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Silhouettes, File Cabinets, and Bright Colors, OH MY!

I recently shared a classroom photo on Instagram and was delighted to see the enthusiastic response from my fans. Kindergarten teachers don’t miss a beat and I received so many questions in regard to my file cabinets and the child silhouettes that are displayed throughout my classroom. This blog post is dedicated to answering a few of those big questions!

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
how to spray paint your file cabinets and answers to other classroom decor DIY questions

Spray Painting File Cabinets

First of all, let’s talk file cabinets! Teachers love to ask a lot of questions about my bright yellow cabinets. As you’ve probably guessed, they weren’t always yellow. Some of my file cabinets used to be black. A few were formerly taupe. I spray painted all of them Sun Yellow using Krylon gloss spray paint.
sun yellow spray paint for classroom file cabinets
If you have never spray painted before, beware. The work is tedious. And not intended for the impatient person. Long, slow strokes are the only way to go and you will feel like your hand and/or arm will fall off within 10 minutes. If you try to rush and use too much spray, your project will turn out as a disaster. I did not use spray primer when I painted my cabinets, but I probably will next time. Going from black to yellow required SEVERAL coats and moving schools chipped the paint in a few areas on my cabinets. I’m pretty sure primer would have helped to solve both of those issues. You will also want to purchase a special nozzle that fits on top of the spray paint can that turns it into a spray gun. This will make your hand and fingers more comfortable while you paint. A lot more comfortable, in fact. But make no mistake, your wrist and arm will still be sore when you are done.

spray paint can nozzle
Proper spray paint technique is oh-so-important. My friend Mario (the school custodian) gave me a lesson the first time I spray painted and warned me about the consequences of painting too quickly or too aggressively. Since I can’t send Mario to give you a personal lesson, I did the next best thing. I found the perfect YouTube video. It is short, sweet, and too the point. Take notes and remember to use long, soft strokes that go in a straight line when you spray paint!

Now that I have frightened you about spray painting, let me assure you:

I love my bright yellow cabinets and I would spray paint another one in an instant this summer if such a need arises. The work is hard but the result is simply stunning.
so many cute ideas for classroom decor!
Luna Bazaar is my FAVORITE place to shop for paper lanterns. They come in dozens of colors and many different sizes, all at a great price.


Classroom Child Silhouettes

Several fans also wanted to know about the silhouettes of children playing that adorn my classroom. I LOVE these images so much! The silhouette graphics are from Schoolgirl Style (my favorite source of classroom inspiration). I printed each graphics on my computer, then placed the computer printouts under my classroom Elmo and projected the images onto sheets of black Fadeless paper. This created enlarged versions of the graphics. I traced the outline of each image and set about the tedious task of cutting each one out by hand.

Yes, it was time consuming.
YES, like my spray painted file cabinets, it was completely worth it!

I then lightly coated the back of each cutout with Super 77 spray adhesive from 3M and positioned them on the cloud boards above my classroom windows.
love these silhouettes of children playing… perfect for a kindergarten classroom

Vinyl Silhouette Accents

A few (particularly observant) fans also noticed the black silhouettes attached to my spray painted cabinet and desk. As you probably guessed, those are not fadeless paper. They are black vinyl. Just like my paper silhouettes, I used my classroom Elmo to project the child silhouettes, but this time I traced the pictures onto the back of black vinyl sheets. I cut out my traced images, peeled the vinyl, and stuck the images of those sweet children to various surfaces in my classroom, including my teacher desk and file cabinet.

how to spray paint your file cabinets and answers to other classroom decor DIY questions adorable classroom file cabinets!
I also placed a vinyl silhouette of a little boy on the side of a bookshelf that serves as a boundary for my classroom library. I love, love, LOVE the whimsical feel these silhouettes add to our learning environment.
adorable kindergarten classroom library! adorable kindergarten classroom library!

Questions are Always Welcome

Now that you’ve had a few of your biggest questions answered about my classroom, are you wondering about anything else? I am so touched to hear that teachers find inspiration from my own classroom and am always happy to answer your questions. If you haven’t already, check out my initial classroom reveal blog post. It is loaded with dozens of great photos.
gorgeous kindergarten classroom
Be sure to follow me on Instagram to get exclusive sneak peeks at all of my classroom antics. I always have a camera nearby and am eager to share photos with you!
Maria Gavin camera

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Maria Gavin

Maria is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, with 13 years of teaching experience. Her love and passion for all things early childhood is now fulfilled as a mom to two amazing kids. She loves sharing practical and creative tips and ideas that are perfect for young learners – in the classroom or at home!

