Education isn’t obtained only in books and in the classroom. Everywhere a child goes and everything he sees is an opportunity to teach him something. In an effort to further educate children and to encourage their participation in school activities, many schools use their hallways and cafeterias as a decorative backdrop for art projects created by students. Use your school’s cafeteria as a way to educate students about the months of the year. Decorate the cafeteria each month by highlighting something important about that month. To go one step further, let students make the decorations each month as an art project.
Welcome students back to school after their summer vacation by decorating the cafeteria walls with back-to-school items. Photos or artwork of pens, pencils and backpacks, as well as welcome signs, all welcome students back to school in August or September – depending on when your school year begins. Have your students trace one hand and write their name in the palm of their hand. On each finger have your students write five things: a goal, a hope and a wish for the school year; one fun thing they hope to do before summer vacation; and one fun fact about themselves. Place the drawings on the walls of the cafeteria. Students can get to know each other by reading each other's hands and by taking the time to really think about what it is they want to accomplish this year in school.
Decorate for Halloween in October. Halloween is a favorite holiday for children – candy and costumes, anyone? Place pumpkins on tables and cut out and decorate pumpkins, bats, cats and other scary things from construction paper to hang on the walls and from the ceilings.
Use November as a month to teach students about the importance of Thanksgiving. Hang images of turkeys, pilgrims and Indians on the walls. Encourage students to bring in photos of their friends and families to hang on a bulletin board. Title the board, “Things For Which We are Thankful.”
Start December and the Christmas holidays with trees, empty boxes wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper and other Christmas decorations. Have students draw Christmas cookies and decorations and then cut them out to hang on the walls. Put Santa decorations and Hanukah decorations on the walls to celebrate both holidays. Include a manger to show the children how Christmas came to be and what it means.
Create a winter wonderland and welcome students back to school in January after the Christmas holidays by sticking snowflakes to the walls and hanging them from the ceiling. Place “Happy New Year” decorations on the walls.
Bring love into the cafeteria for February. Have students use red, pink and white construction paper to cut out giant hearts and place fun sayings on them. Hang the hearts on the walls. February is also Black History Month: decorate the walls with inspirational African American people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubman, along with a short biography of each.
Bring Spring to the cafeteria in March by celebrating with Easter decorations. Painted eggs, plastic eggs and pictures of the Bunny himself make kids excited for their own visit from the Easter Bunny.
Decorate for April and May with flowers and other Spring decorations. After all, April showers bring May flowers. Use the wall to create a field of flowers by using blue paper to cover the wall, then cutting out a sun from yellow paper to place on the blue “sky," then making grass out of green construction paper to put along the bottom of the wall. Make flowers out of construction paper, giving you stems, petals and leaves to place in the grass up against the sky.
Finish the school year with the month of June by decorating for graduation. Even though students aren’t graduates, they are leaving one grade for the next. Have students make banners wishing their peers a good summer vacation and have them write one sentence that describes their best memory of that school year.
Use double sided tape to apply decorations to the walls and string or yarn to hang décor from the ceiling.
Arts and crafts stores, as well as stores where nothing costs more than $1, sell holiday-related decorations for inexpensive prices. Window clings, posters, wall art and other decorations are affordable and are reusable for years to come.