Increasing Classroom Personalization – 8 Easy Projects to Try

In order to give students opportunities to express themselves within school environment, without scribbling on their desks, or carving their names into trees in school yard, I’m sharing some ideas that Maxwell and Chmiewski (2008) offered to teachers who participated in their study of effects of classroom personalization on children self-esteem (more here).

photo by cayoup

Even though these ideas were intended for kindergarteners and first graders, some of them are transferable to older students as well. They are inexpensive, easy and fun for young children. Here they are… (inspiring photos included!)

1) Move wall displays from adult eye-level  to child’s eye-level.
2) Post every child’s art projects, stories, etc. — not just a select few examples of the “best.”

photo by cayoup

3) Obtain a photograph of each child and let the children make picture frames for the photograph. Then, display these photographs in their frames so everyone can see each other’s work. Also, if the child’s name does not appear on the picture frame, it is recommended that their name be posted next to their picture.

4) Create and post a chart that has the child’s birth date, height, favorite color, favorite animal, etc. Please make sure that this is not some boring data sheet. For example, make it visually interesting and maybe even interactive.

photo by The-E

5) Re-do the classroom’s bulletin boards with the help of the children. So that instead of have having teacher-made boards, the bulletins are student designed and decorated. The children can be part of the whole process: they can design the layout, cut out/make the pieces, and help post them.

photo by Julie Facine

6) Have the children paint a mural on the door to their classroom (or on the wall next to the door). Note: this does not have to be a permanent feature. It could be done on a big piece of paper that is then affixed to the door or wall.

photo by cayoup

7) Have the children decorate their desks. Note: this does not have to be a permanent feature. Instead, affixing a piece of paper to the desktop would be sufficient. This paper can then be decorated with items that are in some way personal to the child, such as using the child’s favorite color, their name, a favorite animal, etc.

photo by cayoup

8. Have the children create an art project relating to an upcoming holiday or season (e.g. Spring, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, etc.) and post this project in the classroom or just outside the classroom. This project can be done individually (i.e. each child prepares something) or it can be done as a class (one large project created by everyone).


1. Maxwell, L.E. and Chmielewski, E.J. (2008) Environmental personalization and elementary school children’s self-esteem. Journal of Environmental Psychology 28, 143–153.

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