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Classroom DIY: Crate Seats

Summer is not over yet! There’s still time to complete some of the DIY projects on your to-do list. For me, these crates have been on my list for quite some time because 1. they’re adorable 2. they’re comfy and 3. they provide hidden storage!

Classroom DIY: Crate Seats

My dad always jokes each summer and asks what DIY project we’re doing. He is the handy one in my family so he gets pulled into everything DIY. He was very happy to hear that these crates were my focus this summer. (A one day project.) Last summer, we made cubbies for my classroom and they took three weeks to put together and install. On top of that project, I got married; so, as you can imagine we were very busy!

This project is very easy (if you or someone you know is good at cutting wood) and will only take you a couple hours to complete.

How to make your own DIY crate seats:

Classroom DIY: Crate Seats

1. Buy all materials.

  • Crates: I bought the crates at Target for $2.99. I chose blue because it goes with my theme but Target has many colors. (If you don’t find a color you like, buy the white and spray paint it!)
  • Wood: My dad bought particleboard from Home Depot. He bought a half sheet, 3/4 inch thick. A half sheet was enough for the 5 seats I made. (After I finished the project, I decided that I want to make 5 more for my assistant teacher’s guided reading table and I’ll need to buy more wood.)
  • Foam: I got 2 in thick foam from Joannes. One sheet was enough for 5 seats.
  • Fabric: At first, I was going to get just regular fabric, but my mom (yay mom!) found and suggested outdoor fabric. This fabric is more durable and will hopefully be easier to clean. I bought 4 yards of fabric and have enough to make 10 seats.
  • Extras: You’ll need something to cut the wood (my dad used a hand saw), a staple gun (with staples), screw gun (with screws), and scissors.

Classroom DIY: Crate Seats

2. Put it all together.

  1. Measure the top of the crate as well as inside lip of crate and cut wood to fit. (Each seat is made with two pieces of wood.) The foam and fabric go on the larger piece and the smaller piece goes on the bottom to fit into the crate.
  2. Cut your foam and fabric. Warning: the foam is VERY difficult to cut. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, because the fabric covers it. Make sure you leave about 3 inches of extra fabric on all sides.
  3. Take larger piece of wood and put the foam on top. Next, cover the foam and wood with the fabric. When you’re wrapping the fabric, make sure you pull tight. (It’s a good idea to have two people help with this job – thanks mom!) I wrapped my seats like I would a present, that way they are all consistent.
  4. After you’ve stapled the fabric to the foam and wood, you’ve finished the top part of your seat! Next, take the smaller piece of wood and center it on the bottom of the seat and screw it in so it’s tight.
  5. Put it on your crate and take a seat!

Classroom DIY: Crate Seats

I made these crate seats to put around my guided reading table. I love how they look and they are the perfect size. If your table is not the right size, check and see if the legs are adjustable. The best part about these crates is the extra storage. I use the storage to hold all my guided reading books. This frees up some space in my classroom that I can use for something else. This was the perfect summer DIY project and I am so happy with how they turned out!

Check out my other classroom DIY projects here. Happy DIYing!

Classroom DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

Guided reading is one of my favorite times of the day as I get to work with a small group of students. During this time, I focus on their strengths or weaknesses to continue to help them grow in their reading development.

I’m lucky to have a full-time assistant teacher who also works with a small group during our guided reading time. There have been many times where my assistant or I sit down with our groups and then realize we don’t have certain materials we need in order for our small group lessons. That is why I created Guided Reading Caddies! In our caddies, we have everything we could ever need during our reading lesson.

What’s in my guided reading caddie?

DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

 1. Hole Punch 

– To begin our guided reading lesson, I start off with sight words that students are working on. If it is our first meeting for the week, I introduce these sight words. (Students also get their sight words in their homework so most likely they’ve seen them prior to our group meeting). Students have sight word flash cards that they cut out during word work. I use these flash cards to test if they know the word. If they do know it, the student hole punches the card and puts it on a binder ring. This ring holds all the sight words they know and as the year goes on, they get verrrry full. I recommend getting large binder rings like these. If the student does not know the sight word, it goes back into a ziplock in their book bag. Since I start with sight words each guided reading lesson, the sight word is continually shown and eventually the student gets to put their card on their ring.

