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Classroom Decorating Tips for the Frugal Teacher

By Allie Magnuson on November 1, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

Believe it or not, kids don't care about the snazzy paper you spent hours applying to your shelves, the furniture you draped with fancy fabrics, the perfectly lined-up bins with cute designs, or the cleverly-arranged centers. Kids don't appreciate the hours you put into decorating a classroom that gets repinned hundreds of times on Pinterest. They care about their own safety, security, comfort, and happiness — all important conditions that can be achieved at little or no cost.

I got most of the items shown here at the dollar store with the exception of the welcome mat and plants which were donated from parents. I got the mirror for $2 at a thrift store. Keeping your discount stores in mind, here are some easy, inexpensive ideas for decorating your classroom:



Place a welcome mat or throw rug in front of each door.    This one was donated by a parent, but you can get them at Target for around $8.


If your classroom has windows, dress them up with kid-painted suncatchers. 


Give each child a piece of paper to decorate however they want. Laminate and use them as placemats.  


Fill baskets with children's magazines, plastic fruit, or potpourri. 


Keep pillows in your library to make reading more comfortable. 


Banish harsh overhead fluorescent lights in favor of lamps with incandescent bulbs. 


For a whimsical atmosphere, string up some twinkle lights. 


Put battery-operated votive candles in small jars. 


Ask parents to bring copies of family photos in dollar-store frames. 


Display the kids' own artwork. Make frames on the wall by bordering the art with strips of colored tape. 


Hang mirrors around the room. This one looks precar ious in the picture, but is actually lightweight and stuck to the tiled wall with double sided tape.


Consumables count as decor when placed in clear containers.  


Arrange fake flowers in simple vases. 


Introduce plants and items from nature each season. 


Keep a pet in an eye-catching habitat. Seven different kinds of grants are available from Pets In the Classroom. The applications are short and easy to fill out. But be sure to care for your pet properly. All pets, including the oft-neglected betta fish, have special needs. 



With just a few special touches, you can decorate your classroom in a way that's welcoming, safe . . . and actually appreciated.

Comments (4)

Great Post Allie--I got about 10 great ideas from this one...would have liked to know where you got some of the inexpensive items...like the mirror! Thanks for sharing!

Hi everyone - thanks for the nice comments. It's amazing what you can do with so little!

I love how so many little things can make such a big difference! Thank you for sharing!

Amazing! So many great ideas in this!!

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