Have you been wondering if a magnetic VIPKid classroom is worth the money? Have you seen cute classroom setups full of sheet metal and neodymium magnets on Pinterest and YouTube, but are worried that it might be out of your price range? Today I want to show you how to create a magnetic VIPKid classroom without spending a ton of money.
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First, I want to remind you of the DINO rule that I used when deciding on my classroom setup. (Check out this post if you haven’t heard of my DINO rule. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your spot here! I’ll wait.)
Now that you’re familiar with the DINO Rule, I’ll give you the reasons why I think a magnetic classroom is an awesome way to apply this rule:
D is for DISPLAY
Using a magnetic wall in combination with magnetized props and rewards is an easy way to keep items on display in the classroom. I am able to plop anything on the wall behind me without worrying about sticky tack becoming unsticky or Command strips suddenly failing (both have happened to me).
I is for INSTRUCTION
There are many ways that a magnetic classroom increases the quality of my instruction in the classroom.
First, I am able to have a prop for basically anything without taking up tons of room in my classroom. There are still concepts and vocabulary words that I prefer to teach with actual objects, but I like that I can print something off and, within a few minutes, have a reusable prop for a concept or vocabulary word that is less conducive to realia.
Second, my magnetic classroom allows me to be a low-prep teacher. Any of my prep time for class is looking through the slides and becoming familiar with the words and concepts. Since my props are always within arms reach on my magnetic wall-o’-props next to me, I don’t have to worry about pulling anything out prior to class.
Third, I am able to use other magnetic surfaces in my classroom to keep my props out of my way during class, so I am able to focus on my teaching instead of fumbling around.
N is for NOVELTY
Magnets help SO much with novelty! You’ll see below that I use a plastic tablecloth from the dollar store to cover my magnetic wall. Then I just use magnets to create a simple but fun border. From there, I am able to switch things up for the seasons (or whenever I feel like it!) with very little hassle or cost.
Plus, one magnetic prop can be used in multiple ways in order to shake things up in your classroom! One magnetized horse cut-out, for example, can be used for all sorts of things. Are you teaching the word “horse” or the letter H? Pull out the horse for reinforcement! Do you love magnetic Find-a-Star? Put the horse behind one of the numbers as a reward! Do you have a horse-obsessed student? Transform ordinary stars by stacking a horse on top of it! (“You get a HORSE star!”)
You’ll find that magnetized props help you up your novelty game!
O is for ORGANIZATION
I LOVE using magnets for organization! The great thing about neodymium magnets is that you can stack similar props on top of each other, so that you have neat little stacks of related props and rewards. Even though a magnetic wall-o’-props can look a bit chaotic, it is usually a very organized chaos.
Visual clutter bothers me, so I actually keep only my higher-frequency props on my magnetic wall. I use an accordion file folder to store my seasonal props as well as my rewards that are ready for a break.
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about what you’re REALLY wondering:
How much does all of this COST?
How can I create a magnetic VIPKid classroom on a budget?
Well, my friend. I’m going to tell you! There are four steps:
STEP ONE: BACKGROUND
The first and most important part of a magnetic VIPKid classroom is creating a magnetic surface for your magnets. Some people like to have a pizza pan or cookie sheet on display behind them. I’ve used a magnetic white board in the past. However, I’ve found that in order to create the most flexible background for display and decorations, it is best to create one large magnetic wall behind you.
This might sound expensive, but it doesn’t have to be!
Many people create a magnetic wall with a large piece of sheet metal from a hardware store. Other people find that a large oil drip pan from the automotive department will do the trick. If you are REALLY feeling ambitious and handy, you could even repaint your wall with magnetic primer.
I actually did none of these things.
You see, I don’t live very close to a big box hardware store, where everyone said they had found their sheet metal. One day I took a trip to one of these stores and came up empty; the largest piece of sheet metal that I found was 2’x3′ and it cost over $20. To create what I was envisioning–two large magnetic walls–I knew that wouldn’t be cost-effective for me. (Remember, everyone’s budget is different. I never judge the financial decisions of others because we all have different budgets and priorities.)
So, in my case, I cut off the rims of $0.88 cookie sheets from Walmart and created TWO magnetic walls.
I want to help you see the different cost options for creating a magnetic wall, so here is a round-up of the options that I could think of. In order to give you the most up-to-date pricing, I decided to use Amazon image links, which updates the pricing automatically over time. (I know that there are options for you to find these items at a lower price…this just serves as a good relative comparison between items).
If you follow the directions on this magnetic primer, you can create a magnetic wall at a size of 4’x4′. Keep in mind that you will still need to buy latex paint to cover the primer, so include that in your cost analysis.
