January 29, 2011

Toddler Easels

This is what standard easels look like;

They are great, lots of uses and invaluable in the classroom. But I've found a few problems with them in my toddler class.

Some of my little ones are very little, and find it hard to reach even the bottom of the easel board. Also when my little ones get excited they tend to be physical and these types of easels are easy to knock about.

So during the Christmas break, when I was up at Mum and Dad's I got Dad to help me make 2 big easels for my class room.

I found everything I needed at the local hardware store; 4 Hinges, 8 rubber feet, 4 card table stays and 4 boards.

For the boards I used white melamine particleboard, the same thing you would use in kitchen cupboards. I liked that it had the white layer on the outside that is easy to wipe clean, is solid (won't break easily) and the best bit was it was the exact size I wanted (120mm x 60mm) so no cutting necessary.

Because I used the melamine I had to finish the edges with special tape that sealed the exposed particle board from moisture. To do this you iron the tape on and set with a roller.

We then drilled holes for the hinges and screwed them together. We used two large hinges on the top of each easel.
(I totally look like a super cool handy-girl!)

I put rubber feet in the bottom to help stop it sliding.

We then added a card table stay on each side of each easel. This was Dad's brainwave. The pieces of metal lock together when they are straight, but can bend in when you close the easels. It's like the locking mechanism you find on folding tables or ladders. Dad reasoned that this would stop the easels from suddenly snapping closed on little fingers.

Ta Da! Done.

Dad then made a wooden tray that can slide over the top and sit snuggly on little pegs we put on the side of each board.

Here the easels are in the room. The kids love them - and I do too. I use large bulldog clips to hold the paper to the easel. Even my littlest one can reach paper if we clip it lower down, and for my taller children I clip it at the top - so versatile!

I leave pencils and crayons on them all the time, and we use paint at specific times during the day.

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