Sunday, July 6, 2014

DIY: Make a Cool Book Setting Sign for Your Classroom

I have been inspired by signs like this for several years and vowed to have one in my classroom.

Finally, I made my own... and one that would work with the beach theme in my classroom. Want to know how?

First, I set out to brainstorm the locations I wanted on my sign. I scoured Pinterest and then Googled until I could Google no more. I also sought out the help of my friends through Facebook. And when I got stuck, I thought of my and my students' favorite books, and if they were set in identifiable places.

Next, I went about trying to figure out what materials to use. To go with my beach theme, a pole was pretty easy. I immediately thought of bamboo, which was easy to find in the gardening section at Lowe's. But what would the signs be made of? My inspiration pictures, and actual signs like this, are made from driftwood or broken pieces of wood. That's not so easy to find, at least where I live. Finally, after walking around Lowe's for a while, I came upon shims. If you don't know (and I didn't), shims are pieces of tapered wood that carpenters use to fill in gaps or make pieces level. Anyway, they were cheap, so I thought I would try to work with them. But, I hated that they were just a light wood color. I wanted them to look weathered... like driftwood. I thought, it's wood, so why not stain? And lo and behold, there is a stain that is driftwood colored! I was all set. All the materials cost me less than $20.

My first step of actually making the sign was to stain the shims. This was a very quick and easy process. I just rubbed the stain on both sides with a cloth. Just make sure to work in a ventilated area. It took them a couple of hours to dry.

Next, I gathered up some colors of acrylic paints I just had, but you could use any sort of thick, colored paint. I would not imagine watercolors would at all. I got my children to help me paint, choosing a variety of colors and printing styles so that they looked mismatched. They took an hour or so to dry.

Finally, I nailed them to the bamboo using small finishing nails. I made sure to mount them all caddywampus (one of my favorite words) to make it look more like the inspiration. Just a word to the wise: if you do use bamboo, it is VERY difficult to nail into. That was the hardest part of the process for me. But, TA DA!!!!! I now have a totally cute sign to put in my classroom. My hope is that the students ask about settings they don't know, and that might lead them to other books to love.

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