Shelf Markers

Are you dissatisfied with the shelf markers you’ve bought? I know that the plastic ones I’ve purchased snap in half pretty early in the year. For some reason, my students want to experiment and find out how far they can bend the pieces of plastic before they break.
And the design choices can be limited. Do you want some really cute shelf markers, that will last longer, too? They are soooo simple to make!

First, go to your local hardware store and ask them if they will donate paint stirrers to your library. I went to my local Home Depot and they gave me about 40 paint stirrers. Free!
(I try to mention the donation whenever I get a chance. I DO appreciate businesses that support teachers! Don’t you?)

Next, paint the stirrers a solid color. Choose a color that matches your library decor and the accent paper you plan to use. Spray paint would be quicker, but messy. I used acrylic paint and a foam brush to paint both sides and the edges.

Then, choose a piece of scrapbook paper that matches your library theme. I have a space theme in my library, so I cut out little robots to decorate our paint stirrers.

Use Mod Podge to adhere the decorative paper pieces to the top (handle) of the paint stirrer.
Then use a foam brush to brush on a layer of Mod Podge over the top of the paper scraps.
After that dries, spray clear acrylic sealer over the top of the paper, so it won’t be sticky.

 Ta da! Ready for school library action!

Have you made your own shelf markers? Tell us about it! Send us a link to the photo!

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    1. Awesome! I am taking my first job at the elementary level, and am glad for any help I can find. I’m off to see if Wal-Mart will donate some paint stirrers. Thanks for the idea!!

      1. Thanks, LisaRose, for taking time to comment! I hope you’ll consider adding learning centers to your library. I think you and your students will love them!

    2. I’ve gone to using large laminated strips of construction paper for my shelf markers. with a transcient community, I can barely make library cards for the new students and take out the students who have moved. Also, many of the librarians I have talked to have the same problem with paint stirrers that I have had — namely, the tendency of the students to use them as swords. Not to actually fight with them, but to pretend to be pirates, etc. I don’t want to stifle creative play, but it’s not safe and it breaks the sticks.

      1. Do your laminated paper markers last all year?
        I might make laminated card stock shelf markers with student barcodes on them. Then they could do double duty as library cards and shelf markers.
        My students don’t fight with the wooden shelf markers. Sometimes they absent-mindedly slap them against their own leg, but that’s about it.

    3. I use paint stirrers too. I let the kids decorate them with markers on one side and write their names on the back. I also glue their barcode in the back. Makes it fast to scan. It also helps substitutes with names. I keep them from year to year until they leave my K-2 building. Then they take their shel marker with them.

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