Many families rely on day care. While toys, books, even videos play a big part in day care centers, nothing sets the tone like the space itself. There are many options available for decorating day care centers, but it is important to only use kid-safe decorations. That means that paint must be lead free, adhesives must be non-toxic and decorative parts must be too big to swallow or choke on.
Murals are a long-lasting way of decorating a day care environment. Letters, numbers, encouraging phrases, even favorite stories can all be illustrated on the walls. Make sure that the paints used for the murals meet all state and local safety requirements. Hiring a professional muralist to complete the mural can be expensive; but an overhead projector can be trained on the wall, allowing almost anyone to trace the projected image and fill it in with paint.
Children love to draw, and they love to see their hard work on display for the whole world to see. But there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to displaying artwork. First, make sure that whatever type of adhesive used is not toxic. Second, it is important to make sure that no child will choke on the adhesive. Sticky Tac, Blue Stick and Scotch Adhesive Putty are a few of the many pliable plastic adhesives that can easily be swallowed by children and should not be used in day cares. Depending on the type of interior paint on the wall, hot glue can be a good product. Simply apply a small bead of hot glue to the wall and immediately put the paper on top of the glue. To remove the artwork, carefully peel the glue from the wall then peel the glue from the paper. Discard the glue before giving the artwork to the child.
Bulletin or White Board (or Both!)
Bulletin boards aren't just for communication anymore. Cover them with cloth and photos, or with a map of the world that shows where the family of each child came from. With a little imagination, bulletin boards become a canvas that can be changed frequently. White boards are even easier to change. Create new pictures daily using colored pens. Or, to help children learn and spark their imagination, draw only part of a picture every day. Ask the children what it might become and compare their guess with the final product.
Bookstores and movie theaters often have promotional material that is discarded. It's worth a quick phone call to see what they might be willing to donate that you could use to decorate your day care. If there is a book that is a class (or teacher) favorite, consider emailing the publisher. There may be artwork, posters or cardboard cutouts that the publisher can donate. Another good resource is the Consumer Information Catalog. This is a clearinghouse of colorful government handouts, posters and freebies on health and safety issues.