Thursday, June 12, 2014

Better Late Than Never

So, as I was writing about the updates in my classroom nearly a year ago, I realized I never shared the "how-to" on my wall map that was painted a couple summers ago. I started writing this post, and was holding onto it thinking that I would save it for the next "Pinterest Challenge," which you can read more about here, here, here, and even here. But, one was never announced, so this post has been sitting in my draft folder for quite some time now, and I figured it was finally time to go ahead and it "Publish." 

I mentioned that I was starting the project, even shared the final product, but never really explained in detail the whole process. Granted, it's a simple process, and I really didn't take many photos along the way, but I still wanted to share in case there was someone else out there who wanted to attempt something similar. 

The first step in the process is to figure out what you want on your wall. I searched Pinterest for a map that had easy lines on it. As much as I love barrier islands, those seemed a little too tedious to paint. I settled on this map. Straight lines. Perfect!

Then, I rummaged through my supply closet and found some transparency films that my mom had salvaged from an old house. I printed the map onto the transparency film. The next task? Finding an overhead projector. Luckily, I knew that the math department had a couple stored away in a closet (perks of being the only social studies teacher in the math building) and said closet was unlocked over the summer.

At this point I bet you know where this is going, huh? Place transparency on projector. Hook up to electricity. Center it on your wall and get it to the desired size. Grab pencil. Trace.

I thought about adding a "You are Here" star on my map, but decided against it. If my students didn't know where Florida was on a map, we had bigger problems to deal with....

Once everything was traced, I returned the projector to the math closet and got busy deciding which states would be which color. I had bought 5 different colors of pre-mixed paint in quart size containers. Red, yellow, green, grey, and blue. I wrote the name of the color inside each state. Then I grabbed my brush and started painting.

These were both taken after 1 coat of paint. The grey covered much nicer than the red and the green. Probably because the grey was satin and the other colors were semi-gloss. Learn from my mistakes - don't use semi-gloss paint. Oh, and ignore that weird line going down through Montana and Wyoming; there was an adhesive strip that I still needed to remove.

I did the entire first coat by myself. Got a little messy in the process, but that's the fun part! A couple days later my mom came out and helped me paint the remaining coats on the map. It was nice to have an extra set of hands because we could tackle two colors at once.

The finished product:

Some other things that should be mentioned:

  • I used a black sharpie marker to draw the dashed lines around Alaska and Hawaii
  • You can still see the pencil outlines around the yellow states if you look hard enough.
  • You can still see the word "yellow" in the yellow states if you look hard enough.
  • I really shouldn't have painted Michigan blue; some students think it is the lakes and not the state itself. I have to remind them that there are five Great Lakes, not two. (And, yes, I teach high school juniors....)
As you saw in my most recent classroom tour, all of the walls got a fresh coat of paint, including the white around the map. I also added a border around the map to give it a more finished look.

Overall, I'm in love with my map! And the students love it too. It really has been helpful in getting the kids to understand where things in history are happening and not just the what and the who.

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