How to Color Your Classroom

You’re a student walking down a dimly lit, beige hallway. Imagine how you feel. All of a sudden, you turn the corner into a bright, yellow-walled classroom with plants by the windows. Immediately, you feel energized by the vibrancy and airiness of the room. You are ready to tackle that group project.

Last summer, we created this video to give you a glimpse at the influence of color in a classroom:

Let’s revisit what we learned.

First off, why do colors matter?

If you are in your classroom, look around! What colors pop out to you most? Look closely, they may hold a few secret learning strategies for your students. Research shows that colors in the classroom could maximize information retention and stimulate participation. Let’s walk through some learning spaces that play with color.

1. Red

The Khan Lab School’s art space is a great example of the active, strong, attention-grabbing quality of red. This bold accent wall creates a high-energy, creative place for students to make and craft. With red, a little bit goes a long way — too much intensity could create an aggressive atmosphere.

2. Yellow

This Urban Discovery Academy classroom utilizes yellow to bring about a cheerful atmosphere, which facilitates classroom collaboration. The petal-shaped tables liven up the seating options and create space to move. (If you’re curious about active learning, check out last week’s blog post!) Yellow helps reflect light, adding a pop of color to an otherwise muted room. However, it is best to use bright, vibrant colors sparingly — too much yellow could lead to eye fatigue.

3. Green

Looking to create a relaxing, natural, and quiet setting? NuVu took advantage of the eye-catching yet calming qualities of green in their Fabrication Studio. This bright lime green jolts the senses, important for keeping students awake and alert while using heavy-duty tools! When selecting shades of green, be aware that darker hues could appear bland or flat.

4. Blue

This blue accent wall of the Girls Garage offers a comforting hub for students to work on their own projects. The periwinkle blue creates a calm yet inspiring environment, which complements the buzz of the drills and hammers. Be careful with darker tints; too much blue can feel cold or aloof.

Color on a Shoestring

Don’t have the budget to paint the school red? (Pun intended.) Here are some low-cost ways to color smarter:

  • Paint accent walls. If you are starting out with white or neutral walls, try painting just one wall a bright color. This gives the room an instant pop and offers a great backdrop for whiteboard paint or student work.
  • Choose furniture strategically. If your walls are neutral, add a few brightly colored chairs or bookcases to liven up the entire room.
  • Grow indoor plants. Add some green to breathe life and calm into the classroom.

There are many approaches to integrating color theory in the classroom. In this post we talked about individual colors, but there are countless ways to use combine colors for effect. So, we want to know — how do you color your room? Share your hacks with us on or on Twitter at @HackClassrooms!

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