How to Make a DIY Wall-Size Chalkboard

DIY Wall-size chalkboard

One of my dreams since before I was even married was to one day have a huge chalkboard on the wall behind my dining room table. I envisioned my future home with a long farmhouse table with little curly-headed creative children filling every chair. I had been inside a few families’ homes where it was evident that the days spent there were full of creating and learning from the moment you stepped in the door. I imagined my future family life being similar. I pictured watercolors and living books spread out, every child giving me their full attention and hanging onto every word I said as I led our lesson time. I am an idealist by nature, clearly. 

Fast-forward ten years or so and much of my vision is coming true before my eyes. I’ve got my family and my farmhouse table and the seats are filling up with wide-eyed imaginative children. While I can’t say that our school times are as unrealistically magical as I imagined, they are so full and rich even on the most chaotic of days and I am so thankful.

All I have been needing is my big ol’ chalkboard! I had been holding out to create the “perfect” classroom space until we built our dream home, but when those plans got put on hold and we moved back into our previous house, I decided to just go for it. I was shocked to learn how inexpensive and simple it was to create. I had some of the supplies already, so I was able to make our board for under $25! We have now had it for about six months and we use it almost every day! 

DIY school chalkboard

Here is how you can make yours:

Supplies

  • A piece of smooth hardboard, cut to the desired size. My husband picked up a piece from Lowe’s that was already a great size for our wall. Our piece is about 4 feet by 8 feet and was $9! If you wanted it smaller, you could ask for them to cut it for you in the store. You can really turn any smooth surface into a chalkboard, but if you are looking for something large, inexpensive, and thin to hang, this is a great option.
  • Foam paint roller, tray, and handle. I used some I had lying around, but if you don’t have any of these, you could buy one here.  
  • Broomstick (optional). I unscrewed my broom head and screwed the roller on the end of it so I could lay the board flat and paint it from standing up. This is optional, but was easiest for me since I was pretty largely pregnant when I made it! 
  • Dry, lint-free rags. You will need a couple of clean dry rags to clean your board and for the curing process. Try to find one that won’t leave lint behind. I have and love these for my kitchen, so I used them for this as well.
  • Chalkboard paint. You want to get a can of paint, not the spray. I used Rust-Oleum and have been very pleased. I didn’t need the whole can for my large board. Here is the one I bought.  
  • A bunch of cheap white chalk. You are going to need this chalk to condition the board. You need something that creates dust! Don’t get the fancy wax-type chalk. Here’s the one I use for conditioning and also writing. 

How to create your chalkboard

Clean your hardboard.

Get a rag damp and wipe the board down. You want to make sure to get rid of all of the dust. Once the board is completely clean and dry from wiping, start painting! I laid my board on the ground and painted from a standing position, using a broomstick to extend my roller. I did 3 coats on my board and it was more than covered well. Let dry completely before each coat and before moving to the next step, following the drying time guidelines on the can.

Condition your board

To ensure ghosting doesn’t happen after you clean off what you have written, you need to create a chalk foundation on your board. Do not skip this step or you will regret it!

  1. Take a piece of white chalk and rub the entire surface vertically ensuring the board is covered. Use the side of the chalk rather than the tip.
  1. Once again, using the side of a piece of white chalk, rub the entire surface horizontally making sure the entire board is covered.
  1. Using a rag, work the chalk dust into all the nooks and crannies of the surface by wiping it in a circular motion all over the board. Once you have finished the entire board you can clean it with a wet rag and your board is all set to go!

Hang your chalkboard.

My husband used anchors and black screws and just screwed it around the edges right into the wall. Another option would be to frame it out and attach picture hangers to the back to hang it. 

DIY homeschool chalkboard

A few additional tips:

I don’t recommend using chalk markers or wax-like chalk on your board. I have had the best luck with the good ol’ inexpensive dusty chalk. I buy this one on Amazon.

If you use this tutorial to create your own chalkboard, please share it with me on Instagram. I would love to see how it looks in your home!

Step-by-Step Cardboard Playhouse

My mom recently called me with one purpose: to tell me that she got a new IKEA couch. She had saved the enormous box specifically for me, knowing she could count on me to turn it into something fun for her grandkids. She knows me almost too well – so does my husband. That’s why when we went to family dinner the following Sunday, he wasn’t too surprised to find himself rearranging the minivan and shoving a ten foot box into the back of it. We had to fold it and break it down a bit, but eventually we got it all home.

I considered creating a castle or a boat, but after much scrolling and pinning I decided to create a little cardboard village. I narrowed in on an eclectic little home, a modern large library with a bookshelf inside, and a little grocery market. I know I can’t knock this all out at the same time, but I plan to build on it over time since I have the cardboard for it! Here are a couple of the cardboard playhouses that inspired this project:

We have a split-level home with a long, narrow downstairs space that needs a lot of beautifying work. It has been a wonderful sensory play space for the kids. I am working on cleaning out some furniture down there that doesn’t get enough use for the space it’s taking up. Besides, where will the cardboard village reside if silly couches are in the way? Until I have enough space for it all, I decided to start with the little house.

