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How to Decorate Your Classroom on a Budget

Every teacher wants their students to walk into their classroom on the first day of school and say how awesome their classroom space looks. Teachers and students alike do better in a space that is warm, inviting, and comfortable. A place where students learn and feel safe while learning. It may seem like being able to come up with a completely amazing-looking classroom will empty your wallet and break the bank, but don’t worry! Here we have put together tons of great classroom decoration ideas along with ways to decorate your classroom on a budget.

10 Creative Classroom Decoration Ideas

There are so many fantastic ideas to decorate your classroom. Many teachers all over the United States are decorating classrooms this year for the first time in almost two years! Both students and teachers are excited to get back to learning, so with that, we have lots of great ideas to make your teaching environment a fun one! Available with a simple Pinterest or Google search.

1. Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Trim

Your bulletin board is valuable wall space that can highlight classroom rules, student work, inspirational words, or just fun pictures! This year in my own class, I wanted to create a theme of succulents and earthy tones. I don’t have a bulletin board at all, so I had to get creative! With that, I used plain black butcher paper and some cheap burlap. I created two faux and fun bulletin boards using these two things (and a hot glue gun)! Total cost for this…$6.

Bulletin Board in classroom

Fabric is oftentimes super cheap and is a great alternative background on your bulletin board. I often use fabric before using butcher paper simply because it does not show staple marks and doesn’t tear. Many local craft stores will always have a clearance fabric section where you can get cool designs for next to nothing!

2. Personalizing Your Class

Students love to see pictures of their teachers, so personalize and decorate your classroom by putting up pictures of your family for your class and allowing your students a space to put up some of their favorite pictures. Doing this personalizes your classroom environment and allows kids to really feel comfortable.


Personalizing classroom with photos

Believe it or not, your filing cabinets are a great place for students to hang up their best work, put up a cool magnet, or post other classroom essentials. I always used my filing cabinets to hold my teaching materials inside, but on the outside, I posted classroom responsibility roles and decorated it just like a bulletin board.

3. Smells Matter!

If you have ever been in a classroom with kindergarteners after recess, or middle schoolers who have recently realized they have body odor, you know that having some form of stink reducer in your class is crazy important! Some school districts may not allow you to use certain types of smells in classrooms due to allergies. However, if you can, I would suggest using something neutral and natural.

I love the Ultrasonic Diffuser for essential oils that I found on Amazon! Students will love learning in an environment that doesn’t necessarily smell like many sweaty kids have been sitting in it! Another option is the wax warmers, and Amazon has so many great and fun options. For my classrooms, I use the Enoroma wax warmer (also available on Amazon). These are beautiful to decorate your environment with because they change colors and make your space smell amazing.


Having an awesome classroom isn’t just about spending a ton on finding stuff to hang up on the wall. Decorating your class also comes with years of building different things to create a certain theme or feeling. If you take the time to make letters for your board, purchase posters, or print pictures for your class, take the time to laminate them so that you can use these things for years to come. Laminating your materials ensures that you can use all of your learning materials and wall decore for many school years to come.

5. Window Treatments

Natural light in classrooms (or any rooms) is important to the look and feel. No natural light makes students feel like they are in an institution rather than in a comfortable classroom. You can find some super cheap curtains through Amazon or your local superstore for less than $15. If you have a smaller window in your classroom, sometimes a simple pattern twin size sheet is a great option to decorate your windows.

classroom decoration natural light

So what if you don’t have any windows in your classroom? Classrooms without windows really stink, but this is where you can get creative with your wall space! Just like I created a faux bulletin board, you can create a faux window! Amazon sells scenic murals and posters that you can put up on your wall and surround it with a curtain, just like you would a regular window. Doing this is a creative way for teachers to incorporate the beauty of the outdoors and create a beautiful space without that desire natural light.

6. Lighting as Classroom Decorations

One of the greatest things I had ever done when decorating was including alternative light sources in the classroom. These ideas included putting white Christmas lights around my bulletin boards, purchasing cheap floor lamps, or having simple table lamps placed in different classroom areas.

My fellow teacher has an inviting classroom lit up only by floor lamps and old white lights. This idea originally came during my first year of teaching. Every student was on task and enjoyed learning in her room when not under the glare of bright fluorescent lights. I have chosen to create a comfortable class because I have found that when my students are comfortable, my students work.

