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An insider's secret to great bulletin boards

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Dona Helmer

Beautiful bulletin boardsI work in a room with five (you read that correctly, 5) huge bulletin boards.  Every year I used to dread covering them with that cheap colored paper that comes on big rolls.

I used to have to get a ladder and a reliable stapler to try and hang the paper. I usually managed to tear the paper once or twice in the process.  One year, I was so desperate that I tried just covering the space with posters—it looked tacky.  What can I say?  If I were a decorator I would be on HGTV.

A couple of years ago we got a new teacher and when I walked into her room I was amazed!  Her boards were beautiful.  There were no tears in the paper.  I was jealous and thought we could never be friends. When she wasn’t looking I took a closer look and I was surprised to see that she had painted her boards. 

So I decided to try her way, and let me tell you what a difference that has made in my life! 

Here's what I did:

  1. Checked with the principal to see if it was okay.
  2. Got my supplies—acrylic or latex paint(some buildings are latex free so check first and get the low-smell paint if you can); brush and/or roller; masking tape; and a drop cloth or plastic bag to cover the floor or counter if you plan on being really messy. 
  3. Next, I took masking tape (or that blue painter’s tape) and covered the frame—just like I would do if I were painting around a window at home.
  4. I painted the bulletin board(s).  I gave each bulletin board two thin coats of paint. 
  5. While the paint dried, I stepped back, drank a soda and admired my work.
  6. I cleaned up and went home—it has to dry overnight.  This is a good weekend project.  Paint on Friday after work, dry on Saturday and on Monday you are ready to compete putting letters and pictures on your board.

The result:  Glorious backgrounds that do not have to be replaced during the year. In fact, I haven’t repainted in five years!  And I have never had any trouble with staples or push pins.

Choose a color or colors you can live with.  I chose bright, jewel tones but you might like red, yellow, and blue.  I also was able to buy small containers of sample paint at Lowe's for a dollar each.  You might ask if they have paint that was mixed incorrectly—sometimes you can really save on cost.

Bulletin boards can add a lot to the room.  They give you space to highlight student work, display flow charts or inspiration messages.  BBs should be fun and not the bain of your existence.

Dona Helmer is the librarian at College Gate Elementary in Anchorage, AK. She has been everything from a university professor to district media coordinator. Although she has written other grants, she has had over 100 projects funded since 2011.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user: Florida Library Association

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