Creating Interactive Bulletin Board Displays with Students


In addition to adding color to a classroom, defining classroom goals and policies, and showcasing student work, bulletin boards can be interactive teaching tools. Bulletin boards can be “another teacher” in your classroom. Bulletin board displays that change periodically to reflect new lessons help visual learners better understand new material, reinforce new words and concepts, and challenge students to participate in new ways.

Using Bulletin Boards to Teach

Bulletin boards can be education tools as well as colorful decorations. Teachers can use bulletin boards to teach math, language arts, geography, and other disciplines. Bulletin boards can introduce new topics and generate student interest. A bulletin board with dinosaur bones, for example, can introduce a unit on dinosaurs. Students assemble the bones into the skeleton of a dinosaur, either on their own or step-by-step, adding a bone as they complete another activity so that the skeleton emerges piece by piece. A math bulletin board might give the answer to a problem and challenge students to create all the problems they can think of with that answer.

Bulletin boards are also self-teaching tools for students. Teachers design learning activities using the boards and movable parts affixed to them and students can move from board to board during free or quiet time to complete the activity. Students can add their own literary compositions to blank bulletin boards or respond to prompts given by the teacher. Students can also voice their opinions on bulletin boards, voting on favorite books and recommending reading material to others.

Bulletin boards used as word walls can be powerful vocabulary-building tools. As students are exposed to new vocabulary, key vocabulary words are added gradually to the wall. Teachers facilitate review activities to practice the new words. Activities that allow students to interact with the word wall, such as those that involve moving the words to different categories or locations on the wall, help students understand and retain the new vocabulary.

Interactive Bulletin Boards

Bulletin boards that challenge students to interact with them can engage them in the learning process more effectively than static display bulletin boards. Static bulletin boards can become simply part of the classroom décor after a few weeks, while interactive bulletin boards that change according to topical lesson plans can hold student interest and help different kinds of learners assimilate the new material in their own way and at their own pace. By allowing students to help create bulletin boards and to interact with them, students take ownership of the classroom and of their own learning experience. Students are challenged to be active learners and to actively seek out new information, to create new artwork, or to achieve higher grades that will be displayed on the boards.

Students can respond to prompts issued by the teacher to help create the boards. For example, students can bring in or draw pictures of words that begin with a certain letter, or items of a certain color, and post them to the board. The teacher can then prompt students to rearrange the material according to new categories. For example, items that begin with the letter “D” can then be rearranged by categories such as “animals”, “things”, and “people”. Bulletin boards can be self-quizzes that students help create. Students can be the “experts” on part of a topic or book and create questions or clues that are posted on the bulletin board. After providing time for students to research the answers, the original posters place their answers underneath the questions. Students then move from board to board to lift the flaps and grade their quizzes.

Creating Bulletin Boards with Students

Students can interact with bulletin boards by helping to create them or to provide their content. Students can create bulletin boards by working together to create small pieces of a larger project and piecing them together to form a completed whole. Students can work together to make a map of a region under study, filling in mountains, rivers, cities, indigenous groups, and other features as they are discussed in class. Students can work together to create great works of art by painting, drawing, or making a collage of a section of a famous work of art that will then be pieced together with other student works to create the larger finished masterpiece. Building a castle or house, a nature or farm scene, or “building” an animal lets students take the lead in learning about a new topic and giving them a finished product to display, which helps them take ownership of their learning experience.

Students can also provide the content of bulletin boards. Reader’s choice bulletin boards allow students to recommend favorite books and voting bulletin boards let students voice their opinions on books, movies, or artwork. Students write and post questions about their reading material or the current lesson to question bulletin boards and other students can discuss and post answers.

Interacting with bulletin boards after their creation is important to reinforce learning. Simple review activities led by the teacher, such as question and answer games, can keep student attention focused on the board and help cement new concepts. Answer quests, in which students must move from board to board to find the answers to questions, can also help review material. Moving the pieces of the bulletin boards to categorize the information differently, such as moving the animals in a farm scene into groups according to color or size, can keep the material fresh.

  • Creating Bulletin Boards: How interactive bulletin boards work and how to involve students. Site includes examples of interactive bulletin boards with explanations of how to implement them.

Interactive Bulletin Board Display Ideas

  • Middle School Math: Bulletin board examples for middle to early high school mathematics, including information on how to create the board and how to use it interactively with students.
  • Elementary Ideas: Bulletin board ideas to get everyone involved. Suitable for early elementary school.
  • Elementary Bulletin Boards: Interactive school bulletin board ideas for elementary school classrooms. Site also includes math and language arts bulletin board ideas.
  • Reading Bulletin Boards: Interactive ideas to get students more involved in reading. Suitable for later elementary and middle school.
  • Bulletin Board Baseball: Uses a bulletin board decorated as a baseball diamond to help students solve math problems.
  • Butterfly Bulletin Board: How to create an interactive bulletin board on butterfly anatomy, integrated within a larger lesson plan. Can be adapted for other animals.