Suggestions for Beautifying the School-Room (1941)


  1. Importance of attractive surroundings.
  2. Teacher needs---
    (a) Initiative
    (b) Resoucefulness
    (c) Vision
  3. Desirable school equipment.
  4. Demands of activity programme.

Suggestions for Improving the Rural School

  1. Desks, movable if possible, fastened together on runners; experiment with placing so as to obtain proper lighting and free space. Scour and revarnish.
  2. Old desks---reference material and dictionary.
  3. Windows---curtains are desirable---business like curtains---one-sixth to one-third length of window, up from the bottom in preference to down from the top; such material as unbleached cotton with coloured borders or applique of print or cretonne, cotton crepe or cretonne---often easily obtained from discarded curtains from the homes.
  4. General supply cupboards---canned milk or butter boxes partitioned and placed in one side of the cloak-room. These will hold paint, enamel, brushes, clay or other general supplies.
  5. Work-tables---old tables and benches repaired and covered with a flat paint.
  6. Cupboards---orange or apple boxes nailed together, prepared with wallpapered curtained with print or gay cretonne; for individual workbooks, papers, and supplies.
  7. Shelves---built into cloak-room; for storing boxes needed to hold odds and ends of equipment.
  8. Chairs---orange or apple boxes, tree stumps of suitable size cut, smoothed off, and perhaps painted.
  9. Screens---framework covered with burlap or paper---useful for screening off a corner---study or library corner---for display boards, bulletin boards, background for dramatics, etc.
  10. Files---boxes of suitable size, partitioned with cardboard suitably labelled.
  11. Waste-paper baskets---medium sized cartons covered with wallpapered decorated, old baskets painted.
  12. Curtains and runners---print, unbleached cotton print, gingham or cretonne made by the children.
  13. Pictures---old calendars with pads and advertising matter removed; suitable subjects, as historical events, maps, Indians, well-known people, children's own drawings---to be changed frequently.
  14. Plants---well-cared-for potted plants.
  15. Enamelled pots---for plants---covers for pots made from wallpaper.
  16. Vases---made from old jars enamelled and ornamented.
  17. Flower-stands---made and painted.


  1. Principles to remember in all school-made and adapted equipment:
    (a) Simplicity in design.
    (b) Correctness in line.
    (c) Good proportions.
    (d) Durability in quality.
  2. All edges of wooden tables and desks made by local carpenter or by children should be bevelled (danger of splinters).

Useful Materials to have on Hand.

Wooden boxes---apple or orange boxes if taken apart carefully may be used for foundations or walls of houses and buildings the children wish to make, for individual lockers, storage shelves, etc.

Pasteboard boxes---large sized envelopes (patterns, drawings, designs, etc.).

Sewing boxes (scraps, wool samples, pins, needles, thread, etc.).

Large pasteboard boxes labelled: (a) “Geography and History Box”; (b) “Art Box”; (c) “Crepe Paper Box”; (d) “ Odds and Ends Box” (this might contain wire, cardboard, small pieces of wood, burned matches, tin, old coils of fine wire, old umbrella stays---map making, etc.); (e) tools (small tools, tacks, nails, etc.); (f) old calendars---most attractive and also historical pictures could be used for changes as wall pictures---the backs of others could be used for map drawing.

Paper---wall-paper sample books, scraps of wall-paper, smooth pieces of wrapping paper saved by children in their home, unprinted newspaper.

Rags---discarded clothing---dyeing adds to interest; old wooden sweater unraveled, string.

Inner tubes from automobile tires--- stuffed animals, handbags---punched around the edges of the pattern and laced or sewn together.

Clay---suitable clay may be found in the vicinity of the school---should be stored in a tightly covered jar.


  1. Always see that materials are collected for a definite purpose.
  2. See that the object for which they are collected is sufficiently valuable to justify the expenditure of the children's time and energies.

The Rural Teacher as Housekeeper
Source: British Columbia. Department of Education. Programme of Study for Elementary Schools, 1941, pp. 20-21
Transcribed by Tracy Ollenberger and Brigitte Bjornson, History 349, Malaspina University-College, March 2001