Building bookshelves for the preschool classroom

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on July 27, 2011

in Bookshelves, DIY

I still needed child-sized bookshelves for my classroom but not any more. Over the weekend my husband built me three of them…

I gave him the measurements that I needed based on how many baskets I hoped to fit in each shelf as well as measuring the height of my tables.  I didn’t want the shelves so tall that I couldn’t see the children behind the shelves as they played but not so short that it felt like a toddler room.  I also have limited space in my classroom so I didn’t want the shelves too terribly wide.  In the end the bookshelves measured at 3′ wide x 2′ 1/4″  tall. They can hold 8 baskets or 16 stackable shoe-sized baskets.

I went with my husband to get the wood and what you see above is all that he needed to build all three. I think there is wood left over too but I haven’t went back over to see for sure…

It was interesting watching my husband build these shelves for me. It had me thinking of how I should be introducing the building process to young children.  I realized that if I am going to provide blocks for construction play, then I should also be providing a variety of tools.  A measuring tape is definitely something my husband always uses and it is no big deal to keep measuring tools near the block area at all times…

Another tool that he uses a lot is a clamp to hold the wood in place as he saws or adds wood glue….

He also uses a pencil to mark lines on the wood and a square to line up the lines so to create nice straight edges…

And then he uses things like a power saw, power drill, and even a nail gun…

I also realized that I should be watching people more closely as they work. Just by watching the building process I gained a better perspective of what tools a carpenter uses and how the tools are used. This has helped me think about new ways to explore the block center, construction, and carpentry in the classroom…

After the shelves were all built, we sanded them (using sanding sponges) and then painted them…

I painted them white but I wanted to try something new so I painted the sides and back side of each shelf with magnetic paint. I had never used magnetic paint before so I am not sure I did it exactly right. Did you know that magnetic paint is black and very thick? It reminds me of tar just a bit.  I had to stir, stir, stir to get it all mixed up right then I painted it on the shelves pretty thick.  I probably should have added more than one coat of magnetic paint but I just used one…

After the coat of magnetic paint dried, I painted over it with white paint.  The magnetic paint is actually considered a primer – not a finish paint. You are supposed to paint over it with a color of your choice…

I couldn’t wait to start setting up the shelves in the classroom. These two shelves are back to back in the middle of the room right now but I will probably rearrange 20 times before school starts…

I tried the magnetic letters and the wooden ones with the flat magnetic side worked very well on the shelves. The plastic letter magnets didn’t work at all.  The stronger the magnet, the better….

My small magnetic pompoms worked very well too but my bigger magnetic pompoms were too heavy and fell off.  I will keep playing with it to see what works…

Read: Early Learning with Magnets to see some ideas that I hope to use with my magnetic boards and shelves…

Also read: Exploring Measuring tools!

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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