Do you love DIY projects and want to make your classroom colorful and cohesive, but not too distracting for your learners? If so, you MUST check out these easy low-cost projects below!

This blog post will…

offer tons of small projects to help you make your classroom look cohesive

suggest ideas if you have a strict fire code in the town you teach

Project #1: Use Decorative Tape as a Border

  • Add a border of tape around all four edges of your charts or posters. 
  • The tape will define your charts, make them pop and stand out from their background, give them a 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.
  • Use animal print tapes for my Jungle/Safari Classroom Decor Packet or glitter tape for my Hollywood Theme Packet.
{photo sources: 1 / 2 / 3}

Project #2: Paper Banner

  • I have a whiteboard in my classroom. There is a strip of cork that runs along the top of it. In the past I have tried putting border around it. There is no real reason to do so other than to give it a finished look. I like things to look finished. I never wrote on the top 1/4 of the board. And I never used the cork strip. Whenever I hang anything on the board I use magnets.
  • I covered the strip with coordinating paper. Then armed with some twine, a hole punch, and a cutting board, I created a banner to hang at the top. I cut rectangles from scraps of paper in a size that worked for my space. Next, I found the center at the bottom of the paper and cut a diagonal line from that point to the upper corner. Using the hole punch, I made 4 holes (2 close together). I threaded the twine through each and hung it on the cork board.
  • This project took me about 30 minutes.

Project #3: Easy-Peasy Bookshelf Project

  • Transform your inherited wooden shelves that are really worn and tired looking like I did.
  • I took a roller and ran it over the sides, top and front of the shelves. I applied 2 quick coats. Next, I selected scrapbook papers in bright, fun patterns. And attached them to the back of the shelves with double-sided tape.
  • I love what a difference it made and how coordinates so well with my room for a cohesive look. If you are doing a theme, this would be an easy way to make an impact because there are so many themed scrapbook pages available. You could even skip the painting step and it would still make a big impact. The finished product houses my chapter books in small teal baskets.
  • This project took me about 15-20 minutes plus the time for drying.

Project #4: Recycling Bins

  • Classroom real estate is always at a premium and finding a home for a big, huge, bulky recycling bin can be a challenge. It’s 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. 
  • First, purchase 2 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. I find the 16 qt size were big enough to hold quite a bit, but not intrusive. 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 in and transfers the contents.

  • Next, print out the labels and secure them in place with a thin coat of Modge Podge. The label shown has the blue chevron border. The packet also includes a set of labels with only the inner black border. You can mount these onto scrapbook paper to match your color scheme or classroom theme.
  • Then, apply Modge Podge on top of the label in several thin coats to adhere it. If you use an inkjet printer you’ll want to take precautions to keep the ink from running. Some ideas include freezing the paper overnight or a layer of hairspray.  Alternatively, you could use clear packing tape to adhere it to the container as well. 
  • I created a packet that includes the labels with a blue chevron border shown in the picture above. It also includes a set of labels with a simple black border around them that you can mount onto scrapbook paper to match your classroom theme or color scheme.

{Click to Access and Download: Recycling Bin Labels}

Project #5: Painted Trash Cans

  • While I don’t have a before picture, but if you imagine dingy, dirty, boring beige cans then you have an idea of what I started with. Since my classroom color scheme this year is aqua chevron with black and white polka dots and accents of yellow I chose to use those three colors to paint the trash cans. 
  • If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can upstyle them even more by getting crafty with painter’s tape. I suggest starting with painting the cans white. After they dry, use the tape to make stripes, dots, chevron, etc. Make sure it is stuck down well and 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 that adds detail to your classroom.
  • If you do plan to spray paint anything I highly recommend using a spray paint nozzle. They easily slide on and off the cans and can be used over and over. It certainly makes the task easier and you don’t end up with colorful fingertips.

Project #6: Duck Taping Student Desks

  • I actually only have a couple desks and decided Duck tape would be the perfect solution. I had fallen in love with a damask pattern I had seen online, but couldn’t find it in any of my local stores. 
  • I opted instead for a solid aqua and was very pleased with the results. It peels off easily and a little vegetable oil or vinegar will easily take care of the stick residue if I want to change it out in the future. After all was said and done I realized I could have also used colored painters tape. So if you are thinking about making over some desks, or a filing cabinet, or anything else for that matter you may want to go that route.
  • Duck Tape is the name brand for the fun pattern / colorful Duct Tape maker. You can do a google search for either to find lots of fun options. I went back and forth on which spelling to use for the post, but ultimately decided to go with the brand I used.

Project #7: “CREATE” Board to Showcase Student Projects

  • With the national push for data-driven instruction, it is important to put in extra efforts to make sure that opportunities for creativity and open-ended, project-based learning exist. To help with my goal, I’ve designated a board in my classroom specifically for displaying all of those gorgeous, colorful creations that kids design when given some construction paper, paints, glue, and scissors. The work will be changed out regularly, but the hot pink background and the title in the center will remain the same throughout the year. 
  • It states simply, “Create.” It will be a constant reminder of the importance of establishing an environment that values learning “outside the box.”

Project #8: Simple Door Decor

{Also Pictured: Hand Signal Signs for Classroom Management}
  • 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. You can buy it at craft stores and Walmart and fabric stores. At a low cost. Bonus!
  • In the past I have added bulletin board border alone to the window on my door and was quite happy with it. This year I decided to mix it up and use ribbon. 
  • I used the blue, but felt like it needed more color.  So I layered on some orange. I slept on it and when I looked at it again the next day I felt like it needed a little something more. So I added the black border.
{Also Pictured: Hand Signal Signs for Classroom Management}

Project #9: Hand Sanitizer and Tape

  • This year I wanted my classroom to be colorful, but really focused on creating an environment that would eliminate as much distraction as possible. I found that using only two colors (lime green & aqua) with black accents helped me with that goal. I included different patterns and textures to keep it interesting, but overall the look is cohesive.
  • Once you finish the boards and decorating bigger items in your classroom, start looking for small projects that would be quick and easy, but would make a difference. 
  • This project cost nothing since I used scraps from other projects. I simply trimmed down some black cardstock, wrapped it around the tissue box and hand sanitizer and hot glued it closed in the back. Next I hot-glued some ribbon that coordinates with my classroom around each item. Done!
  • I would suggest adding a label to the item since you are covering it. The labels were already hanging. They are from my Classroom Labels Kit.
  • This was a spontaneous project. If I were to do it again (and I’m sure I will…I’m looking at you hand soap), I would cut the strips of paper to size and laminate them before attaching them to protect them from drips.
  • This project took me about 5 minutes.

Fire Code Schmire Code: Cute Classroom Tips & Ideas

“I love all of the ideas I see for classrooms, but we have strict fire codes.” I hear this often! In response, here is a list of ideas for you to try without the fire department taking a hose to it:

  • Brightly colored baskets and bins
  • Spray painted trash can
  • Painted bulletin boards
  • Colorful Duct Tape around boards
  • Plants with snazzy painted pots
  • Vinyl wall clings
  • Funky frames
  • Fabric chair
  • Homemade vinyl rug (vinyl tablecloth coated in a sealer to make a rug of sorts)
  • Tape flooring (vinyl tape on the floor)
  • Paperless bulletin board (a picture frame with clothesline nailed to the back)
  • Clipboards (use decorative clipboards to display work)






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