DIY chalkboard wall art for kids

Victoria S.
June 12, 2018

On a rainy day, your child can splash in puddles and sing in the rain—but that can get really muddy really fast. Instead, your kids might prefer to watch their favorite cartoon or play their favorite video game on days like that. For parents trying to cut down on family screen time, that’s not ideal. But more and more, our kids would rather sit in front of a screen than stretch their creative muscles during free play. Our solution: make a creative station to inspire your child.

If we want to un-glue our children from their screens and engage them in creative unplugged play, we can’t “force-feed” fun. Structured fun isn’t really free play at all, and we don’t want unplugged play to become something our kids dread on the same level as homework. But as parents, we can create irresistible spaces for our kids to bump into as they go about their day. That way, the play is their idea and everything they need is already in place and waiting for them when they start playing. A great way to help kids discover fun for themselves is by creating a DIY chalkboard art wall for them to play with.

The chalkboard wall is a convenient and super-fun way to make play easy to find in your home. It’s big—too big to miss. It’s an empty canvas just begging to be drawn on. (Didn’t you want to draw all over the walls as a kid?) And as an added bonus, it provides all the vertical storage space you need for art supplies and inspirational materials and even adds family ambiance to your home decor. You can even supply decorations to provide a little bit of inspiration and make space to display finished artwork. Here are some key materials:

You can find these supplies at many stores near you or online without breaking the bank. And if you want, you can save money on shelving by building your own out of plywood! Or you can search your local thrift shop for cheap and unique picture frames, shelves, and other DIY decor.

Step 1: Choose your chalkboard wall

First, find the wall you’re going to transform. Choosing a wall is more strategic than it sounds. When choosing a place for your child’s play space, it helps to place it in an area they will easily “bump into,” so they may be inspired to play while going about their day. Where does your child enjoy spending time? It can be in your kid’s bedroom, their playroom, or even in the family room. Just make sure there’s enough space around the wall for your child to play, move around, and occasionally make a mess. Once you’ve chosen a wall, roll on a few coats of chalkboard paint and let it dry.

Step 2: Stack the supplies

We only put one shelf on our chalkboard wall, but like all DIY projects, there are no rules or “right way” to do things. The more shelves you have, the more materials you can store. Shelves can hold books on drawing, origami, and other creative topics. They can hold construction paper, toys, and all sorts of materials. When kids have access to supplies and a huge canvas, they can stretch their creative muscles whenever inspiration strikes. And when they have a wide variety of creative materials and colors to choose from, they can keep trying new things. No two drawings are the same, and every new project will be a new adventure for your child.

When placing your shelf, (or shelves!) think about your child’s height and whether they’ll be able to reach their supplies. Paper, books, and less messy supplies can sit at easy reaching height. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you might decide to store paint, glue, and other messy supplies higher up so you can regulate when and where the mess happens. It’s worth keeping in mind that through your kid’s creative use of chairs and other furniture, this may not be a foolproof strategy.

Simple supplies like colorful chalk, crayons, and markers can be stored in the buckets, which should hang at easy grab-and-go height. We placed our buckets on wall hooks right below the shelf. The beauty of the buckets is in their portability. Maybe your child wants to draw with crayons in the kitchen, in the backyard. Their supplies are portable and super-easy to clean up and put away.

To break up the open space and provide a dedicated area for smaller drawings, hang picture frames on the wall for your child to draw inside. This can add a decorative touch to the wall, especially if you are painting a wall in the family room or other open space. The frames also allow kids to try different artistic ideas in different frames, learn to share their space with a sibling or friend, and even use the frames as part of their imaginative designs. They can draw pictures of themselves, of family, friends, pets, creatures, and all the places—real and imaginary—that they want to go.

The chalkboard doesn’t have to be chalk-only, either. You can tape your kid’s crayon drawings and finger paintings inside the picture frames or hang a length of twine or ribbon across the board to clip drawings, A+ report cards, and childhood photos on display. You can use clothespins to easily hang up your child’s creations.

Step 3: Let the kids run wild!

Imagine giving your child all the space and supplies they could want to make their imagination come to life. What kinds of amazing things would they create? When you give your child such an enticing opportunity, maybe they will choose to stretch their minds and create something new on a rainy day instead of consuming entertainment from a screen.

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