Suggested and tested by teachers like you, each of these bulletin board themes will inspire students and refresh your walls.

Vowels That Fly

For a unit on birds, we decorated wooden birdhouses in a way that we thought would attract a bird! To get double duty from our display, I created an interactive bulletin board. I displayed each house atop a "post" and labeled each with a different vowel (long or short) sound. Each student had a supply of laminated bird cutouts at their desk. Whenever the student "landed" upon a good example of a vowel sound during reading time, he or she could "fly" the bird to the correct vowel house (staple to the area near the right house). This not only allowed me to see who needed extra review, but gave the children an opportunity to show off their newfound skills! Plus, it got them away from the rote identification of vowel sounds and had the added bonus of giving them a little more motivation to read.

Submitted by Deirdre Dempsey, Veritas Preparatory Academy, FL

All About Vertebrates

Help children distinguish between the five main vertebrate groups: Fish, Reptiles, Amphibians, Mammals, and Birds (FRAMB).

Cut out huge letters on colored construction paper: fish, reptiles, and amphibians on blue since they are cold-blooded; mammals and birds on red for warm-blooded. Have fun letting children guess what a "FRAMB" might be.

After learning the distinguishing characteristics of each group, have students cut animals from magazines to cover each letter with animals of that type. Laminate distinguising characteristic cards that students can "push pin" under the giant letters (e.g. F for fish would have these characteristic cards: gills, most are egg-layers, skeletons of bone or cartilage, etc.).

Read The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet and The Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carle (about animals that possess multiple vertebrate parts). Have children create their own FRAMBs and write stories about them.

Submitted by Christine Estabrook, Amherst Middle School, NH

Doors of Poetry

The Doors of Poetry are different "doors" that students can "unlock" in their minds to write poetry. This idea was developed by poet, author, and educator Georgia Heard. The doors include:

  • The Heart Door — things that you love
  • The Wonder Door — things that you are wondering about
  • The Humor Door — funny, humorous moments or events
  • The Observation Door — things that you observe in the world around you
  • The Memory Door — memories from your life
  • The World Door — things that concern you, or things that you are thinking about for the world

In this activity, students wrote several poems by "unlocking" each poetry door. They compiled a small book of their poetry — the front of each page was illustrated to look like a door and the back of the page held the student's poem.

Submitted by Melissa Dean, PS 143 Louis Armstrong School, NY

Mapping Our Heritage

When doing a chapter on immigration, I wanted to relate it to my students' own families. I had them go home and find out what countries their families immigrated from. I used transparencies to trace out the continents onto paper and put the world map on the bulletin board. Then, I put a string line on the bulletin board from the students' countries of origin to Kansas (where we are). Each student has a card on the board that says each country their family is from. They were able to compare themselves to others in the class, and see how many countries they had in common.

Adaptations: Using an actual world map may work better than tracing the continents, plus it would show every country. Also, students could bring in pictures of their immigrant ancestors to attach to the board, or items to display on a table under the board.

Submitted by Julianne Newberry, Atchison Catholic Elementary School, KS

Motivational Target Board

In my fifth grade classroom, I use something known as a target board. The center of the board has a large target, resembling a dartboard. At the top of the board, I have a picture of a bull with an arrow pointing to his eye. Also at the top, I put the sentence: "Go for the bull's eye!"

The purpose of this board is to set a challenging, yet attainable goal for my students. Currently, our class goal is for each child to "know the multiplication facts from 0-12 — lickety-split!" Once a child reaches the goal he/she receives $50 in class money and his/her picture is affixed to the board. The children in my classroom are highly motivated by the target board, partly because of the monetary reward, but also because they are filled with pride at their own accomplishments. It is great to see the students encouraging one another to work harder to achieve the goal.

Submitted by Jessica Capuano, Cale Elementary School, VA