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How to Create a Cohesive Learning Environment for Your Students

It is very common for elementary teachers to be given a classroom that has minimal and mismatched furniture. With what you are given, it can feel impossible to create a beautiful, cohesive learning environment for your students. However, there are some simple things you can do to create a classroom environment that you feel proud of.

This blog post will give you the inspiration you need to create a cohesive learning environment for your students and will answer the following questions:

  • What is the definition of a learning environment?
  • Why is a cohesive learning environment important?
  • How do you create a cohesive learning environment?

What is the Meaning of Learning Environment?

A learning environment is the physical space where students participate in experiences to learn concepts and skills. In a school setting, it is commonly referred to as a classroom environment. If you are an elementary classroom teacher, then your students’ learning environment is likely your classroom for a majority of the time. There are many things to consider when creating a learning environment, but this post will focus on the importance of creating a cohesive space and ideas for how to do it.

Why is a Cohesive Learning Environment Important?

A cohesive learning environment is important because it helps students focus on the task they are working and makes them feel comfortable. Research shows that the colors in a classroom directly impact student learning. This is further evidence that the learning environment has a significant impact on students.

How Do You Create a Cohesive Learning Environment?

Begin creating a learning environment that is cohesive and beautiful by picking a classroom color scheme and classroom theme. Once you pick those, you can easily do any of the 10 following projects to create a classroom environment you are proud of:

triangle classroom banner and stack of patterned washi tape

10 Ways to Create a Cohesive Classroom Look

1. Use decorative tape as a border.

Simply add a border of tape around all four edges of your charts or posters. The tape will define your charts by making them pop and stand out from their background. It will also provide a more finished look, give a splash of color, and take any ordinary chart and instantly make it match your classroom theme or color scheme. Decorative tape is available at craft stores and Amazon. Matching the decorative tape with your theme will help you create a cohesive learning environment for your students. Consider using animal print tapes for my jungle classroom theme or glitter tape for my Hollywood classroom theme.

2. Put up a paper banner.

I had a whiteboard in my last classroom that had a strip of cork that ran along the top of it. I covered the strip with paper that matched my color scheme and created a pennant banner using twine, a hole punch, and a cutting board. Using the hole punch, I made 4 holes (2 close together). I threaded the twine through each and hung it on the cork board. All of my classroom themes include a banner. This simple DIY project helped me create a cohesive learning environment.

3. Paint your bookshelves.

Transform your worn and tired looking wooden shelves to give your classroom a fresh, new look. Take a paint roller and use it to paint the sides, top, and front of the shelves. Apply 2 quick coats. Next, select scrapbook papers and attach them to the back of the shelves with double-sided tape. Choosing paper that goes with your theme will help you create a cohesive learning environment

painted bookshelves with patterned scrapbook paper on them

4. Replace your recycling bins.

Classroom real estate is always at a premium, and finding a home for a bulky recycling bin can be a challenge. Its size often makes it too big to fit on a shelf, and yet, short enough that it isn’t always seen and can be tripped over if not tucked away.

two white trash cans with recycling labels on them

First, purchase 2 plastic wastebaskets. The ones I used are 16 qt and cost $2.99 each. I specifically selected baskets that would fit onto a shelf in my classroom so they wouldn’t take up floor space. Like me, you’ll probably find find that the 16 qt size is big enough to hold quite a bit while also not taking up too much space. I encourage the kids to take paper from the bin for drawing, indoor recess games and as scrap paper during Math Workshop. When they get too full, a student brings them to the large school-wide barrels and transfers the contents. Next, print out labels and secure them in place with a thin coat of Modge Podge. Alternatively, you could use clear packing tape to adhere it to the container as well.

two types of painted trash cans in a classroom

5. Spray paint your trash cans.

Use a spray paint nozzle to do this. They easily slide on and off the cans and can be used over and over. It makes the task easier and you don’t end up with colorful fingertips. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can get crafty with painter’s tape. I suggest starting with painting the cans white. After they dry, use the tape to make stripes, dots, chevron, or another pattern. Make sure the tape is stuck down well, then spray over it with the color of your choice. Once it is dry, simply peel off the tape and you’ll have a customized trash can. This simple DIY project will help you create cohesive learning environment!

6. Use duct tape or painters tape on your student desks.

Duck Tape is the name brand for the fun pattern-filled and colorful duct tape company. You can do a google search for either “duct tape” or “duck tape” to find lots of fun options. Duct tape peels off easily and a little vegetable oil or vinegar will easily take care of the sticky residue if you want to change it out in the future. Another good option is painters tape, which also has lots of colorful options and is very easy to take off.

before and after photo of a student desk with duct tape diy project

7. Use colorful ribbon for your door decor.

I can’t say enough about how much I love ribbon as a decorative tool. It adds a finishing touch to everything. It’s easy to find in just about every width, color, and pattern at craft stores and places like Walmart at a low cost. It’s amazing how something as simple as using colorful ribbon will help you create a cohesive learning environment in your classroom.

8. Add decorative accents to small school supplies.

Hand sanitizer, tape, and hand soap are all examples of supplies that can easily be transformed to go with the color scheme in your classroom. Decorative tape and ribbon are both great tools for this. If you are thinking of having an apple theme classroom, you might use the colors red or brown.

colorful classroom diy projects including a painted potted plant and ribbon banner

9. Purchase colorful baskets and bins.

You can find colorful bins and baskets that go with your color scheme at stores like Dollar Tree, Walmart, and Target. Using ones that are aligned with your color scheme for your classroom library, for example, helps create a cohesive space in your classroom. If you are doing a bee classroom theme, you may consider using black or yellow baskets.

10. Incorporate plants with painted pots.

Either purchase painted pots or purchase plain ones and paint them yourself. This is a nice detail to add to your learning environment to make it feel cohesive, especially if you are doing a cactus classroom theme, eucalyptus classroom theme, farmhouse classroom theme, garden classroom theme, or sunflower classroom theme.

Grab the Free Classroom Decor Guide!

We hope this information about how to create a cohesive learning environment for your elementary students was helpful! Next, we would love for you to download the free Classroom Decor Guide for Elementary Teachers. It includes more tips for designing your classroom environment.

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classroom decor guide
This classroom decor guide includes helpful tips and ideas for decorating your classroom.