Getting ready for school to start.

It seems way, waaay too early to be thinking of school starting back up, but the truth is, once the 4th of July passes, the rest of summer just flies by. Since I have a big to-do list outside of school in the next few weeks, I figured it was time to get my projects at school done.

My first, and quickest project of the summer was to update the electrical conduit post on my desk. Five years ago when I started at the school I decided to add something whimsical that was really fun.

I used foam core painted using the Elmer’s Glue crackle technique to look like old painted wood. I borrowed a friend’s Cricut to do the words and attached them to the post with magnets.

This year I realized that I was ready to do something new with the post. I’ve added a lot of bright primary colors to the library over the years and this was too blah for my color scheme. I took inspiration from my table decorations and decided to make a giant truffula tree.

The ones on the tables have been changed slightly, but they still look similar and I love how it came out. Those are plastic leis that I found at the dollar store, zip tied in bundles to the post. Then I cut each loop and they spiral apart all on their own.

Next up was a new bulletin board. I love doing bulletin boards, but I try to make them into art pieces because I want them to last more than a few months.

I decided on the fun theme of 20,000 Reads Under the Sea.

I wanted to show the progression of this board so I took pictures as I worked. To create the background, I bought an ocean waves plastic tablecloth. The edges are a self adhesive border that I cut into “scales”. I stapled them even though they are supposed to stick on their own. The humidity makes everything peel off my walls so no reason to think dollar store border would be any different.

I like the depth that cardboard canopies give to boards but I’m too cheap to buy one. Instead, I took three of the big flat boxes that laminate flooring come in and glued them together to create a large canopy. Attaching the canopy to the wall wasn’t easy. At all. I ended up using a line of hot glue on the wall behind it. Then as extra support, the net hangs from command hooks (reinforced with hot glue), and it holds up multiple points on the outer edge of the canopy.

The seaweed was an easy and cheap part of the project. I bought two green plastic tablecloths, and cut them into long strips — leaving about 6 inches uncut on one end. Each strip then gets irregular diagonal cuts up and down its length. They don’t need to be perfect at all.

I used the overhead projector to trace out a mermaid I found online. I used regular white drawing paper so I could use markers and watercolors on it.

Her tail is colored with permanent markers, then I added a shadow below each one with a dark gold sharpie and highlighted each one with a silver gel pen. Her skin is watercolor and her hair is both marker and watercolor.

The coral reef was created with pool noodles, bulletin board paper, tissue paper and pipe cleaners. I even cut egg cartons to look like barnacles! The finishing touches are the cool fish I got on Amazon and sea shells from the thrift store glued into the upper layer of the reef.

I’m proud of this. It looks very organic and that’s what I wanted. I really love creating art and this will blow the kids away. If you would like to find the pins that helped me create this project, here is the Pinterest board I created for this theme.


Book Cart Facelift

My library cannot function without book carts. I have a bright yellow half-size one that I use to put books away and a bunch of icky beige ones I sort books on for student browsing until I get them shelved. They are divided by age ranges, one being specifically for kindergarten and 1st grade students. They are not allowed to take chapter books or higher level nonfiction from the other cart.I have too many kindergarten and 1st graders trying to grab off the wrong cart. If only my carts were different colors!

I wanted to share my inexpensive idea to fix up my blah, beat-up beige book carts – I am a master of alliteration!

As you can see, the carts have seen better days. My friend the maintenance man and I discussed painting them, but it would quite expensive to do. He figured they would need to be powder-coated to truly have a durable finish.

And of course, I complicate things by wanting multiple colors. (There is entirely too much dark blue in my library!) My brainstorming led me to order colored contact paper. It’s not very expensive, comes in a lot of colors and it looks good. My only issues with the contact paper, having applied it today, are that it can crease if you aren’t careful, and I’m not sure how well it will hold up to my students, books and bookends.

I do think I achieved my goal. It will be very easy for students to identify which cart they are allowed to browse, and it added some fun pops of color to the library.