For comparison’s sake, I will be sharing items as close to 4’x4′ as possible.
This is a pretty common size for magnetic white boards and this was the lowest price that I found at the time of this article. If you REALLY want a 4’x4′ square, it will set you back over a hundred dollars.
You will need four of these sheets to make a 4’x4′ magnetic wall.
I chose this drip pan because it is just about four feet long. There are some smaller options.
I couldn’t find any cookie sheets on Amazon that were similar to what I purchased at Walmart and Dollar Tree. Once you cut off the rim, the magnetic sheets measure 9″x12.5″. You would need 20 cookie pans to make a 45″ x”50″ wall. You can check out my post for a cost breakdown of the wall I created (there are a few more expenses involved). At the time I purchased my cookie pans from Walmart, they were $0.88. I recently noticed that they had gone up to $0.99 at my local store.
Keep in mind that I chose 4’x4′ mainly as a comparison point; depending on how close your computer is to the wall, you could get away with a smaller size for your magnetic wall.
OR you can skip the large wall altogether and display a $1 cookie sheet behind you. Seriously…you can create a magnetic classroom on ANY budget.
STEP TWO: MAGNETS
The next step is finding neodymium magnets on a budget. If you look around on sites like BangGood and Wish, you can find neodymium magnets pretty inexpensively!
I don’t love to wait weeks and months for my shipments to arrive, so I have found my favorite pack of neodymium magnets on Amazon. In fact, I’ve found Amazon to be pretty competitive for neo magnets when you consider the free two-day shipping for Prime Members. Just click the photo below if you want to order. Believe me, by the time you remember to shop around for a slightly-lower price you could have these in your mailbox already. I’m NOTORIOUS for that!
These little guys cost around four cents each when they are “on sale”…which is basically all the time (from my experience). With the minimal cost of paper, ink and laminating, I figure that I spend five to ten cents per prop, depending on size. However, there are other ways to keep your costs down.
What about other magnets?
In order to experience ALL of the perks of a magnetic VIPKid classroom, you should really stick with neo magnets. I have a few refrigerator-type magnets that I use for decorations, but I get really annoyed at the fact that they take up so much room on my storage board because they don’t stack. Also, here is a link to some ceramic button magnets. I think you’ll find that they are actually more expensive than neo magnets!
STEP THREE: HANDHELD MAGNETIC SURFACE
You will also want to use a handheld magnetic surface for bringing your props close to the camera for the students to see. Usually you will just hold up the props, but sometimes you might need to display multiple props at once and it is nice to use a smaller magnetic surface to hold them all. You might want to do this when blending words using magnetized flashcards, or when building a reward (like ice cream or a farm scene).
I’m all about multi-purpose props and teaching tools, so my handheld magnetic surface is actually my small whiteboard. I have several small magnetic whiteboards that I purchased from Walmart for right around $2. I decided against the Dollar Tree whiteboards that are so popular because I wanted mine to be magnetic. Plus, there are magnets on the BACK of the whiteboard so I can build a reward for my student on the front, then slap it on the large magnetic wall behind me.
I know: So. Many. Magnets!
Other people have purchased the metal scrapers/choppers (like this one, pictured above) and they use those as handheld magnetic surfaces. You can find these at Dollar Tree! You could also use a small pan. But again, I prefer a multi-use surface for monetary AND practical reasons so the small whiteboard is perfect for me.
STEP FOUR: EVEN MORE MAGNETIC SURFACES!!
Once you have all of your essential magnetic surfaces and your magnetic props, it’s time to continue to enhance your classroom with additional magnetic surfaces that will help you stay organized!
I LOVE to keep my props for my current lesson lined up in front of me. At first, I thought I would need some sort of metal strip to attach to my computer stand (since it was not magnetic). But then one day I discovered, by accident, that my neodymium magnets stick to the cheap, white-coated wire drawer organizers from Dollar Tree. I have these little white baskets on my computer stand to help me organize my 3D props, so it has been so nice to have a surface where I can keep my props stashed for my current class as I am teaching.
In my experience, traditional magnets do NOT stick to these, but the neo magnets DO!
Look around your house for even MORE multi-use magnetic surfaces that you can use in your classroom to keep your props within reach. File cabinet? Metal desk? Metal canisters? The options abound once you decide on a magnetic VIPKid classroom!
So there you have it: A magnetic VIPKid classroom on a budget! It really does NOT have to be expensive to create a classroom that is magnet-friendly. Over time, I’m going to show you some of the awesome ways that I use my magnetic background to enhance my lessons and make my life easier.
Do you have a magnetic background in your classroom? Are there any other tips that you would like to share? Please join the discussion in the comments below (or begin one!).