I was hunting around for new themes to add to the DEN blog site and found it quite challenging to locate themes that would be a good fit for educators, right out of the box. Obviously anybody can swap out a banner and customize their own theme, but for people that just want something that will work right out of the box, there were precious few resources to draw from. SO, here is my Top 20 Themes for Education Blogs (plus three bonus themes).
Blue Skys – Bright colors, blue skys, puffy white clouds. A perfect theme for an Early Childhood room or a nice switch come springtime. Also features a nice large search bar and prominent link to the RSS feed.
Books and Imagination – A classic education theme for any and all grade levels. It is obviously intended to be interactive with readers, given the prominent placement of the Recent Posts and Recent Comments boxes. Readers who comment actually get as much prime real estate as the owner of the blog! With a little tweaking tho, you could probably change those boxes to suit other purposes. As it stands though, it would be very well suited to highlight recent class events as well as parent/student comments on them. It would really be perfect for a Library Media Center, with the tall stack of books, reading glasses, and emphasis on getting the ready involved. Below the fold, there are still plenty of room for sidebar links and widgets without sacrificing too much main body space in the center column. My only critique of this theme is that sidebar text is a little hard to read.
Colorful – I like the puzzle pieces, I love the bright colors. However, the items in the sidebars are basically black on black and rther hard to read. While this might serve for an educators personal blog, I wouldn’t use it for a classroom blog.
Cute Seasons – This theme would be perfect for any early childhood or elementary classroom. Featuring simple trees with green grass and light blue skies. Given the fall colors of the leaves, would also be a nice switch for autumn time, or for Earth day.
Cutline – This theme is a no-nonsense, three column theme that feels reminiscent of a newspaper. Rather than cute and warm, it’s sensible and straightforward. Clear lines and well balanced. Would work well at just about any level and make home for classroom news and information.
Dream On – This isn’t the fanciest theme in the world, but there’s nothing wrong with simplicity. Two adorable children in the banner, basic layout. This is a great starter theme. Very easy to get a nice clean looking blog. More advanced users may bemoan loss of usable space taken up by the wide alleys.
Feather Pen – This theme screams out old world style and class. The feather pin in the banner, the ink blog next to post titles, the mini ink blots for bullets… I’m not sure what the alleys are supposed to be, but they look like corkboard to me, with parchment laid over them. Feels very literary to me, perfect for a Language Arts or creative writing blog.
Feet Theme – This theme features a pen and hand writing in the banner. Strange thing about it is that on second glance, you realize that the pen is being held by… a foot? Yes, a foot. I don’t get it, but it still looks like it’d work for a quirky sort of middle school class blog. Ya gotta have the right sense of humor for this one, and I think we all know a teacher or two that would get a ‘kick’ out of it!
Golden Compass – Ignore the name of the theme. It has nothing to do with the movie. With its old world browns and yellows, this theme feels like a history lesson come to life. Perfect for any geography or social studies classes, as well as any class with a sense of adventure. One word of caution, block quotes are a bit hard to read, so you may want to consider avoiding those.
Glass Globe – Simple, straightforward, but also very sleek and techy. Basic Globe and cool blue coloring makes for a theme that would be suitable for any grade level. However, there are some sections with odd quotes/trivia that you’d probably want to edit out. So this theme is probably best for someone who has at least a basic comfort level editing HTML pages.
Goals – When I first looked at this theme, I thought it would be perfect for a soccer coach or PE teacher. However, after looking at it for a few minutes I realized that it feels more like the other definition of ‘goals’, as in objectives, than it does the sport… And that’s despite the actual soccer ball in the picture! With that in mind, I think it would serve well for upper elementary, middle or secondary school class blog. It really maximizes the space on the screen and despite the huge image, has plenty of space for your content. The vertical banner down the middle really gives it a unique feel in comparison to traditional themes.
Hands Up – Do I really need to explain the education connection here? A group of students with their hands in the air. However, given the dark color scheme and the minimal amount of text above the fold, I’d say that this is probably best suited to secondary or even college classes. It’s definitely a bold theme, not for the faint of heart.
