Congratulations! It’s back to school for your fourth grader, and you both are in for a great year. You can expect new reading books, new math work, and exciting new studies in science and social studies. And of course, some more growing up along the way! But schoolwork can get disorganized pretty quickly, too, when a kid this age is handling so many different subjects.
Teachers understand the issue, and they’ll do their best to keep things as organized as possible for their students and their families. But you can be a big help at home too, by helping your child set up an organized area to hold all of her important papers, forms and anything else she might need. This will be a great place to house all of those important materials, including those loose memos, like field trip permission forms, which always seem to build up. Even if chaos seems to take over at first, take heart: the pay off that comes with organization is always worth the effort. Kids do better, adults yell less, and nobody misses field trips!
Around this time of year, you can find lots of organization products at most stores. But with this homemade bulletin board project you can make your own organization tool at little or no cost right at home.
What You Need:
- Hang-up bulletin board that fits near your child’s desk, approximately 24' x 32” (or so)
- 1 yard of plain fabric in a design your child really likes (a good suggestion is cotton broadcloth, but you can also use flannel. (Beware heavy canvas, however, which is too thick)
- 6 yards of ½-inch wide grosgrain ribbon in a coordinating color
- Staple gun
- Package of flat-head thumbtacks in a coordinating color
- Masking Tape
- Felt, cut to the same size as the bulletin board, in a coordinating color
What You Do:
- Take your bulletin board and lay it on a flat surface. If it has a frame on it, take the frame off. You can also purchase excellent bulletin board material at a hardware and lumber store, by the square yard, with no frame.
- Lay the fabric over the bulletin board surface so that there is a generous overlap at the edges. Trim the fabric so that there is a border around each side that's roughly 6 inches wide.
- Carefully smooth the fabric over the bulletin board surface and fold it over the edge. Check again to make sure that that the fabric on the front is not uneven. Then check the corners, and fold them as you might if you were wrapping a present.
- Anchor the corners with masking tape, and then use the staple gun to staple the fabric permanently in place.
- Now turn the bulletin board over and stretch the ribbon across the top of the front of the board. Start by draping the end of the ribbon about six inches in from the edge, over the top edge of the board, and anchor it with a staple. Then stretch the ribbon diagonally across the corner, pull it around and to the back, anchor and trim it. Lay out ribbons at intervals of 6–8 inches making diagonal stripes across the face of the board. Then crisscross the ribbons with another set, following the same steps, resulting in a lattice pattern across the face of the board.
- At the junctions where each ribbon meets, take out your staple gun again, and anchor the junction with a staple. Then finish it off with a flat head thumbtack.
- Finally, when all the ribbons are attached and secured, turn the bulletin board over and cover the back with the felt piece. Again, use the staple gun along the edges to staple the felt to the back, creating a smooth surface.
- Congratulations! You’ve created a personal organization tool, styled just as your child likes, and most importantly, you and your child have made something that will make make a big difference in her success at school and at home. Papers can be tacked anywhere on the bulletin board, but when small stuff comes in, you can tuck those things into the ribbons of the lattice. Your child will be proud of this bulletin board…and even prouder of the success that comes when she has a place for everything, and everything is in its place.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.