I did half of this project outside in the shade while the kids played in the plastic pool and sandbox. I finished the rest of it one evening after they went to bed. I think it took me a total of 3-4 hours. Below, I’ve given you a materials list and then broken it down for you in steps.

MATERIALS:

  • Large pieces of cardboard

  • Duct tape

  • Measuring tape

  • Box cutter and blades

  • Spray adhesive

  • Fabric (large enough pieces to cover the sides of your playhouse)

  • Hot glue and sticks

  • Other embellishments such as a cabinet knob, paint, or fake flowers

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay your large pieces of cardboard out, and cut two rectangles of the same width and height. Mine happened to be 25″x34″, but you can work with whatever size cardboard you have.

  2. Cut out two more rectangular pieces with a triangle on top that are the same size (this should look like a pentagon or sides of a house). The height of all four pieces need to be the same, but these two can be narrower or wider than the previously cut rectangles, depending on how wide or narrow you want your house. I used the measuring tape to be sure the triangle was centered. My pieces measured 34″x34″, and my triangle was 14″ high from the top of the rectangle.
  3. Cut out your windows and door using the box cutter.

  4. Cover each side of the house with fabric. I used spray adhesive to do this, and it worked well. I used different colors of fabric for each side, only because I didn’t have enough fabric in my scrap bin to do it all the same. You could also use paint, wallpaper, or just let your kids color it!

  5. Duct tape all four walls together. I had to crawl inside and have my husband hold each wall for me to tape the seams shut. In some areas I used hot glue to reinforce the seams.

  6. Cut a rectangle for the roof, fold it, and hot glue it on. Add shingles if you would like. This was the most time consuming part, but they turned out so cute. I just cut out rectangles and used hot glue to attach them.

  7. Add embellishments. I added painted window frames, curtains, a cabinet knob for a door knob, and window flower boxes with fake flowers.

In one week this little house has been a flower shop, a puppet stage, and a market. Every stuffed animal in the house has been inside and it has been played with way more hours than it took creating it. I call that a win! I will update this post once the rest of the village is created.

The Softest, Simplest No-Cook Playdough

It is a rainy week, which means our outside adventuring plans for the next few days have been canceled. Usually this means the kids and I do lots of baking, but it’s the beginning of bathing suit season and I am so not ready. I still wanted to have us all come together around the dining room table to work on something to beat the rainy day blues, so I decided it was a good time for a fresh batch of my favorite DIY playdough.

I am not afraid of letting my kids mix colors or create something and leave it out to dry up and eventually get tossed. I am also known for encouraging them to use natural materials like sticks and rocks in their creations, so once the creating is over, that portion of dough gets tossed. Making our own playdough is so incredibly cheap in comparison to store-bought that it allows me to not fret about “wasted” dough in the name of creativity! Also, it is completely edible, so when your child makes a plate of green beans that look so real that your other child actually takes a bite while playing, you don’t have to freak out. He will spit it out, though. It tastes super salty, but at least you know all of the ingredients that went in his mouth.

Here’s my go-to recipe. This makes a great amount. I usually divide it into 6-8 parts and color them differently. Most of these items I pick up at the grocery store, the cheapest store-brand. But the food coloring and the cream of tartar I have found the best prices on Amazon. I use food coloring for lots of baking and crafts so I’ve linked to a large set with lots of colors.

As for essential oils, I get mine from Gina, a sweet homeschool mama, at http://fitoilsmomma.com/. I’ve also offered Amazon links if that’s your preference. This time, I used Wild Orange and Peppermint oil for the energizing elements on a dreary day, but I have also used Lavender in other batches for more of a calming experience.

The Softest, Simplest No-Cook Playdough

Adapted from Momspotted.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of Flour

  • 1 Cup of Salt

  • 1/4 Cup of Vegetable Oil

  • 1/4 Cup of Cream of Tartar

  • 3 Cups Boiling Water

  • Food Coloring

  • 20-30 drops of essential oils (optional)

Instructions:

1. Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar & oil in a large bowl. I usually have my water boiling while I do this step.

2. Add in boiling water and stir. I start with a wooden spoon, but I change over to using my hands once it cools a little to knead it all together.

3. Add in the essential oil and knead again.

4. Flatten out the ball as evenly as possible and cut it with a butter knife into 6-8 parts, depending on how many colors you would like to make.

5. Place each section in a zipper bag with drops of food coloring and zip shut, pressing the air out of the bag. Knead the color into the dough. I usually take it out of the bag once it is kneaded in a little bit and continue to knead with my hands. Starting it off in the bag helps eliminate food coloring stains on your hands. Another option is to use the paddle attachment on a kitchen mixer.

This is a great activity to get your little ones involved in. There is much to be learned in measuring, stirring, kneading, color mixing, and counting drops!

Playdough is a great sensory activity and so much open-ended play comes from smooshing, rolling, imagining, and creating. This ALEX Toys kit is one of our go-to playdough tools. They’re pricier than the plastic pieces, but wooden toys are always more durable and let’s be honest, more aesthetically pleasing when they’re sprawled all over your kitchen table.