I was lucky enough to have a nice long visit with my sister Kelley recently. I love when she comes to visit since she always seems to take a look around when she gets here, and figures out what I need help with most and tackles it. She love organizing, and with a big move this summer that left my home a little disheveled, when she said she wanted to set up a better place for Austin’s school stuff- I was all for it. I thought some of you may be interested in what she came up with in case you are struggling with the same problem, so here’s a guest post from my big sis…..
Keeping yourself and your children organized can be an overwhelming task. When my boys were in elementary school, I created a zone just for school stuff. Not only to make it easier for me but also to help my boys be more independent. If they needed looseleaf, they didn’t have to keeping coming to me, asking, “Mom, where’s the looseleaf?” Same for pencils, notebooks, construction paper, school calendar, pencil sharpener….you get the idea.
Instead, I would simply tell them, “Check the school zone” and they would find it themselves. Everyday thereafter, they would just get what they need, sit down and start their homework. I think most moms would agree with me that the kitchen seems to always be the spot for homework, sharing the news of the day, serving snack and more. My school zone consisted of a bookcase, a big magnet board and a “brag bar”. What’s a brag bar? Well, its my nickname for a handy dandy place to hang up report cards, school forms, graded homework, even your child’s paintings or drawings.
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My sister knows I’m an organizing nut so she welcomed the idea when I suggested creating a school zone for Austin. We found the perfect place and she gave me free reign to get to work ;-). I will also share with you how to make your own brag bar.
I wanted Austin to be involved in this project so I took him with me to get supplies. The brag bar is simply made from a yardstick, clothespins and a few painted wooden cutouts. I let Austin choose a theme for his brag bar to get him involved. He decided on a “Florida” theme and helped me pick out the wooden cutouts. You can choose to paint your own if your children are up to the task. It really depends on your children’s ages and how much patience you have ;-). For glue, I like Tacky Glue, it’s easy to use, dries clear and is less toxic than super glue.
Its important to decide how you’re going to hang your brag bar before you get started. I decided to attach mine directly to the bulletin board but you can screw yours to the wall below the bulletin board, on the book shelf or anywhere; it’s up to you. I drilled 2 holes at each end of the yardstick about 1/2 an inch in from the edge. I also put a couple adhesive velcro strips in the center to keep it from bowing. I like the Command strips with the velcro teeth that snap together, I think they last longer and hold up better then adhesive strips.
Now you’re ready to glue on your clothespins and wood cutouts. Find a flat surface to work on where you can leave it to dry for awhile. I only used 4 clothespins so I could space my papers out but you could squeeze in a couple more if you want. I set size D batteries on top of the clothespins for added weight while the glue dried. Then I added some larger wood cutouts between the clothespins. Keep it fun and colorful! Once the glue has dried under your clothespins, you can glue on the smaller wood cutouts. Watch where you place them, being careful not to cover the hinge on the clothespins. I also set them down about an inch or so from the top. This way, you can push on the clothespin without interference. Again, you can rest the batteries on top to help the drying process and ensure a solid fit.
When everything is all dry, you can hang your brag bar. Be sure it is securely fastened to the wall. This way your children can hang their papers up themselves and there are no worries of anything breaking or falling down! I strongly believe that when we display our children’s accomplishments, we are telling them how important they are and how much we care about the hard work they do at school.
As my children got older, I was hanging SAT scores and the latest form to fill out and get in by a certain deadline for college. My brag bar is still hanging in my house and my youngest is now a junior in high school!
As for Austin, we added a bookcase underneath with bins for larger supplies and spelling flash cards. Next, we set up little drawers for pencils, crayons and more. There is also a place for books for the nightly reading assignment or library books that must be returned. Austin has a little calendar on top that helps him keep track of what day it is and a couple baskets for misc clutter. And last but not least, the bulletin board gives additional space for Austin’s drawings, his reading calendar, notes from the teacher, and more.
A place for everything, and everything in its place! I hope you enjoyed this post and it helps you tackle your own school zone if you are struggling with the clutter too!