2. Mini Whiteboards/Expo Pens/Expo Erasers

– Sometimes during a guided reading lesson, I need to write something down so these materials come in handy. For example, during a reading lesson, a student might be having a hard time sounding out a word. In this case, I grab my mini whiteboard, expo pen and eraser so I can help them by breaking the word apart on my whiteboard. — I also have the students use these boards sometimes. During the lesson, I might say the sounds slowly while they write the letters down and then read the word back to me. There’s a million possibilities of what you can do during a guided reading lesson with mini whiteboards, expo pens and expo erasers!

3. Magnets 

– I like to keep alphabet magnets in my caddie as an optional warm up activity before we start reading. Students can practice making their sight words with the magnets or I can say sounds while they put the word together. Again, many possibilities and always a good idea to have them just in case!

DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

4. Guided Reading Strategy Cards

– Before we dive into reading, I like to introduce or reinforce a reading strategy. I introduce these one at a time until students know and use them all. I keep the cards in my caddy and pull the one we are working on during that lesson. Students also have a reading strategy bookmark in their book bags to refer to. Get this freebie here!

5. Stickers to End the Lesson

– And, what is a kindergarten guided reading lesson without a sticker at the end to celebrate all our hard work!? On the first day we do guided reading groups, students get to pick a colored construction paper and we fold it in half (nothing fancy). These “books” are where they keep their stickers throughout the year. Students love filling up these sticker books and taking them home at the end of the year.

6. Guided Reading Binder 

– This item doesn’t exactly fit inside my caddie but it is probably the most important because it holds all my guided reading lessons! In my binder, I have my literacy center schedule of what group goes where on what day, my individual group guided reading lessons, student sight word progress data forms and student reading assessments. Find all these resources here.

How to Make Your Own Guided Reading Caddie

1. Pick any Storage Box – I chose mine from the dollar store but you can get them from Target, Walmart, the Container Store.. etc.

2. Jazz It Up – I recently bought myself a Cricut and I’ve been having a blast playing around with it so I used my Cricut to cut out vinyl and fancied my storage box that way. If you have a Cricut like me, it is super easy to just use Design Space, pick your favorite font and cut your vinyl. If you do not have a Cricut, you can jazz your caddie up with a laminated label! Find some freebie labels here.

DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

What do you put in your guided reading caddie?

Summer DIY Projects for your Classroom

I don’t know about you, but during the summer I love finding new DIY projects and ways to better my classroom or organization for the next school year. As the summer nears, my to do list grows and grows as I find tons of amazing ideas through Pinterest and Instagram.

Last year, my dad and I made cubbies for my students. This was a HUGE project and on top of that, I got married, so needless to say, I was busy and was only able to complete one DIY job last summer.

This summer, I’ve already started creating what I view as very valuable DIY projects for my classroom. I’ve put together a list of DIY projects that I’ve seen come up over and over again on Pinterest and Instagram so you can also create these awesome tools and resources! 

Organization

  1. The Teacher Toolbox – This project was at the top of my list to complete this summer. It is a great way to keep all your teacher supplies organized which makes teacher hearts very happy. I originally found this idea here but it is ALL over Pinterest and Instagram. I even created jungle theme labels to go along with my classroom theme. Find those along with the rest of my jungle decor bundle here.
  2. Seat Crate – These seat crates are going to add so much storage to my classroom. My plan is to use these around my guided reading table and I’ll use the storage for my guided reading books. This awesome tutorial breaks down exactly what you need and will be so useful when making my own seat crates.
  3. Anchor Chart Storage – This is such a smart way to organize your anchor charts! I find that over the years, my anchor charts get so wrinkled because I don’t have a storage system. This DIY project uses PVC pipes and hangers to store your anchor charts. Find out how to make this easy storage system here.

Classroom Management

  1. Bucket filler – I love using bucket fillers in my classroom because of the kind and caring community they create. Read about the way I store my bucket fillers from this blog post here. (Tip – I use a hanging shoe organizer!)
  2. Pencil Equity Sticks – This DIY project is a great way to give your equity sticks a makeover. I love using sticks in the classroom because it’s a great way to make sure you’re calling on all students and not just the ones who raise their hand all the time. Get inspiration here for your new upscale equity sticks.

