Just like the children and young adults that roam their halls, schools are often blank canvases. When it comes to signs and graphics adorning schools and universities, there is usually no shortage of those reflecting school pride: paw print floor graphics leading down the halls, school mascots “breaking through” brick walls and messages on the wall of the cafeteria.
While these graphics are important and create a sense of community, the opportunity to teach through graphics is being missed. With many surfaces on campuses underutilized, there are a myriad of ways teachers and other school officials can get creative and teach students a little extra every day.
Walls are probably the most underutilized space in schools. With so many walls making up classrooms, hallways and offices, why not put messages on them? Wall graphics can turn a corridor into a canvas. Adding a wall graphic depicting famous historical figures can help children remember names, dates and important quotes. A wall mural at the back of a science classroom showing important scientific breakthroughs throughout history reinforces the material being taught. And with new breakthroughs in vinyl technology, graphics can be applied to almost every type of wall, including cinder block and heavily textured walls.
High school hallways are lined with what seems to be miles of lockers. With so much real estate devoted to these blank slates, they’re the perfect place to teach another quick lesson. Perhaps one of the most interesting uses could be turning each locker into a book spine. With their shape and smooth surface, a vinyl book wrap seems like a natural fit.
Floors are another surface that command a lot of real estate, and with non-slip floor graphics or digital projection, schools can create a learning experience while children walk through the halls. Image walking through a school and seeing a massive graphic of a globe on the floor, complete with a star next to the name of each country’s capital city. One moment, kids are striding over Vaduz (the capital of Liechtenstein) and the next, stepping onto the shoreline of Sri Lanka. Seeing that massive map every day would certainly make an impression and remind kids about just how vast our world really is maybe inspire them to want to see more of it one day.
Do you count the stairs when you walk up them? Installing graphics onto the riser of the steps on school staircases can reinforce ways to count. Print the multiplication tables on them and kids will transition from “1, 2, 3…” as they climb to “2 times 1 equals 2, 2 times 2 equals 4, 2 times 3 equals 6…”.
And don’t forget desks and tables. With something so prevalent, it’s easy to see the possibilities to passively teach with them. From a wrap showing the parts of a flower to creating a “periodic” table, a table wrap is sure to stick in the minds of students.
There are many other places throughout a school where signs and graphics such as these can be added to supplement students’ learning. Once you start imagining the possibilities for converting these blank spaces into learning experiences, it’s hard not to see all of the opportunities around you.