Remember being a kid and the magic, and stress, of school projects? Having to come up with those creative class poster board ideas? You’d make a special trip to the store for the expensive piece of heavy, white paper that could be ruined with one mistake. Even neon poster paper was unique and coveted. Now, poster board comes in all sizes, colors, and packs that make it a must-have for classrooms.
Aa a teacher, I have an arsenal of school poster board ideas that I use for my class. In this post, I’ll let you in on my secrets, and explore the top ten ways I put this invaluable paper to work.
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1. Interactive Learning Mats
- Learning mats are an engaging way to get students writing. They can be used in a variety of ways. The sturdiness of the poster means it can’t get ripped in turns and flips. Other learning mat options include enlarging notetaking strategies so groups can work together. Pull out a larger piece of poster board in a fun color, add a marker, and kids are all in! A few great learning strategies from this class poster idea:
- Develop writing and collaboration skills. Use poster board “placemats” where students can talk through writing and images to solve problems or share ideas. Give each student their own color marker to be able to follow the conversation and contributions. (photo learningmat2)
- Use mats to show math thinking. Using markers mean embracing mistakes and honoring visual thinking and mats can be shared or presented to the rest of the class. (photo learningmat1)
- Post a different question on each paper and let groups walk around the room to solve them on their own personal paper. Colorful posters stand out from the wall so they are easy to spot and can be used year after year. Try this as a review technique or an early-finisher incentive.
- Use posters as a place to record learning from jigsaw activities that can serve as a group debrief in one central location.
- Posters feel special. Students can transfer their ideas to a poster and use them as gallery walks to show their thinking to other students. There’s an incentive to make it neat and do high quality work when it feels like a display.
2. Learning ToolsPlastic math tools are expensive. Creating counters, cutouts, shapes, and more from poster board means you’ll have the tool for a long time to come, but without the expense of brand name plastics. You can create tools that match the colors in your curriculum or existing tools, even if the program is unique. Make a large, display sets for group work, teacher-led examples, or when learning online for easy-to-see work. Creating student tools from paper makes sending at-home learning kits risk free, since you know they are study, but not irreplaceable.
It should be obvious poster board makes a great display. What you might not know is there is science behind the idea! When we create something for ourselves, our teachers, or even our families, we tend to create something “good enough”. When we know work will be displayed or have attention drawn to it, we step it up a notch. Encourage students by creating paper frames to display work or using bright backing for posting their writing. Hot glue a paper clip or decorative clothespin to the paper for a display that lasts and make it Instagram-worthy by using a fun color scheme.
3. Display Student Work
Colorful paper adds to any celebration. From holidays to homecoming, color can say a lot. Create countdown chains that won’t fall apart on students with sturdy poster paper strips. Cut out math counters in shapes that match the season. Build on multicultural activities by using thematic colors in your art. Headbands and wearable, but less tear-able, fashions from poster board are fun from first grade to the future of fashion design.
Students young and old can create books that show off their learning. A simple fold and staple with a vibrant, sturdy cover add excitement for young authors. Pre-print inside pages to foster notetaking. Covers help protect and add longer life to ongoing projects that might get lost or bent inside desks. For older students, have them create tales to teach younger children. They can practice anything from historic biographies to fantasy tales. Use this class poster idea as the foundation layer for a fabric cover -- it adds just enough weight without being unmanageable and smaller poster board can bend into colorful lap books.
5. Love Literacy
Sticky nametags are useful for a day, at best, before being lost or re-stuck too many times. Poster board nametags are an inexpensive way to have nametags on hand. Use them with young students the first week of class to get to know names and each other. Add in dismissal information such as bus numbers to help faculty that sees kids at the end of the day. Save nametags for special visitors to the classroom. Older students and adult learners can use a tame tent. For added fun, customize the tents with numbers or images that represent something about the owner.
Did you know that you can print on just about anything? Modern printers and copiers have settings to accommodate thicker papers. Use scissors or a paper cutter to trim poster board down to size, or purchase standard-size sheets, and then use the thickest paper setting available to print straight onto the board. Uncoated papers work best. Consider the things you write and use year after year such as posting standards, sight word walls, or commonly used mathematic formulas. These prints will have staying power without the hard-to-read shine of laminating, making this classroom poster idea a no-brainer!
7. Print it! Standards, Wordwalls, and More…
No more dog-eared library books! You can make simple bookmarks with the odds and ends of any poster paper, but you can step it up by printing. Print close-reading techniques, questions to ask yourself, picture clues, or even parent-questions that can be used while reading. If you are reading a class novel, consider highlighting important characters or thematic questions that you can refer to often. Create bookmarks you’re your teacher editions that remind you to ask questions. Feeling fancy? Punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon for added fun with this classroom poster idea.
8. Bookmarks… but not just any bookmark!
It comes as no surprise that poster board yields great bulletin boards. Use it to cut strips into colorful boarder that doesn’t detract from your display. Freehand slime to slide down the side of those monster tales. Layer flower shapes for depth. Poster board strips can create 3D effects with a little twisting and stapler action. You can even use poster board with holds to create holds for tissue paper or tulle designs. Poster board bulletin displays also hold up to little hands touching them in the hallways and can be used year after year. Consider those holiday and special occasion displays and how much time you can save! Pro tip: toss displays into an oversized plastic bag with a picture of the board for easy storage and a reminder for setting up next time.
9. Bulletin that Board
Maybe the most obvious school poster board idea, but this paper makes great art backing for student work. While thicker than traditional card stock, poster board is still easy to cut with regular scissors. Pencil can be used on new papers that are uncoated and the variety of colors makes concepts endless. Poster board isn’t waterproof, but painting both sides in thin coats can lessen the wobbly-paper effect. Incorporate science and art with 3D sculpture and study marble tracks built from poster board. Whether you cut, paste, staple, glue, or draw, adding a variety of thicknesses and colors to your art closet will make your projects pop.
Poster board has come a long way since the giant, white-only, coated days. The strength of poster board doesn’t just mean physically strong paper, though that’s true too. Using these classroom poster ideas as a staple in your classroom adds excitement for students and pizazz to otherwise ordinary projects. Teach on!
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