Home Sweet Art Room: Creating a Welcoming Environment

Although many students love art, some may still be shy about school in general, especially at the beginning of the year.

Below are four ways to make students feel more at home in the art room this school year.

1. Make a Welcome sign.

I hadn’t thought of this idea until a colleague mentioned it to me, but a welcome sign outside your door makes students and parents feel immediately at ease. It says, “I’m happy you’re here! Come on in!” As a bonus, making a welcome sign is a nice break from all the other tedious jobs we have to do before school starts. If you don’t want to create a handmade sign, utilize some of the fun fonts on your computer. Five minutes, and you’re done!

2. Create a space for student art.

We all display art in our hallways, but do you display art in the art room? I create a “Look What We Did!” space on one of my bulletin boards inside the room to display art that students do at home or in the extra time they have after finishing projects. Having their artwork proudly displayed in the room makes them feel invested in the space.

3. Use unexpected materials to create a colorful atmosphere.

A bright, thoughtful space will make students look forward to coming to the art room. Look around for inexpensive ways to spruce up your space. I’ve used leftover paper borders, paint chips, and cut-up laminated art-themed calendars to add special touches.

A leftover border created a fun edge on the top of the kiln room wall.

Paint Chips helped spruce up the speaker.

A cut-up, laminated calendar added a fun touch to the paper towel dispenser.

4. Go bilingual!

Many of us teach ESL students in our schools. Why not make them and their parents feel extra welcome by including their first languages in your room? The vast majority of my ESL students speak Spanish as their first language. So, I chose a bilingual carpet, and have made my signs in both English and Spanish. Seek out a language teacher in your district if you need help.

These strategies are a great first step in building relationships with your students, a key ingredient for a great school year!

How do you create a welcoming environment for your students?

Have you done DIY decorating in your classroom? What materials did you use?

Amanda Heyn

Learning Team

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • I love how you decorated the speaker and the paper towel dispenser!  I have a bunch of paint chips I have been saving in my desk drawer. Now I know what I want to do with them!  Thanks for the great idea! :)

    • Aren’t paint chips the BEST? Sometimes I feel guilty taking a bunch when I know I’m not buying paint…but I just can’t help it! 

  • Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas! I LOVE the speaker idea! I have been trying to revamp my own art room this Fall to make it feel more homey!

  • Meg Walsh

    Ive done all my own DIY for motivational posters so far to decorate so far! : )

  • Meg Walsh

    Sorry to post twice haha the first one didn’t let me add my name! Im Meg and a first year Art teacher, right now  I’m doing a long term art Sub job, and I’m trying to ensure the kids have a great half of the year by adding as much color and personal work as possible!

    • Sounds like you are really making your room a place kids want to be! Good luck with your first year :) We’ll be here for you! 

  • Jill Yanik

    In my room last year I made a giant paper fridge, and told the kids I was their art mom and would hang their artwork proudly on my fridge. Well, in one week you couldn’t see the fridge and half of my wall was covered! It was pretty awesome though and got them excited.

    • That is beyond cute, Jill. I love it! 

    • Emily Joyce

       Hi Jill! I love this idea! Great way to display things they make for you, instead of just pinning it up in the office. SO borrowing this idea.

  • Erica

    Jessica where can we get info on your PD packs? I think this is an amazing concept! Thank u for putting in the work. You always have something up your sleeve!

    • They will launch Mid- September for purchase, and all of the info will be available then. For now, just a teaser!

      • erica


  • Great idea decorating the paper towel dispenser. My art room this year is very large (great problem to have, I know.)  It is sometimes harder for me to decorate a large room. I guess because large spaces don’t feel like home to me. And, oh boy, do I love your carpet.

    • I know! Her carpet is amazing. I wish I had found one like that when I purchased mine. Mine is of a world map, which is still appropriate for art.

  • Angela Karamian

    I have lamps (3 of them) around my classroom. They make the spaces look very cozy and warm. I also post pictures of my students around the room they love it.

    • Vivian

      Which students/grades to choose, with so many students? How do you choose whose pictures go up?

  • Vivian

    I have acquired a carpet, a world map one like yours. My chairs and tables are a little big for the younger students, so I know it’ll make a difference for students and myself. I have created and put up a Welcome banner that I laminated so I can use over and over again. I also added a couple of vases with flowers, more color to the white walls with bulletin board paper. I used baby blue to unify the space. I plan to make a few curtains too so that when I use the projector, images will be more crisp. I hope everyone has a wonderful school year!

    • Vivian

      Also, I like the idea of a lamp. That would be wonderful to add and I do have an extra one at home that’s a possibility.

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