Decoration

  1. Library letters – This tutorial shows you how to use old book pages to decorate letters for your classroom library (and other ways to decorate letters). I cannot wait to make these for my library!
  2. “Today is” on Whiteboard – I just purchased a cricut machine this summer and I cannot wait to use it for everything decoration in my classroom, starting with this “Today is” inspiration for my whiteboard.
  3. Printing Big Posters – Ever wish you could print something to be bigger than just an 8.5 by 11? This tutorial is AMAZING and shows you exactly how easy it is to make your poster dreams come true! Such a great tip when creating your classroom environment. 

Free Play

  1. Felt Board – Turn an old cork board into a felt board that your students can play and create stories with! This 15 minute project is a great addition to your free play choices!
  2. Toy Stove – Is your kitchen the most popular toy to play with in your classroom? Mine is and often ends with students fighting over who gets to play in it. This tutorial shows you how to turn a plastic container into a stove. What makes this even better is the container serves as storage for your toy food!
  3. Sidewalk Foam Paint – This fun outdoor activity is so easy to make and has a ton of possibilities! It is an upscale version of chalk. This could be a great reward or outdoor free play activity. Find out how to make this sidewalk foam paint here. (Tip – it can also be used on paper!)

 

What’s on your summer DIY to do list?

Classroom DIY – Bucket Fillers

Do you use bucket fillers in your classroom? The bucket filler system comes from the books How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer and Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and David Messing. These books reinforce kind behavior and thinking of other people’s feelings.

Bucket Filling in the Classroom

I use the bucket filling system in my kindergarten classroom from the first day they walk into my room. We read one of these books on the first day of school and I show students where their bucket is. (I use these buckets that I purchased off amazon.) Students each have their own bucket and practice writing a bucket filler to one of their new friends. Because I have really young kiddos, I print their picture next to their name and leave these cards in a pocket chart near the buckets, so students can grab their friends picture and know how to write their name. As the year goes on, students remember how to spell their friends names and don’t use these as much.

Students have the option to do bucket fillers once they’re finished with an assignment or during free play time. In the beginning of the year, I only put out the bucket filler slips that have no lines so students can draw pictures for their friends. Once students can write, I slowly incorporate the slips with lines and space for pictures and the slips with only lines. Students then have the option of what slip they would like to use. Find these slips on my TpT store for free!

While I’m setting this system up in my classroom, I like to tell students that it is nice to fill people’s buckets who aren’t your best friend. I promote that we are a kindergarten family and that we are all good friends and can all fill everyone’s buckets. This way, all students get bucket fillers and not only a select few.

I try to send these slips home every couple of weeks in their Friday Folders or when I notice the buckets are getting very full.

Setting up Your Bucket Filler Station

I set my buckets up in over the door shoe organizers. This one from amazon fits the buckets perfectly! It can hold 24 buckets but depending on the age and height of your class, you may want to cut it in half so the students at the top of the organizer can be reached as well. When I did this with my class, I only had 15 students so I put all the buckets toward the bottom and hung the organizer on one of my storage closets but this year I have 18 students so my plan is to cut the shoe organizer in half and find a new spot where all student’s buckets can be reached.
On the first day, I have students color a picture of a bucket that I found on TpT in another freebie. Students get to decorate what they’d like their bucket to look like for the year. TIP: I recommend either laminating these before slipping them in to the organizer or taping them directly on the bucket. When I put these buckets on regular paper, they got crumpled and beat up throughout the year.

Last, I put the pocket chart with student’s picture and name cards next to the bucket organizer so they are easily accessible when students are choosing a friend to write a bucket filler to. I also put the bucket filler slips in one of the chart pockets or in an extra bucket for them to grab.
Classroom DIY - Bucket Fillers Station: How to set up a bucket filling system in your classroom.
My students really enjoy this system as it is a way to both make others feel good and also they feel good when they get their bucket filled. How do you use bucket fillers in your room?