Fashionable Classrooms For Back-To-School
by Tina Manzer

Taking its cues from popular culture, today’s creators of classroom décor are presenting colors that pop, matching motifs, and kid-favorite themes to create a welcoming environment for back-to-school. Here are the specifics.

Teachers are looking for “bright cheerful designs that welcome students and make everyone feel happy to be back at school,” said Amy LasCola from Teacher Created Resources. “Our welcome postcards and banners, classroom calendars, name plates that illustrate proper handwriting and cute stickers are always among our best sellers during the back-to- school season.”

“Regardless of the theme or design, teachers want a coordinated look that ties the classroom environment together,” noted Brandi West, marketing manager at Creative Teaching Press.They want it all: coordinating name plates, name tags, bulletin boards, classroom essential charts, designer letters, stickers, computer paper and more. For teachers, their classroom is a ‘home away from home.’ They want it to reflect their personal style.”

Having everything match is important, agreed Janet Bolinske from McDonald Publishing.In terms of product lines, our Brainy Borders and Chalkboard Toppers sell very well during back-to-school.Many of the titles coordinate with each other, and they add a fresh new look to any classroom.”

Favorite motifs include monkeys, space, the farm, the ocean and/or beach, and the jungle, said West, who added, “Robots seem to be making headway, too, and anything we have with apples does very well. The design of our apple-themed products is continually refreshed and without fail, they sell well.”

“Paw prints, peace signs and stars seem especially popular right now,” said LasCola.

Educational themes showcased by new decor include math, reading and writing, and anti-bullying. LasCola noted a growing emphasis on STEM, and West pointed to more technology related learning décor.

“We find that teachers in the middle and upper grades are focusing more on teaching the basics than on presenting a particular decorative theme.
Topics such as geometry and the scientific method consistently sell well,” said Bolinske.

According to February Fashion Week in NewYork, London, Milan, and Paris – Clashing colors, like pink and red, are hot. So is the practice of mixing plaids, using tribal prints, the color red, and neutral palettes including camel shades and “blushing nudes.”

According to the National Stationery Show in New York in May – Favorite motifs include peacocks and hedgehogs, also cupcakes and bicycles.Bold-on-bold color is popular, especially turquoise (the 2010 Color of theYear), Honeysuckle (the 2011 Color of theYear) and purple combined with serene blues and bright pinks.Watch for more “green” – as in recycled paper, vegetable dyes and soy inks; and high-contrast designs from cultures around the world.

According to a Ford Motor Company study of car buying trends and vehicle colors – White, black, silver and gray are the most popular, depending on the region. Silver and gray are favorites in Los Angeles and NewYork, Black is king in Boston and white is tops for San Francisco. Red is popular in the Midwest, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia both like green. In Europe, Ireland prefers silver, Denmark likes black and both French and Italian drivers are fans of tan. Drivers in the Czech Republic like blue.

Polka dots and contrasting fashion colors are everywhere. Even neutrals have their place

“Certainly, bright colors are far more popular in elementary and middle school classrooms than neutrals,” saidAmy Las- Cola, who noted that lime green and black seem to be current favorite colors, and polka dots the favorite pattern.There also seems to be a slight trend away from primary colors to brighter colors like hot pink, aqua, lime, tangerine and magenta.”

Brandi West said, “Like any other consumer, teachers are often drawn to the looks they see in mainstream culture and fashion, so neutrals for some teachers may be welcome, and give them another option.

“Our Dots on Chocolate line has more subtle tones and does very well, and our Lots of Dots Brown is among our top-selling borders,” she continued.

“When we introduced our Dots on Black border, it became an instant hit. We now have an entire line of Dots on Black learning décor, including a Dots on Black Apples Bulletin Board set!

“When it comes to classroom décor, more important than color scheme is that it makes the classroom environment warm and inviting, where students feel welcome and engaged in what they are learning.This can be achieved with a wide variety of colors and motifs,” she concluded.

 From the Volume 36, Number 3 July 2011 Issue of Educational Dealer magazine, used with permission.