by Laurie Bellet
Look around the walls of your home. Likely you will see treasured photos, preferred artwork, perhaps even certificates of honor or recognition. Indeed, you may have worked diligently to arrange your display so that it is appealing to your eye and to the eyes of your guests. What is most dear to you, you have probably displayed in a place of prominence.
The classroom is no different. Our Jewish classrooms are homes of study, homes of meeting and homes of prayer. When students and their parents enter our classrooms they want to see that the classroom is a place of cheerful comfort, that there is much available to learn and, that they belong there.
There is so much we can display in the Jewish classroom:
Student work can be laminated and mounted on a contrasting background for presentation. This way you can create a stunning gallery.
Posters can enhance or extend your current area of study. Posters also offer opportunities for bonus learning; no matter how talented we are as teachers, our students’ eyes will wander and settle on an available wall.
Learning aids such as time lines, aleph-bet, study unit information, secular learning aids labeled and translated into Hebrew print or used in a Jewish context offer students valuable supportive references.
Synagogue and community events.
Recommendations for books, movies, Internet destinations and music.
Classroom photos are a favorite recognition tool of both students and parents!
Designing your bulletin board display begins with background paper. Several options, ranging in desirability, are conveniently available:
Fadeless paper (always carries this descriptive label) is brightly colored and truly will never fade. Fadeless paper will need replacing only when it gets too many tack holes or when you crave a new color. Fadeless paper commonly comes in rolls of 12 feet or 25 feet and a width of 48 inches.
Butcher paper gives you a smooth and tidy look but, the colors are not generally vivid. Although it costs approximately half the price (per foot) of fadeless paper, it will fade and likely require more frequent replacing. Butcher paper is usually purchased by the foot off a bulk roll.
Many folks opt to back a bulletin board with construction paper. Because this requires using many individual sheets, construction paper backgrounds frequently appear ragged and they do fade rapidly.
Wrapping paper can make a fun alternative for a bulletin board background, especially during a specific holiday season. Experiment with available styles to get the impact you desire.
Consider bulletin board border as equivalent to a picture frame. Border gives a finished look to your board and is essential for hiding uneven edges of background paper. There are many borders available in secular educational material stores which, when carefully selected, complement your Jewish curriculum. Border comes in various widths and with straight or scalloped edges.
Border can be themed to your display, seasonally appropriate or generically simple and coordinated by color. Border should enhance, not overpower, your display. When carefully removed and stored (there are specific storage systems to house your border), border has a lengthy lifespan. Borders are inexpensive, beginning at $2.75 for a package containing 35 feet of border.
Most bulletin board displays benefit from a headline. Titling your bulletin board draws viewers in the same way as does a movie marquis. Your title will invite folks to come take a look. You can buy letters designed to highlight bulletin boards in punch out packages. They come in sizes ranging from 2 inches ($2.95 approximately) to 4 inches ($4.95 approximately). There are many styles and a wide variety of colors to coordinate with your border. It is best to stick with a single lettering style and color in your headline. Like border, bulletin board letters can withstand years of use. Store each set in a large baggie for convenient re-use. Enjoy being clever with your titles. Intriguing titles draw the most admirers.
There is help all around. The ideas in this book offer a variety of themes complete with activity suggestions. You can use the titles directly from the project suggestions or create your own to suit your particular class. Each project theme comes with several suggestions for coordinating borders and you can enjoy experimenting with the many varieties available.
Shaped cut-outs, prepackaged in class sets of 36, or themed notepaper are a refreshing alternative to standard lined paper. Clever or decorative paper can motivate even your most reluctant students to participate in a lesson. Themed notepads are inexpensive, appealingly colorful and can be used thematically in a variety of ways. With a minimum of teacher effort, your bulletin board display will look terrific.
Popular materials for scrapbooking such as frames, die-cuts and page borders, will add interest to your display and can even be purchased inexpensively at the larger department store chains.
As you find more and more ways to decorate your bulletin boards, some caution needs to be applied.
It is important to resist the urge to keep adding to an established bulletin board. A cluttered, unkempt look will discourage readers.
No matter how attractive your display is, changing it periodically will renew your students’ interest, give you optimum use of your teaching space and offer you opportunities to experiment with new themes and designs.
Do repair a damaged display promptly. When border hangs off the edge or work becomes dislodged, your room can take on a careless appearance.
Although your fadeless paper will remain true to its original color, your border may fade.
Keep your border current…a garden bouquet put up in Sivan, doesn’t pack much punch in Cheshvan.
Now and again, take a critical look at your bulletin board from many areas in your room. Sit in various student places so you can see exactly what they see. Enter your room as a parent or guest might for the first time. Make certain your display conveys the message, mood and impact that you are intending.