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Classroom Decorating Trends for 2012

The BEST classroom decorating trends of 2012 by Schoolgirl Style

Since Schoolgirl Style began in 2011, I’ve observed a huge shift in classroom decorating.  Previously, I would see a hodge podge of colors and patterns thrown together with little attention to creating a cohesive environment.  NOW, teachers are having FUN creating the classroom of their dreams by decorating with themes and coordinated classroom décor.

When January rolled around, it wasn’t unusual for me to start thinking about how I was planning to decorate my classroom for the next school year!  Completely changing my environment from year to year helped me from feeling burned out and kept the excitement in teaching!

Thousands of you felt that excitement as well and completely transformed your own classrooms! 

Here were the biggest classroom decorating trends of 2012…

1.  OWLS


My Owl Collection was, by far, the biggest seller of 2012.  An owl classroom theme tends to be gender neutral which appeals to so many teachers.  Paired with bright polka dots, the owl classroom is happy and welcoming for everyone that enters the room!


bird collage

This was the year for birds!  The blue, green, and brown color combination creates such a peaceful and tranquil space.  The bird classroom theme is perfect for the teacher that craves a calming environment.  “THE TREE” was the big focal point of the classroom.  Many teachers were duplicating a classroom tree in their own rooms in 2012!  Oh…and you can’t forget those darling bird nests above the tables!  When you walked into this bird classroom, “WOW!” was the first thing that came to mind.


polka dots and daisies collage

The polka dot classroom theme was my very first Schoolgirl Style classroom and I still LOVE it!  The striking contrast of black and white was a favorite of many teachers.  You could pair this with any color and the end product is stunning!  The paper daisies hanging over the tables put this classroom over the top!  Decorating a classroom in a polka dot theme was an extremely popular choice in 2012!


primary apple collage

A traditional apple classroom theme is still extremely popular among teachers.  This particular collection put a modern twist on the apple theme!  Created in bright primary colors, and adorable worm details, this collection became a favorite for elementary teachers!  Not to mention, it included the popular chevron classroom design that trendy teachers craved!

5.  Carnival Theme

carnival collage

I had envisioned a carnival/circus classroom theme for years!  This was one of my first classroom themes that Schoolgirl Style featured.  The classic red stripes and colorful polka dots created a dreamy classroom environment for teachers everywhere!  Can you imagine walking into this classroom everyday?!?  This is such a fun way to create a space where children enjoy coming to everyday!

Which is your favorite?  Are you thinking about your next classroom design?  It will be interesting to see if our Top 5 changes in 2013!


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  1. Owls!!! Your owl set helped me focus on a color scheme and incorporate bright, vibrant colors into my theme. Next year, I am going to incorporate chevron into my theme!

    • I absolutely love your themes and creativity. I feel it is so important for a classroom, and especially in Kindergarten. A lot of my creativity is being squashed where I currently am. Do you beer provide personal help with classroom design, or does Creative Teaching Press ever offer grants or classroom makeovers? My tree is even being asked to be taken down! Help!

  2. I loved your Earthy (Green/Blue/Brown) bird theme!! I borrowed some of your wonderful ideas and used this theme in my kindergarten classroom and noticed a huge shift in calmness from my kinders this year! I love it! I think the carnival theme is also super cute, but enjoy the zen-ness the earthy colors brought to my classroom. Thank you for always sharing such wonderful and adorable ideas!

  3. I like your designs. This is my 39 year of teaching and u r so right about changing decor to keep from burning out! I would like to share that there needs to be sensitivity to cultures. Native Americana groups are superstitious of owls. I do realize that you are designing for everyone but thought to share this! Great designs ans attention to details!

  4. What a great post! My classroom is definitely a hodge podge without a cohesive theme. But right now I am feeling motivated to go for it!

    • Hahaha! Well…I am coming out with it in February, so I don’t want to give it away. 🙂 I also think gray is the new black. Anything with gray will do really well. Polka dots will never go out of style. I also think chevron will be huge, but it needs to be in small doses. Too much chevron can make everyone dizzy! 🙂

      • I have to say that I’m over chevron. But I agree with you that polka dots are eternal. Personally, I love owls. LOVE them!!

  5. I loved your bird themed room. I have used the brown, blue and greens in my room. I get comments everytime someone new walks in. Can’t wait to see what you do for 2013!

  6. I had polka dots for many years and finally decided to switch it up this year. For me new grade level + new room= new theme. I went patriotic. Red, white, and blue everywhere. My 5th graders all love it. It would be great if you could post some stylish solutions for teachers who have to deal more strict fire codes. (We got slammed this year, and I had to take down a bunch of stuff. Made the space seem very plain.)


