Saturday, June 25, 2016

Create your own Dry Erase Tables, for CHEAP!

Last summer I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and I saw a post about redesigning your classroom.  All these fantastic ideas were being shared, but frankly they all cost a lot of money, and I knew that there wasn't that kind of cash stashed away for a classroom redesign.  I also knew that, in reality, no one was going to pick the person with such a small following to allow them to "trial run" their totally awesome new -fill in the blank-. Last, I knew that I'm a do-it-now kind of person, so when an idea gets stuck in my mind, it is go time!

I wanted dry erase tables in my room.  And I did it! Here is the finished result, but I want to provide a step-by-step to making this a reality in your classroom and a couple lessons I learned along the way.

In only a couple, simply steps and only a (relatively) small amount of money, you can create these tables in your class as well.


-Old tables
-Showerboard/ tile board from a home improvement store ($12-15)
-Liquid Nail ($2/tube) You will need about 2 tubes per 3 tables.
-Caulking Gun
Optional Materials Basket Attachment:
-Cordless Drill
-$1 Plastic Bins

Step 1: Get some old tables.

I started at first with wood and begging my husband to build me tables from scratch.  He did; it was shaky; I moved on.  

Instead, I went into the deep, dark closet that every school has somewhere of "old stuff."  They were getting ready to throw out some different tables that were just plain old, and no one was using them.  They were different sizes, but that really doesn't matter for what you are doing.  Just make sure you ask your principal because what you are about to do will ruin the original table.  Just saying. 

Measure your tables and write it down before you moving to step 2.

Step 2: Get some tile/showerboard.

Head to Lowes or Home Depot and find their tile/showerboard.  It is called both things depending on where you live, but the people there will know what you are talking about.  Online, it is even called Hardboard. Essentially, it is fake dry erase board and it functions just like regular dry erase.  They run around $12-$15 per board. 

Find a helpful person there; they will be with you for awhile, so remember you get more flies with honey.  Ask the employee, ever so politely, to please cut the boards to size.  They will.  Just give them the measurements you brought with you and they will make it happen.  At least in Indiana, you do not pay extra for them to cut everything.  Even if there is a small charge, it is totally worth how easy the next few steps will be.

You will have extra from each table because you don't want to piece together a table; a solid sheet will work better.  Suggestion: Have them just cut the extra into little handheld dry erase boards.  We still used them for games and such when you want to "hide" your answer.  

Take it all to your classroom.  

Step 3: Attaching it.  

All you need is liquid nail (I recommend clear), a caulking gun, and an assistant.  We had a caulking gun at home, but our custodian also had one that he said I could use.  I just stole another teacher who was there working for a couple minutes.  

-Clean the table you are going to use and match it up with the correctly sized showerboard. 
-Flip it over and apply liquid nail all over the back side of the showerboard.  Make sure to hit the corners and the edges as those are what will peel up if anything.  To honest, it's also what kids will pull on while they are sitting there. 
- With your assistant, lift up the board, flip it on top of the table, and press down.  
-Once pressed down, add some weight on top of the table.  I used textbooks, dictionaries, small shelves, etc.
-Let it dry over night.  

-Want to get fancy?  I have to be honest, my custodian did this just to be nice one day and I LOVED it! He took a jigsaw and rounded the edges of the table so it wouldn't catch on students and to make it more difficult to pull on the corners.  

Step 4: The Materials Basket 

In reality, you are ready to go at this point, but I kept having nightmares about passing out dry erase makers, erasers, and cleaners.  Also, what if I wanted them to write on the fly? The materials needed to be readily accessible, and while I thought about just putting a bin in the center of each table, I thought about the actuality of that high schoolers would move the basket whenever and where ever they wanted.  

Get 2 screws and a dollar basket from Walmart or the dollar tree.  

-Holding up the basket, make a mark where you want each screw to go.  The idea is that the basket will just slide over the screws so the basket can be removed.  In other words, the screws will not go all the way into the table.  
-Check the sides of your table; wood sides and metal sides might need different screws.  I had both types, so I did use 2 different types of screws to make it easier to get threw the metal.  
-Bring a cordless power drill with you (or borrow your custodian's) and place the screws where you put the dots.  
-Voila! Hook the basket on the screws and fill with goodies!

I started with just dry erase markers, erasers, and cleaner, but ended up adding scissors, post-its, and other materials based on what we were doing in class.  It took that obnoxious step of distributing materials for whatever product we were working on at the time.  

Helpful Hints:

1. Invest in good dry erase spray or an all-purpose cleaner.  Train students that erasing the board also involves them cleaning it with whatever you put in your baskets. Tossing paper towels in the basket is a good idea, too.  The showerboard is not as nice of a dry erase as a true dry erase, so it won't erase as well.  However, if you actually clean it after using it, it will hold up beautifully. 
2. Encourage students to use it! It got the point where students would ask if they could just take their notes on the table.  Sure! If a student wanted to keep them, they just took a picture.  
3. I'd skip on the numbers.  I bought little numbers and package-taped them to the corners for seat numbers like I had always done on my previous desks.  The packaging tape if pulled at all liked to pull up the dry erase part in the corners.  
4. Let kids doodle.  You'd be surprised how many will actually doodle related to the topic, and it's great for those fidgety learners in your classroom.

Other Ideas with Showerboard:

1. Follow the same steps but put it on the wall or cabinet doors.  Walls, you will have to hold while it starts to dry.  Doors, I would just clamp it in a couple spots to keep it from sliding.  
2. Those home improvement stores will just cut the board into different sized dry erase boards to use.  
3. Your desk: talk about awesome to do lists!

Try it out! If you do, please share a pic of your transformed space on a budget!

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