7. Don’t Forget the Plants!

Classroom gardens can really make the classroom feel alive and colorful. I have seen some really great classroom themes of “Grow With Us” or “Watch Us Grow”! Classroom plants can be a part of the learning process, part of a theme, or provide another element of life to your classroom. Don’t have a green thumb? That’s ok because I am one of those that kill every plant I have. I like to have pictures of plants, succulents, and maybe some fake plants in my classroom.

8. Cover Your Classroom Walls

I think it is important to cover your classroom walls with encouraging, colorful, and educational posters. In my own classroom, everything I put up on my wall has a purpose. Maybe what I hang up goes with the theme of a unit (i.e., Macbeth and Halloween), or maybe they are colorful sentence frames. By putting these types of things on your classroom walls, you encourage students in their learning; because students learn from what they hear and see every day.

9. Paint…If You Can!

Some schools will allow you to paint a wall of your classroom, or if you are lucky, the entire room! As a teacher, I was never so excited as to learn. A few years ago, I was allowed to paint one wall in my classroom. After looking up all the different accent wall ideas online, I went with a Morrocan patterned accent wall. My students LOVED the unique atmospheres that each classroom provided to them.

Can’t pain a wall in your classroom? Maybe grab some cheap canvases from your local craft store and allow each class of students to create a work of art! Doing this allows each student to have a part to play in decorating the classroom and representing themselves somehow.

10. Make a Reading Corner

If you can incorporate a reading corner in your classroom, don’t hesitate! Having a separate and designated space for student work when it comes to reading is crucial to learning how to enjoy reading. Go hunt down some bean bag chairs, invest in a cheap rug, and maybe make a “fort” type space to encourage students to curl up with a good book during class time.

Many different items you can use to make a cool reading nook may include certain items in your own home that you don’t use anymore. For example, you can use old pillows to combine to make large floor pillows or use the butcher paper in the teacher’s workroom to get creative with wall decor.

Every aspect of education includes some form of reading. Allowing your classroom to have a space for your students to focus on their reading is absolutely invaluable. Plus, having a cool reading space for students is a great classroom management tool!

How to Find Materials on a Budget

It may seem impossible to find classroom decorations for spending very little (especially at the end of summer when teacher pay is almost out!). However, there are many great ways to find quality classroom decor, either spending very little or nothing at all. Here I have listed five ways that have served me well over the last ten years of creating engaging classroom environments.

1. Check With Other Teachers

Have you ever heard the adage that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, when it comes to classroom decor, this is definitely the truth! Often, your fellow teachers will be re-decorating, getting rid of extras, or simply leaving the field of teaching and not needing their stuff anymore.

2. Ask Around to Family or Friends

Every school year, I send out a group text to the family and friends asking if they have any home decor, bookshelves, art supplies, fabric, lamps, etc., that they do not want anymore. Many times, people are more than happy to get rid of their stuff without having to make a trip to drop it off at the local thrift store. What I have found over the years is that these home-type items make the classroom feel warm and inviting.

3. Check for Free Printables

I LOVE free printables! For example, get a free downloadable attendance sheet. Also, Teachers Pay Teachers have wonderful printable wall decor and lesson plans for free or for a very reasonable price! Sometimes a simple Google search for free printable decor will lend you some really great classroom decorations for your bulletin board and walls.

4. Hit Up Amazon!

Amazon has so many amazing deals when it comes to classroom decor inspiration! You can find many different posters, fun wall decor, anchor charts, and general classroom supplies. Plus, just about all of these items come with free two-day shipping! Also, many times Amazon reviews have pictures that can help give you an idea of whether or not something will work within your classroom.

5. Check Local Stores

I absolutely LOVE hitting up my local dollar stores and thrift shops. These places have so many great teaching tools and ways to inspire creativity in your classroom without spending much money at all. Many of your local superstores (i.e., Walmart or Target) will have decor sections specifically for teachers to help with your bulletin boards and classroom theme.

Final Thoughts on Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

As a teacher, my entire focus is on my students and their education. However, there are so many different things that influence learning it is important to control what influences I can. My own classroom environment is one of those places where I can make sure my students are comfortable and cared for. I don’t see myself as “just their teacher,” but rather someone that cares about every aspect of them when they are with me.

With all this, we hope that you take some time to figure out how you want your classroom to look and feel on that tight teacher budget and come up with something amazing!

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