Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Back to Works for Me Wednesdays, which, sadly, will not be about Dr. Seuss.  Try as I might I just couldn't figure a way to work him in.  I was really going for a full week of Seuss, good and bad, if you hadn't noticed.  Also, quick note: it's a leap year!  We get a free day.  How cool is that?  Anyway, onward ho!

In my extremely small kitchen there is no room for just about anything (including cooking, at times).  Last week, when I wanted to participate in the Stations of the Cross project, I had to use the small space between the burners on the stove as my work station.  Safe, right?  I'm sure anyone still reading this knows that this kitchen is the current bane of my existence (that, and Zumba, with whom I am developing a love/hate relationship at the moment).  There's one wall on which to hang anything I may need to hang.  In a basic kitchen that serves only as a place to prepare and possibly eat food this isn't a real problem.  In a kitchen that is also a classroom, it kinda totally sucks.  One of my solutions for working with this one wall is to make the display space, what little there is, as changeable as possible.  And so, I give you: The Magnetic Strip!

I don't front.  This is what my strips looked like
when I decided to start taking pictures.
These strips come in varying lengths and widths, but for my purposes, I chose the 1/2" by 24" size, in white, so as to not be jarring against the cream colored walls of our kitchen and therefore be just a background on which we can hang our "stuff".  Trust me, if you think there's a lot of "stuff" from regular school, try actually living in the school room, 24/7/365.  "Stuff" abounds in the house of a homeschooler.

Each strip comes with essentially super-strong double sided mounting tape, which I hope won't destroy the paint when I remove them.  Even if they do though, I think paint might be easier to fix than holes left after removing screws.  It comes with about eight magnets and, while they do the job, they are the one thing I complain about.  They are literally just the magnets: small metal disks, with nothing to prevent anyone, like an adventurous 18 month old who climbs onto the kitchen table the moment her mother's back is turned, from swallowing one (this hasn't happened yet, thank God, but I really need to switch out those magnets soon).

This is what it is supposed to look like most days.
Neat and orderly with schoolwork and projects
hanging, well, neatly.
Some Dr. Seuss independent activities
Note the ridiculously small magnet.

We have two of them hanging below the posters and above the table, so this gives us 48" of hanging space.  At the moment, I try to keep the boys' work on separate strips, but that won't work in the Fall (because I'll have three students).  I tend to use them for just the basics.  Once a math assessment or spelling test is done, up it goes on the strip with all the fanfare it is deserving (after getting a sticker of course) and remains there for a respectable amount of time (until, say the next test is ready).  If there's a back side to a page that is to be completed at a later date or time, it goes up on the strip to keep it in my line of sight.  I tend to forget things like papers when they go away into folders, even if it's supposed to be temporary, so this helps me remember silly things, like math worksheets.

Makes a nice place to hang Valentine's
While we generally use them for a basic bulletin board of sorts, there are many different uses I can think of for a classroom setting, let alone for use in an actual kitchen (read: not a classroom).  On birthdays, we hang up pictures of the birthday child.  On holidays, you could hang up all the fun homemade decorations that really don't fit anywhere else but can't be thrown out (just yet).  There's also the possibility of using it as a "Do Now" activity station, where you simply hang a couple of different worksheets (I use this term loosely) across the strip and let the child choose which one to do while you finish your coffee prepare your supplies.
Dr. Seuss independent activities
If you're not a homeschooler, these are still a great way to display your child's artwork or your own photos and even to use near a desk for holding papers you can't afford to lose on the mass of slips that is your desk (it's not just me, right?).  The possibilities are practically limitless.  That's why these magnetic bulletin strips work for me.

So now I want to know: do you have any clever space saving display ideas?

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