Posted February 25, 2012on:
All teachers have created displays for their classes. Some are better than others and I admit that I am definitely not the most artistic (which may explain why I have no pictures to show here).
I remember from my Uni days being taught how to make displays look pretty. We spent weeks learning about single and double surrounds, using different coloured card for backing, origami style 3D displays etc etc etc. When I left Uni I thought “Great now I can make my classroom look really good!” I had all these great ideas and even though I can’t draw to save my life I was keen to have a go. Then I started work in a school. Displays were created before the students even arrived and there I was backing things I had made with one or two pieces of card, putting them on the wall, standing back and saying to myself “How pretty, my tutor would be proud!” Ten minutes later I was taking down the displays cause, yes they were pretty, but I had also used my entire term’s art materials for one display – no-one had mentioned THAT at Uni. Oh dear!
After creating some hundreds of displays since then, some better than others, I have split displays into two categories – educational and children’s own. One I believe should be as basic as possible and the other should have all the flair in the world.
These don’t have to be big. They certainly don’t have to be ‘pretty’. They do have to be neat, appealing and make your students want to look at them and read, but they don’t have to be pretty. Most of my posters have very little on them; the most important phrase, example, formula or diagram is sufficient. Different colours around text make it pleasing to the eye, but the main thing about a poster or display of this kind is that your students will USE the display during lessons to remind them of the focus, of a spelling, of a concept or method. I have seen too many displays put up which the children look at on the first day it is there and then ignore because it has ‘faded into the background’. These displays use the minimal about of resources, but are used everyday that they are up, and can be used year after year if made properly!
These are the ones I go to town on. I have spent the last couple of years looking at artwork displays for which the class have all coloured in the same picture and then these pictures have been thrown on the wall – and they look like it! Personally I like displays that have a meaning or at least a focus. An example (and again, sorry, no pictures): the display I was most proud of was one about the circus. It was based on the language work of that week and in art there were four groups creating some great stuff. One group made tightrope walkers using straws and pipe-cleaners, another was painting clowns, another was creating the crowd and the last were using tissue paper on pictures of the ringmaster, acrobats and jugglers. Once the artwork had been finished I then spent over an hour putting all the pieces on the noticeboard outside the classroom covering the surrounds with the big-top. It was truly a work of art! Yes, I had used most of the term’s art supplies on it – but then it stayed on the board for about a month cause I didn’t want to take it down. Ever! (The kids and their parents loved it too)
Of course, if you are fortunate to be in a school were money is not object, that the budget and materials for art and displays could never all be used, feel free to use it all – make everything as pretty as possible. But, if like me, you work in schools where there is a bit more of a constraint remember, Useful and Used is more important than anything else when making displays for in the classroom but let yourself go when displaying the children’s own work!