boards tricks? Have you tried any of these methods? Let us know!

bulletin boards

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By | 2016-11-01T14:43:14+00:00 August 20th, 2012|Instruction&Curriculum, Management|5 Comments

About the Author:

Toni McCray has been teaching urban first graders for 9 years with Memphis City Schools. She is a native of the Memphis area .


  1. cindylumpkin August 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Great advice! I was never good at bulletin boards. I somehow got out of doing them often. Maybe it was because I never had my own room! There are some benefits to sharing.

  2. Joel October 10, 2012 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Whenever possible, I use student-generated art for bulletin boards. Since I teach a college preparatory class, we use college-related material and anything that can inspire students to aim to complete their education and/or go after a college degree. I also cover my boards with a clear plastic to keep them from being damaged. Oversized table protectors work great for this and the board can last for an entire semester.

  3. Teresa Neathery January 21, 2013 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I LOVE bulletin boards. My principal just added 5 new bulletin boards down the Kinder hall! The other Kindergarten teacher and I both love to decorate them so we got them done quick. This year we have taken pictures of our kids dressed in the themes we are studying- pirates, Japan, rain forest and used them in our bulletin boards. The kids love it and so does everyone else. Wish I could post one for you!

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