Just a few things that make teachers very, very happy:
~Electric pencil sharpeners and the smell of newly sharpened pencils
~Fresh starts each fall
~New curriculum and books
~A totally clean and organized learning space
~The feeling of being (somewhat) prepared
~The thought of all the wonderful adventures awaiting you and your students each and every new school year. 
And if you’re at least somewhat of a traditional teacher, you also appreciate a good old-fashioned chalkboard too.  Well, I know I do.
Except–since becoming a homeschool teacher as opposed to a public school teacher, I didn’t have one!  …until today…
Now I have a beautiful chalkboard that looks great on my wall, was super cheap, and will work perfectly for our family’s homeschooling needs.
And, it was a D.I.Y. project–and an easy one at that–so I thought I’d share it with you.
 Basically, I got an ugly framed piece of art at the thrift store this week for $10.
I used the frame for my chalkboard project, but I have big plans for the large (24×36″) canvas too…you’ll have to wait to see what I’m doing with that! 
But this week, my goal was to repurpose that frame.
So, here we go:
I brought my giant piece of artwork home…
And I separated the canvas from the frame (it was stapled on).

I then went to Home Depot and bought a $6 piece of thin plywood and had them cut it right there in the store to fit the opening, which was exactly 2 feet by 3 feet.
I painted the entire thing with magnetic paint (3 coats) before spraying 2 coats of this chalkboard paint over that.
(more on the magnetic paint at the end of the post).

Next, I painted the frame a creamy white from paint leftovers I had in the garage.
Then I took 150 grit sandpaper and distressed it.
(forgot to take a pic, sorry)
I decided I wanted some type of heading on my chalkboard…something like TODAY or IMAGINE or CREATE or ???  But I kept coming back to a verse the Lord has been speaking to my heart over and over in the past weeks…

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
THINK on these things.
{Philippians 4:8}
Think on these things…
I thought this verse provided the perfect heading for our homeschooling chalkboard–
Not only as a reminder for the whole family to think and meditate and ponder and wonder at that which is pure and holy and lovely and of good report–in the Lord…but also as a reminder to THINK on, ponder, wonder at, remember, and dwell on what we are studying this school year (which, I hope and pray, will ALSO be good and lovely, true and right, since our Lord is the center of it all!)

I also loved that the word THINK is a great teacher-y kind of title for a chalkboard too. 🙂

So I used word processing to type out the word in the font I wanted (Biondi) and I printed the letters out (using 2 sheets of paper to get them the size I wanted) and taped them together.
I then rubbed down the BACK of the paper with chalk
Then lined the lettered paper up on my chalkboard, and traced over the letters with a pencil, pressing VERY firmly.

Once I moved the paper off, I then had a very faint outline of the letters on the surface.

So, I just painted right over the outline with permanent white paint! So easy!

I added the rest of the phrase (“on these things”) to the bottom, freehand, and included the reference.
Then I used my staple gun to staple the board onto newly painted and distressed frame.
And here it is, on the wall in my breakfast nook, where we typically do our schooling.
One of the cool features of this frame is that the grooves act as trays for chalk!  I only had sidewalk chalk when I did this project, but you can see how easily it fits in the top “tray” (it’s white but you can still see it up top, just barely) and I stuck a pencil in the bottom tray so you could see the bottom tray too.
I love that there is a tray on the top so I can keep chalk UP and AWAY from little fingers when I don’t want them drawing.
…speaking of which, this chalkboard is nice and long, and hangs at a great height for both the mama teacher and her little students/ artists. (because all teachers know kids LOVE coming to the board to demonstrate their problem solving skills, or write their spelling words,etc).
In the picture below, you can see we have some things attached with magnets–another great feature of this D.I.Y. chalkboard.  On one hand, I’m glad I did the magnetic paint because it really adds to how I’ll be able to use my board.  On the other hand, that stuff was NOT fun to work with.  Totally toxic, took forever to mix up, and made my smooth ply surface so bumpy I had to sand it down with my power sander to get even a SOMEWHAT smooth surface for chalk-writing.  It is not slate-smooth, that’s for sure.  Also, I think in sanding it, I removed some of the mineral buildup that is needed to have a strong magnetic pull, but it does still attract magnets, so I’m pretty happy overall.  The paint definitely drove up the price of this project, since a quart was something like $20 at Home Depot.  I do have quite a bit left, though, which I could use for another project sometime.
Here is how my chalkboard looks in our breakfast nook…
I can’t wait to fill this board with pictures and words and thoughts and lists and scriptures this year! 
And I hope it will serve as a good reminder for our whole family to keep our hearts and thoughts focused upon the Lord.
Our DIY Chalkboard served us well our first year, but was never as smooth as I really wanted it (because of the magnetic paint).  SO, I popped it out of the frame, went back to Lowes and bought another smooth ($6) piece of plywood, and this time, came home, re-sanded it, then sprayed it with 3 thin coats of the same spray-on chalkboard paint.
The result?
Not good.  When I went to write on it, the chalk seemed to soak in and stain the plywood (and yes, I “primed” the entire thing with chalk before-hand which is always important to do before first using a new chalkboard).  No matter what I did, I could not get it to wipe or wash off and so my new chalkboard had a foggy white look, even when wiped clean, which was annoying.
No worries, though, I found a solution: skip the spray paint and go with a traditional brush-on chalkboard paint.
I re-sanded my board, used a foam roller to roll on a couple coats of Rust-oleum brush-on chalkboard paint, and now, I have smooth, easy-to-erase and clean chalkboard surface.

I only share all of this to tell you, if I had to do it all again, I’d skip the spray paint bottles (which are expensive) and buy the small can of brush-on chalkboard paint.  Do about 3 coats, lightly sanding and wiping down between coats and you will have a lovely, lasting chalkboard.  

Also, here is what our space now looks like:

(also, this photo was taken the week before I re-did my chalkboard {I’ve since painted over my words “THINK on these things} but I just wanted to show you how the board looks in my new improved space.  You can read all about how I organized this area here.)
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!
See you soon.

4 thoughts on “D.I.Y. Homeschool Chalkboard

  1. Crafty Homeschool Mama

    Thanks, friend! Pinterest lends endless inspiration for those old frames. So many ideas…so little time!
    Thank you for the homeschooling prayers. I am joyfully anticipating all that lies ahead this year. We start in a week!! (which also motivates me to keep going with my farmhouse table project! I need that table badly).

  2. Becki Lewis

    This looks great! I’ve bought a couple neat old frames at the thrift store too. I have some in the other room, in fact, that are just crying for a cute project. I pray that your homeschooling goes well this year!

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