Making Over Third Grade!: Making Over Our Library!
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Making Over Our Library!

Working at an older school often means that the furniture you have is also very old. In my case, I got lucky because my room is a built on addition to the school so I have a new (10 years old) room and student desks but the rest is well...old. This room was originally a friend's classroom (pink slips five years ago moved many of us around to different schools, classes, or grades) and I pretty much had kept the library area the way she had it, open and against the walls.  When my class was preparing to go 1:1 I got a large flat screen mounted TV and therefore had to move some things around.  I bought a small blue and white carpet from Target (actually ended up going back and getting another as they all wanted to sit on it at once) and moved the computers and a bookcase and suddenly had a "real" library area according to one of my students.  Still it was lacking in many ways.  The bookcases were old and dull, the baskets were falling apart, and there seemed to be books spilling over the space I had for them.  Two of the bookcase were a dingy white and one had been spray painted blue by its previous owners, but they were all in need of a serious overhaul.  But where to begin? It seemed so overwhelming.

Before photos:
front view sans carpet
left side of library before photo
outside view as you enter classroom before photo
Originally I wanted my dad to build me new bookcases and to add a bookcase to the open space I had made on the right side of the library. Robert and I have been buying new furniture for our home and I had intended to refurbish and bring in the old coffee table for another place in the classroom but my friend and teammate, Tracy, suggested that the coffee table be added to the library in lieu of an additional bookcase. The coffee table could be used as a charging station since there is an outlet there as well. I LOVED THAT IDEA! Our old coffee table has two shelves so that meant that the bottom could be used as a charging station and the top as a work station.  Of course fewer students would be able to work at the table with it in the library rather than in the area I had originally planned but I loved the idea of putting it in the library so that is where I began. 

Thank goodness for Pinterest! (I LOVE that site!) Between Pinterest and another friend of mine I learned all about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This is bound to become a new addiction.  I went to Patina Home and Garden, told Tami (the wonderful owner of this store) what I wanted to do and she was just as excited as I was for my new project to do over my library and table. I left her store excited, and ready to get started.

Brush in hand I boldly took on the table first, mainly because it was accessible and off I went. I first stripped the table though with chalk paint you really do not need to do this. The table was in bad enough shape that I thought it would be better if I did. Before photos:

So over the course of two days I stripped, painted (two to three coats of paint -- I wanted it very bright), and then varnished the table. Here is what it looked like after it was painted:

I used Graphite for the top and the front of the drawer and Florence for the remainder of the table. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how this table turned out. Almost don't want to take it to school but I know I will love it there as well. Additionally, I bought these great vinyl dots from Amazon that I have seen in several places on Pinterest to add to the top of the table for the kids who are working there. 

My next job was to go to school and remove all the books from the bookcases, and start painting! One of the great things, okay two of them, about this paint is that 1. you can use it indoors with little to no odor, and 2. it dries in about 20 minutes so you can complete your projects in less than a day.  So, I cranked up the volume (using the sound system in my classroom hooked up to my phone) and got to work on those bookcases. I painted the back of the shelves Florence and the remainder of the bookcases Graphite.  One of them I outlined in Florence as well but I have decided that when I go back in I will paint over that in Graphite as well. (Another great thing about this paint - you can paint right over it!)

Here they are as I left them after painting and varnishing them. (Forgive the piles of books that are in some of the photos.) What do you think?
I still need to paint over the trim on this bookcase so that it is all black and matches the other two.

As my dollar store plastic bins were not going to last another month, let alone another year, (they did survive 8 years so that isn't bad) it was time to buy new baskets as well! I went to all four of the dollar stores/99 cent stores in my area and alas, they had nothing that was durable or that was in the color/quantity that I was going to need. What to do, what to do? I was just about to suck it up and pay for the expensive book bins from Really Good Stuff though they were a little too large for my bookcases when I found a new blog I just love and the solution to my problem! Over at Ms. Fultz's Corner I found the answer to my problem. You see Ms. Fultz had the same exact book bin issue in July of 2013 and she found these really great book bins from Steps to Literacy they were nearly identical, and half the price! Score! The best part for me? They had a great bright blue that I wanted and I was able to buy them in sets of 20 without buying any other colors. So off to Steps to Literacy I went and purchased 40 of the bins! Can't wait to see them on the bookcase shelves full of books!

Now Ms. Fultz is a very creative teacher, and the book bins were not the only idea I stole from her. She mentioned that she had purchased chalk labels and markers for her bins and I thought "a-ha!" that is a great idea so I did the same! I purchased both the chalk labels and the chalk markers at Michael's, using a 40% off coupon and getting my educator discount of 15% off (everyday!) I was able to walk out of the store paying about $10. Not bad! You can check out her wonderful page about her library here.

 Here is a photo of the finished bins with labels:
Did you notice how I have learned how to add my blog button via Google Drawing to the images? 

In completing this library with the new bins I discovered that one book case is a little larger than the other two. This allowed me to place 6 bins on a shelf rather than five as on the others.
The books in these boxes belong to the school so I didn't really want to buy bins for them as they may not stay in my care. Additionally, the blue and purple boxes were just purchased two years ago. I decided to just replace the ratty old boxes on the bottom shelf with the new bins. I have three more coming in the mail soon in order to complete this shelf.
In the background you can see the coffee table with the dry erase dots. I need to add the clip art to the book hospital (on the right) so that it is an "emergency" bin. 

Finally, I was able to go back to school, put the books in their new bins and label them according to their AR level (not really my choice, we have to have a leveled library), bring the table to school, and put down the freshly washed carpets. Here is the final look at the bookcases and part of the day table. (For some reason I always forget to take the photo of the finished table in the classroom but have finally added it -- see the photos at the bottom of this post.)

Now I just have to wait for the bright chevron toss pillow covers I bought from Amazon for the kids to sit on when working at the table in the library have FINALLY come in and it is perfect! What do you think?

I LOVE it and the kids do too! Let me know what you think!