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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tried It Tuesday {book bins and painted bookcases}

Happy Tuesday!!  It is Welcome Back to School for me.  Of course, I am writing this on Monday night at 11 p.m. and am still wide awake.  Trying to switch back to a normal bedtime always makes for a great week back.  We have Open House on Wednesday night but at least we only have students on Thursday and Friday.
Since, we aren't officially back yet, I racked my brain thinking about what I could show you that I've "tried" this week.  I finally decided to share with you how I tried transforming my classroom library!

My Tried It:
Book Bins and Painting Bookcases
When I taught 6th grade, I was teaching social studies for a few years and then math for five.  Having a large classroom library was not a top priority.  Then, five years ago I switched to fourth grade and slowly started collecting books through yard sales, ebay, and donations.  My library has grown every year and this summer I decided that I really wanted to transform it by organizing my books in bins.

There are so many amazing classroom libraries all over the internet.  I have drooled over them, especially this library from Beth Newingham's Scholastic blog post from way back in 2009!  I just love those bookcases and baskets.  The bookcases line up so neatly and you can tell they are great quality.

In addition to not having as many books as I would like, one of my other problems is that I don't have  amazing sturdy bookcases that line up nice and neat in my room.  
Last summer I bought a cheap bookcase for more storage from WalMart ($15) and it broke by the end of the year.
This summer, I found two bookcases at local yard sales and they were both very sturdy.  One was $5 and the other was $7.  However, they were different colors and mismatched, so I knew I would have to paint them.  I decided to go with black because I found some bright bins at the Dollar Tree (for $1 each of course) that would just "pop" against the black.
I got to work priming the bookcases.

These mini foam rollers really do a nice job making the work a little easier.
Next, I used an acrylic black gloss paint.

Then, I went to work in my room painting two other bookcases.  A friend gave me the tall bookcase.  This one is not as sturdy as the other three but it makes a good corner piece.  The other bookcase is school grade quality and super sturdy.
There was one shelf that was not removable in the tall bookcase.  The others were removed and painted on a flat surface using the same foam mini roller.
I am not even sure how many hours I spent painting these four bookcases, but it was many!  Each bookcase took THREE coats of the black paint!  Painting the little nooks and crannies in the "ABCD" bookcase was a complete pain too.  However, they looked awesome when I was done.  So, you can just imagine how disappointed I was when I placed these book bins on the shelves and they scratched the paint and were like sticking to the paint!  The original two bookcases had been drying for like a month and the other two were only drying for two days.  But still!!!  What was I going to do?

My first solution was to spray this Mod Podge adhesive on the shelves to "protect" them from scratches.
It covered the shelves okay but I couldn't spray many coats because it was the stinkiest, toxic stuff on the planet and unless I wanted to haul all the bookcases outside, I wasn't going to be spraying that anymore!  Next, I tried my trusty varnish from my mod podge projects.  I brushed it on the top of each shelf with a foam disposable brush.
I let it dry a few days, went back to school and loaded the bins back on the shelves.  

The varnish has seemed to work and the bins don't "stick" anymore.  I am nervous about how it will hold up to student usage though.  Those fourth graders can sure be tough on furniture and I will have all fifty 4th graders using my library this year since we are departmentalizing.

I already LOVE that the library is organized in bins now.  We are going to do some genre activities at the beginning of the year and explore using our classroom library.  I will have the students help place sticker labels inside each book that names the bin they belong in.  Each group would only have to place stickers in the books of one or two bins and that job will be done. :)  My books already had color coded labels on the binding (sealed with shipping tape) according to their AR (Accelerated Reading) level.
Have you tried painting bookcases?  How did they hold up to the wear and tear?  I would be grateful if you have any tips for me because I might be repainting/sealing next summer!


  1. I love your bookcases (I know I told you this before,) but I really do love the black. I'll be interested to see how the varnish holds after a year of use. I may try it out next year if you have success with it.

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

  2. Your book cases, bins and labels look fantastic. I have made the mistake of painting a dresser (to hold Barbies!) with regular paint and no top coat of anything - it lasted minutes. Now I always use the paint specifically for furntiure, cupboards etc. Have a great first week back - we start with students today!

  3. Your library looks fantastic! I may have to start over on bins for mine. I did the Dollar Store ones too, but I need more, and they don't have the same colors now :( Have a great week!
    Chalk & Apples

  4. I'm so glad you posted about this and shared the link to Beth Newingham's library as well! Your book cases look awesome with the bright baskets. I need to do this with my classroom library and can't decide if I want to tackle the headache right now or wait until next summer. You have inspired me though, so I will probably start looking for baskets :)

    Crofts' Classroom

  5. That looks great! Love the black paint! It's amazing what just a little bit of paint and bright colors can do to transform the look of something - and make you feel better too :) Thanks for sharing your inspiration and final product!

    Have a great week,
    My Shoe String Life
    Follow Me on Bloglovin'

  6. Your bookcases look awesome! I love finding a bargain like that:) Your classroom looks super cute too! Can't believe you are just starting:) We just started week 5!!!! Yikes! Have a great rest of your week:)

    4th Grade Frolics

  7. I tried to paint my bookcases last year, and the paint chipped off within the first week of school. I did not sand off the old paint or cover the new paint with anything. Hopefully, your bookshelf paint will hold up a little better than mine!!

  8. Your book cases look amazing, Holly! You are so clever!!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  9. Wow!!! That is one amazing transformation. Your books cases really pop now!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  10. Holly, you should be proud of your hard work! Your reading area looks amazing! Of course, I LOVE the black...what a difference it makes! Your tree looks cute too!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  11. I have painted all of my bookcases in my room with black spray paint. I do it outside though. The one I have like yours, the ABCD one, has had black paint on it for about 8 years. I just love using black in my room to make everything else pop! Maybe you will only have to do a few touch-ups over the summer.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  12. I realllllly LOVE the black bookcases with the pop of color! They look great! :)

  13. I hear ya on the sturdy bookcases! Those Wal-Mart ones do not last. Glad you found some good ones. I love how the bright colors look with the black.

    Simply Sixth Grade

  14. I love the look of your bookcases. I'm hoping to spice up my classroom library, and you've given me some inspiration!

    Hope they hold up well.

    Learning in the Little Apple

  15. Your bookcases look great! I love the bright baskets with the black bookcases.

    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  16. Bookcases are great. Love the coordinating bins. It sucks though that you have to buy your own. I think we need to petition the gov't for a bigger tax break!

    Ms. Chae Charges In

  17. The bookcases look awesome and I totally commend you for having the patience to do that! I painted furniture when I was pregnant with my first child (9+years ago) and I have not painted anything since. I do NOT have that kind of patience (or time) to do it right and cutting corners is not a good idea with painting! These turned out great and I think black was a great color!! One day, if I ever decide to paint furniture, I'll get your advice!!

    I hope you are having a good two days back with kids!
    Collaboration Cuties