Classroom decorations set the tone for learning. When you walk into a room, it’s hard not to get a distinct feeling of being welcome and inspired or…not. Decorations can do much more than set the tone, however. Thoughtful classroom decorations can encourage passive learning for those moments when your students’ attention wanders away from you and starts to glance around the room.
With that in mind, classroom decorations can be a particularly effective way to subtly spark an interest in international cultures. Here are 5 decorations you can add to your classroom to add some international flair:
Almost every classroom has a map of some kind whether it’s a globe that sits on a shelf, a map of the state in which you live, or of a particular continent about which you teach. Maps give students something very important: perspective. It’s one thing to think about how big China is; it’s quite another to see it on a map, know where the different cities are located, what countries make up its border, and how long it might take to get from one end to the other. Maps imbue students with a sense of wonderment that could inspire an interest, a curiosity, or even a career,
I’ll never forget my high school lunchroom, not because of the food, but because of the flags that hung from the ceiling. We had a tradition of hanging a flag from every country that sent a student to our school over the years. I loved to study what went into their design and challenge my friends to see who could name more countries. If you teach French, Spanish or German, you could hang the flags of the various countries that speak those languages. Or you could rotate a different flag each month and teach a unit on that given country’s history and culture. History teachers could hang flags of the different countries involved in a given day’s history lesson. Visual learners will love it regardless of the subject matter.
3. Pictures of Famous Landmarks
No matter what you teach, there’s always a landmark, place or person that immediately calls to attention the lesson you’re teaching your students. If you’re a foreign language teacher, you have an embarrassment of riches from which to choose when it comes to finding visuals to display. History and English teachers have plenty of images from which to choose when it comes to historical and cultural landmarks. Hanging a picture on the wall of your classroom can plant a very important seed: “I’m going to visit that place someday.”
4. Inspiring Quotes
This is another great way to encourage passive learning regardless of what subject you teach. Whether it’s Shakespeare, Churchill, Confucius, Picasso, Monet, Voltaire, Nietzsche, or Napoleon, there’s a deep well of quotes from which you can choose. You can also be as creative as you like in the manner in which you display them, whether it’s simply writing a new one on the chalkboard each day or creating an elaborate display around it in a particular corner of the classroom once a month. You never know which quote will resonate the most and what impact it might have.
5. An “Instagram Board”
If you want to meet your students where they are, you could create a bulletin board that resembles the user interface of Instagram and post photos that capture the subject matter of your lessons throughout the year. Perhaps it’s photos of current events, cultural landmarks, or historical figures, but which ever way you do it, you’re challenging your students to think, “If I were in Spain, what would my Instagram feed look like,” or “If I were alive during World War II (and they had Instagram back then), what would my friends be posting.”
How do you decorate your classroom? Let us know in the comments section below!