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40 Responses

  1. You are very fortunate to be able to change your classroom so very much including painting cabinets etc. I am curious who pays for all the decor, paint etc. Does it all come out of your pocket or does the school pay for it. Any idea how much it cost to make this beautiful transformation? It sure is something to aspire to.

    1. Hi Sue! Those are excellent questions! My school is VERY old and most of the teacher furniture we have has been donated to us. My original tall file cabinet was very old and in desperate need of a makeover. It wasn’t hard to talk my principal into letting me paint it. I am always aware of school property and I make sure I am adding value to an item before I paint it. This year I had a perfectly fine putty colored short file cabinet in my classroom that I couldn’t bear to paint. So, I went to a local thrift store and purchased a second-hand cabinet out of my own pocket to paint. I passed the good file cabinet I already possessed onto another teacher.

      The total cost of a classroom transformation will vary considerably depending on how much you want to change. I believe I paid $25 for my small second-hand file cabinet. It required several cans of spray paint (my best guess is 4 cans). Most cans of paint cost approximately $6; so that would bring the total for one cabinet to $50 if you had to purchase the cabinet yourself.

  2. Great Post! I love the yellow. It just makes you want to smile (which is needed in our cold winter months in Ohio). Thanks so much for sharing.
    Curious Firsties

  3. What a beautiful room! I was just wondering where did you get the tree on your wall? There a picture of it in your original post about your room. It has colorful leaves. Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Mrs. M and Mandi!
      I created the tree myself with sheets of black vinyl and I cut out brightly colored cardstock for the leaves. They were attached with blue sticky tack. I am considering writing an entire blog post to serve as a tutorial. Would you be interested in a post like that?

  4. I love your room! I am a new teacher and am trying to find a way to organize my classroom library, how do you organize yours? Do you have any suggestions? Or know where to buy a good set of book bin labels?


    1. Hi Elizabeth!
      Thank you so much for the sweet compliment… I love my classroom too! I am currently re-organizing my classroom library and working on a set of book labels! I plan to blog about the finished project, but it will still be several weeks until I am ready to share it. Stay tuned!

  5. This may be a silly question Ms. Maria, but when you put the graphic under the ELmo and traced them on to the fadeless paper was the paper backwards as well? I am thinking that tracing onto black with a pencil would be terribly difficult???

    1. I used all kinds of tape in all kinds of places! My favorite is Scotch brand tear-by-hand packaging tape. it is very strong and holds up great! Everything that is on my classroom walls or cabinets is either held up by regular scotch tape or blue sticky tack.

  6. Hi Maria,
    I love absolutely everything about your classroom!!! I am a first year teacher and I was just able to access my classroom the other day for the first time. It is Completely empty and I have a ton of work ahead of me. Our school has no windows at all and I just love the idea of having the fake windows to brighten up the space.
    I noticed that the link for the silhouettes goes to a non working page. Do you know if it’s just down or if there is another way to access them?
    Thank you,

  7. Please, please, PLEASE do a vinyl tree tutorial! I have some branch “silhouettes” from Melanie at SGS, but I am curious how you managed a whole tree 🙂

  8. Hey Maria! How tall did you make your silhouettes on your wall above your window? I am trying my best to recreate the silhouettes! Please let me know:)

    1. Hi Ali,
      I printed smaller versions of the graphics on my computer, then placed each one under my classroom document camera and projected the image onto my whiteboard. I taped a sheet of black fadeless paper to the whiteboard and traced around the projection on the white side of the paper. I hope that helps!

  9. I would love to have the graphics for the silhouettes of the children! I clicked on the link, but it says the page is not accessible. 🙁 Is there an alternative link? Your classroom is amazing!!

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Hi, I'm Maria.

I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned work-from-home mom. I still love sharing ideas and resources to make teaching easier, so you can focus on what really matters in the classroom. When I’m not working on the blog, you’ll find me chasing kids around the house with a cold cup of coffee in my hand (some things never change even once you’re out of the classroom!)


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