Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Break-Over (Classroom Makeover)

I have a confession to make: I have spring fever. For me, spring fever involves cleaning, organizing, redecorating, and hitting up garage and estate sales every weekend. And my spring fever has been coming on for weeks.

Since my house has been painted and redecorated from top to bottom (literally), when my spring fever started, the itch to re-do everything in sight meant everything in sight - in my classroom.

Several weeks ago, in the middle of uncharacteristic-for-Texas ice and snow, I started to feel the fever coming on, so I took action. (And by action, I mean, I started shopping online.) For a while I have wanted to paint my classroom tables with chalkboard paint to give my kids an easy place to "brain dump," so while I was stuck at home on snow days, I was on Pinterest (of course), looking for teachers who had done the same. I looked at chalkboard paint reviews, researched brands, compared prices, and here's what I learned:

Chalkboard paint is expensive. And comes in really small cans.

However, the avid bargain shopper in me didn't give up on my hope of chalkboard tables, and that led me to something even better than chalkboard paint: chalkboard spray paint. Rust-Oleum makes chalkboard spray paint, and Amazon sells it for just $3.97 a can (free shipping if you're a Prime member!).

I set off on the Tuesday of spring break to paint just my tables. On my way out the door, I stopped by our garage paint cabinet to grab some sandpaper, and happened to find two cans of paint (light and dark gray) leftover from our living room, which planted another little seed in my head. How nice would it be if my classroom weren't depressingly, institutionally white(ish) anymore?

I have this magic power where I can hold a can of paint and determine how many walls it will paint by the weight. (It's true; I really do.) I determined that I could paint 3 walls in light gray and one wall in dark. From there, I couldn't restrain myself...

On the right is the lighter of the two grays (I used Coastal Jetty by Valspar).

On the left is the focus wall in darker gray (Sable Evening by Valspar).

The difference is remarkable. The room feels more like a place where you would learn rather than a holding cell.



I have 7 large square tables (half a regularly sized and I removed the legs from half of them to create floor tables), a "bar," and another long thin table. It only took 4 cans of paint for me to cover them all. ($16 for chalkboard tables!)

True story: When one of my kids came in and learned the tables were chalkboards, he said, "This is the best thing that's every happened to me!" (And I'm sure he wasn't hyperbolizing either.)

Here are a couple of pictures of my seniors doing a character analysis on the tables:

Some other new features of my room include:

A new charging station! This little set-up is the absolute best. I was getting so tired of loaning out my iPad charger to my kids that I took a cardboard box, drilled holes in the bottom, and ran two iPad cords out of the bottom. The cords are plugged into an extension cord, which is also inside the box, but you could just cover an outlet completely if you don't have an extension cord.

Underneath the charging box is a paper holder I got at Michael's. Students can either sit by the charging station if they need to work on their iPads, or they can leave the iPads in the box so it doesn't pull it off the wall. And the box says "Free of Charge - puns make me smile.

Roman Shades!

These little beauties add just the right pop of color to an otherwise boring wall, and took no time and very little money ($30 for the whole shebang) to make. I followed this no-sew Roman shade tutorial. All five shades took just an hour to make, and I can't believe how beautiful they turned out.

I got these cool steel rails and hooks on Amazon, and the buckets and chalkboard labels are from Hobby Lobby. (I also just found these cute buckets on Hobby Lobby's website that already have the chalkboard built in.)

I post each class's objectives on their own edge of the whiteboard. It's magnetic, so they are easy to switch out.

I hope to inspire my readers and show them how powerful reading can be! 

Thanks for taking the tour of our classroom! If you have questions about anything, I'd love to answer them!