The Creative Classroom: Everyday Items for Your Decorating Needs

| November 4, 2013

Aid India Field Visit - RIVER - MGML Classroom 01

99.5 percent of teachers report using their own money for their classrooms. A major chunk of this cash goes towards decorations. While your school district may supply the basics, you would be remiss to expect the district to give you everything that you need. Luckily, there are ways that you can decorate your classroom on the cheap if you are watching pennies.

1.Play Tent

Whether you call it a play tent, a reading canopy, or a time-out teepee, use fabric to create an interesting corner for your students. Buy five yards of your favorite fabric and hem the edges with a sewing machine or hem tape. Find a corner of your room and hang the fabric tent-style. You can tack two corners to a wall, and tape the free edge to a shelf. Alternately, you can build a teepee frame with thin lumber and rope, and attach the fabric to your frame. Hang rope light to make the tent special. Ikat fabric makes an especially beautiful canopy, as does any printed fabric.

2.Post Office Boxes

Did you know that you can get mailing boxes from the post office for free directly from the website? Covered with contact, construction or wallpaper, these boxes make fantastic paper holders and magazine bins. Decorate the edges of the boxes with fancy duct tape and you have safe, effective holders for any shelf in your room.

3.Tin Cans

Old paint cans make wonderful holders for your classroom. Collect old paint cans from friends and family, peel the labels off and clean them until they sparkle. Attach small cans to a lazy Susan and stock them with art supplies. If you don’t have room for a lazy Susan in your class, stack the cans on their sides in a pyramid and glue them together with a hot glue gun. Before you attach your cans to a lazy Susan, or to each other, wrap them with duct tape or wallpaper for a fancy look.


Teachers need privacy screens for their students from time to time. Larger cardboard boxes make useful screens. Simply remove tape and unfold the boxes to make them flat. If you like, you can cover them with paper but it’s not necessary. When your students need them, pull them out and set them up. When they aren’t in use, stack them together and slide them between a wall and a shelf.

5.Dish Rack

As technology booms in the classroom, teachers are finding shelves crowded with devices as they charge. A cheap dish rack makes a wonderful charging station for your classroom technology. Simply place a dish rack in front of an outlet, set up your devices like you would dishes, plug them in and wait. Look for a rack that comes with a utensil drainer and use the little cup as a stylus holder.

6.Condiment Bottles

If you need paint for your classroom, make your own. 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of water and a desired amount of food coloring make great, non-toxic paints. One mixture will fit perfectly in a cheap, clear condiment bottle. Make as many or as few as you like, line them up on your art shelf, and you will never have to buy paint again.

Inside My Classroom

7.Baby Wipe Containers

Baby wipe containers hold virtually endless possibilities. Cleaned out and decorated, these containers make fabulous crayon, pencil and marker holders. They are also perfect for puzzle pieces, cards and small games. The containers are easy to stack and take up very little room in your cupboard. Label the outside of the containers so that you and your students can quickly see what is inside.


Are you looking for pillows for your classroom? Instead of buying expensive floor pillows, collect old T-shirts from your spouse, kids, family and friends. Buy the cheapest pillows that you can find, stuff them inside the T-shirts, sew the bottoms of the tees closed and you have fabulous reading pillows for your students.

9.Freezer Bags

You have freezer bags in the house and you have duct tape. Use both to create pockets for your binders. Reinforce the three edges of your freezer bag with strips of duct tape, use a three-hole punch to make holes in one side, and put your new pockets in your binders. If they get used heavily and wear out, you can replace them without having to run to the office supply store.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to decorate your classroom if you get a bit creative. Keep your eyes open for items that you have around the house. Chances are that if you use your imagination, you can think of ways to use them in your classroom.

Jenn Ryder is a design blogger. Read about her favorites companies such as Lewis and Sheron Textiles. You can read about her latest work on Twitter @Jenn_Ryder.


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Category: Budget, Family Finances, Frugality, Saving Money

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