Crate Seat Tutorial

Pinterest gives me so many ideas for craft projects (see them on my other blog Nicole's Crafting Adventure!) and also for classroom lessons and projects.  At the beginning of this school year, I made many things for my new classroom.  I moved rooms and moved up two grades, so I wanted my new space to be different and exciting.  This project was to not only look good, but create storage and a seating place for students to Read to Self during Daily 5 time - Crate seats! 

I had a ton of crates that held student files, extra headphones for my listening center, books that tied into my reading themes, games and puzzles, and other random stuff. When I moved into my new 3rd grade room, the previous teachers (they job-shared) left me a collection of tennis ball containers full of Mad Minute math sheets for addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. They were housed in plastic drawers that were meant to look like this, but the tennis ball containers were too tall for the frame. The teachers had simply removed the drawers and placed them on a shelf near the door. Well, once the janitor decided to re-arrange my shelves and took out a row (don't ask - I'm still really mad about it!) the drawers didn't really work in that area anymore. I needed a new place to house these containers. Enter Pinterest.  I found inspiration here and here.

Along with all these creative ideas, I set off in search of my supplies. First stop, Ikea. I wanted some heavier weight fabric. We used Ikea fabric to cover our coffee table ottoman, so I knew it would work well. Once I got to the store, I saw that they had a vinyl covered-type fabric - Lialotta in navy. I knew this would be perfect for spills and other types of general cleanup. I bought 1 yard to cover my 4 crates.

I then headed over to Home Depot with my crate in tow. I went straight for the scrap section and got a helpful guy to measure my crate and cut a piece of particle board (OSB to be exact) just a smidge (yes, the technical kind of "smidge") smaller than the crate to include the fabric when I placed the seat in the lip of the crate. The Home Depot dude was awesome. He cut the wood about 4 times and checked with me each time to make sure it was what I wanted. He then cut the remaining 3 pieces the same size. Total spent on wood, get this - $2.01. I may have brought up the fact that this project was for kids, you know, to help sway his generosity in how much that scrap wood cost! :)

Next step was to raid my mother-in-law's sewing room for some foam. She first found a piece that needed to be cut in half width-wise. I broke out her electric turkey knife and got to work. Let me tell you, when I was finally done, it looked terrible! Because the knife was shorter than the length of the foam, I had to measure and cut down one side, then measure and cut down the other side. There was still a piece in the middle that hadn't been cut, so I tried to cut it even. Long story short, I ended up with a VERY lumpy side to the foam that I was afraid wouldn't adhere to the wood correctly and since I wasn't using batting between the foam and the fabric, I wouldn't have anything to hide the lumpiness. (*In retrospect, if I would have cut the foam the size of the wood pieces first, I probably would have been able to cut it in half just fine with the turkey knife. You live and you learn! :) I nicely told her I was off to JoAnn's to buy thinner foam when lo and behold, she found a perfect piece in the closet! Yay to free foam that isn't lumpy!

I used the turkey knife to cut the foam the same size as the boards. I traced each wooden board on the foam with a sharpie and then labeled the foam side and wood side. This way when I glued it down, it would match up perfectly.

I used spray adhesive that was leftover from making our coffee table ottoman. I first sprayed the glue on the wood, then placed the foam on the wood, lining up the edges. I then pressed on the foam to help adhere it to the wood. Once I had all 4 pieces of wood completely glued and dried, I got to work stapling the fabric.

I used my husband's staple gun and just wrapped the fabric around the wood like a present. It was hard to make the staples go all the way into the wood since the foam made the wood move every time I stapled. If I held the staple gun at an angle, it seemed to help.

Cost Breakdown:
Crates - already had
Wood - $2.01
Fabric - $7.99
Spray adhesive - already had
foam - got from my mother-in-law
staples and a staple gun - already had

Total: $10 even!

Whenever I want to do Mad Minute, it is so easy to grab the tennis ball container from the crates. I might make laminated signs so I know which crate is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.   But for now, I am loving this new addition to my classroom, pun intended!

What are some creative organization you have used in your classroom?  What would you put in your crate seats if you made them?


  1. thanks for sharing! I'm your newest follower!

    Color Me Kinder

  2. Thanks Edana!! I'm happy you found me! :)

  3. I gave you an award on my blog:

  4. I love this idea...I'm putting this on my summer bucket list! Thank you!

    Owl Things First

    1. So glad you liked the idea! They really are easy to make. Can't wait to see how yours turn out!

  5. Thanks for sharing your GREAT idea! I work at The Container Store and I will share your wonderful insight. Have a wonderful week and a great school year!
    Helen - Park Meadows Store

  6. Thanks for the info. My daughter and I made four of these for her new job--a second-grade teacher. We used black fabric and lime green crates; turned out very cute! I bought a product at Joann Fabrics that is like foam but comes on a roll.