Industria – Interestingly, this theme was supposed to be reminiscent of circuit boards and the like. Instead, it feels very childish, with its bright primary colors. And the grey blocks along the top feel vaguely like a spiral notebook to me. Very geometric, this would be sell suited to early childhood or elementary classes, or even a library media center!
Map – Another theme that would be perfect for celebrating Indiana Jones IV coming out, this theme features old world maps, a compass and a brittle, ancient journal. Browns and yellows dominate, but are offset by the white background behind primary text. Consequently it’s very easy to read and much friendlier than other similar themes. Geography, Social Studies, History, or any class ready to try their hand at amateur archeology!
Nap – Aaaahhhh, Springtime. Lying down in the grass, butterflies fluttering, a flower dangling from your outstretched toes. Bright, colorful, full of springy goodness, this theme just might be bright enough to help you last through a Chicago winter. Great theme for nearly any grade level, or any educator who lives on the sunny side of the road.
Office Theme – A solid wooden desk, piece of paper, envelope and number 2 pencil. Looks like a school theme to me! This would work just fine as a personal blog, as a classroom blog for any grade level, but it would also be a nice classy theme for an administrator. “Letters from the Superintendent” or something along those lines. Simple, without being stuffy or overstated.
SL-Documenting – Another theme featuring stationary and a desk, but this one has a few bills, a compass and some pencil shavings. While it’s very similar to “Office Theme”, the casual look to the banner and currency on the desk make me think it would be quite as good a choice for an administrator. Moving the sidebar off the stationary gives main body content a little more space, but makes widget text harder to read. Probably best suited as a traditional journal style blog, for class notes or for students daily writings.
SL-Ladybug – This theme is truly fascinating, combining classic elegance, nature, and Web 2.0 boldness. It features a thick picture frame enclosing in several leaves and a bright, glossy ladybug. The remainder the real estate in the banner is an “About this blog” pargraph that can be customized to your needs. Ladybugs adorn individual posts, as do large Web2.0 icons for sites like del.icio.us and Technorati, which link directly to AddThis. Playful, and high tech in a simple, understated way. Science classes, art classes, or just about any elementary classroom could make use of this theme.
SunFeast – From the first day of school to the first day of summer, this theme would brighten the face of any early elementary student. The rising sun framing a solitary tree surrounding by rolling hills, this theme looks like it was hand drawn with pastels. Bright colors dominate the theme, with heavy bold accents. Plenty of space is available too, to accommodate just about any widget or video you could ever care to embed.
The Book – A spiral bound journal frames this theme, with simple hand drawn lines separating header from text. Nothing fancy about this blog, it truly looks like a travel journal. There are two photos in the upper right corner, which would be perfect to display class artwork or photos, but would require some photo editing to do so. Otherwise you’d be stuck with the interesting combination of downhill skiing and an old west ghost town. While a little vanilla, it does contain subtle links to Dig and del.icio.us for each individual post.
BONUS – Three for free!
Just as I’m all set to hit publish, I discover three other new themes that had to be included. SO, here’s the three bonus themes
EduBlog – The open book in the banner is elegant, and I love the RSS symbol (a stick figure reading a newspaper), but the theme is just a tad dark for my tastes. Probably best suited to an individual’s blog, rather than a class site.
Old Paper – There’s just something about quills and inkwells… Classic writing utensils and parchment paper just seem right for education. Bright, easy to read, and ample body space for just about any widget, this would be well suited to a middle school class site. Could also work well for student blog activities, such as a class scribe!
In the Classroom – As if the name of this theme doesn’t say it all. This theme hits the trifecta of education related symbols: chalkboard, apple and books! I really do like this theme quite a bit. Recent Comments and Recent Posts are kept above the fold, but there’s still room to see the tops of the sidebars and the first post. Everything is easy to read and doesn’t waste any space with alleys. This is also one of very few themes that has a different color sidebar on the left than on the right. This helps to visually distinguish the type of information that gets put in each. This is my top choice right now for an elementary or middle school class weblog.