    • I actually do have a post called “How to decorate without upsetting the Fire Marshal.” If you go to my search bar, type in a keyword and it should pop up! Hope that helps! 🙂

  7. This year I did a Surf Theme with Chevron, I have to share pics sometime. Anyway I like it so much I think I will keep it a bit longer. 🙂 But I always do love the blue and green from your former room. It always calls out to me. LOL


  8. I have had a Hollywood theme with black, red and zebra color focus for two years now. You are so right! January rolled around and I just decided this weekend on next year’s theme. I am going with your Happy Honeybee Collection and just changing out my red for yellow and adding more white. A nice way to incorporate things I already have.

  9. I did mine in your bird theme as well. Everyone loves how calm my room feels. I am a much calmer teacher this year! Thanks for the inspiration and the downloads to make our rooms beautiful!

  10. This is a new teacher’s paradise! Thank you for sharing so many great ideas. I am currently enrolled in a teacher education program and will begin teaching in two years. I can’t wait to use these ideas! I love the carnival theme. The only thing it needs is cotton candy… for the teacher. 🙂

  11. I am a preschool teacher. I have taught many of the elementary grades, as well. This is my 12 year in preschool, and I try to do a new theme each year. I started out with a rainbow theme,as the name of my class is the Pot of Gold Preschool. my curtains are rainbow stripes that I made myself, and I have to a say it is past due for a change. This year my theme is Rock and Roll, with a more 50″s flair to it. We too had to take everything down from our ceilings a couple of years ago too, because of the fire codes. I would like to to a circus / carnival theme next year, but am having a hard time finding things to use or at least where to look for things. I am also fairly new to pinterest, and have found it very addicting of any free time I might possibly have. Storage is is big problem for me, and setting up all the stations for a preschool room. Looking for any help or advice you or anyone else can give. I am handy with a sewing machine, and just purchased an embroidery machine. Am wondering if I can use them to enhance anything. I so enjoy your blog and looking at all of your amzing pictures. Kay

    • I have done a carnival/circus theme in my room for 5 years now. here are a few things I’ve done/used…

      I get a lot of stuff from Oriental Trader: circus canopy tent with netting for a focal point or to set off a section such as the library, big top banner (I personalized it with BIG TOP BEHAVIOR and listed 3 main rules on it), frames for displaying student pictures, tattoos and clown noses go into the foldup carnival “treat box” for a “Welcome to School” gift (I also put in it a small, carnival style box of animal crackers.) They also sell games for carnival that can be used in centers.

      From Target, I use the red and white plastic popcorn boxes often found on the dollar shelves. They can be used for storage of different writing and art supplies – they come in short and tall sizes.

      I call my helpers for the day the “Clown Crew” and each has a special tie or hat to designate what job they have and a silly clown name, as well :o) “Lucky” is the line leader (Lucky, Lucky, lead like a ducky.) “Knobby” is the door-holder (Knobby, Knobby, do your jobby.) “Wishy” leads the class in wishing well our friends who are absent (part of the Conscious Discipline rituals), “Kissy” helps our stuffed “Kissy-Bear” give a welcome back kiss to friends returning from an absence (part of Conscious Discipline rituals), “Bello” holds the flags/leads the pledges and does any other assisting the teacher may need – this name is from the famous clown named Bello I saw at the Circus a few years back. “GoGo” is my clown who leads our counting procedures and chooses an exercise to do to get us “going” – it started out as my errand runner in 2nd grade, but I don’t send Pre-K kids on errands, so that had to be changed! One year I used cloth clown ties from the dollar store and wrote the names on them with fabric paint. This year I made ties of tagboard and laminated them, attaching them to a piece of elastic. It worked fine, but Pre-Kers like to chew them! They are easy enough to remake, though. After Mardi Gras, I got some bright colored, small derby style hats. For next year, I plan to make a colorful hatband with the clown name to put on each hat. They love to wear the special ties/hats, and it helps me see who has what job.

      We watch sections of a video of the circus at the beginning of the year, and I compare it to our classroom in that a circus/school is fun and exciting, and how all the circus performers/students need to work hard to succeed. We talk about how clowns have to always play the part of their clown character when they are in costume, and how we have a certain part we play when in school.
      I hope this helps…have fun with it!

  12. So excited for this year. My theme is sock monkeys. I have asked facebook friends to make or donate sock monkeys so everyone in the class will have a new friend & great keepsake from Pre-K. There’s a lot of good already made items, but making a lot of my own.

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