Chalkboards are just fun, not to mention great fine motor and pre-writing practice. The only thing not to love about chalkboards is the chalk dust, so move it outside where you don’t have to worry about it!
- A chalkboard (I found mine at Hobby Lobby for just under $15)
- Acrylic Craft Paint
- Clear Varnish
- Paintbrushes for each color of paint
- Painter’s Tape
Place painter’s tape around the frame of the board and line with scrap paper or newspaper. Protect your kids’ clothes (and your own as I found out the hard way!) since you should not be using washable kids’ paint. Even when the washable paint on wood is dry, my experience is that the colors start to blend together as you brush on the clear coat.
Choose colors, or just choose all the colors as my kids did. :)
The only instruction I gave in painting was that they just needed to cover all the wood and not paint over another color.
When it was dry, which doesn’t take long at all, brush on a clear varnish to protect the frame from the outdoor weather. Mount the chalkboard using the hardware that came with it. If you are not mounting it to wood, I have had good luck with these Command velcro strips. We mounted it on the back of a climbing wall on the play set. You could use a fence, deck railings, or side of a shed if you don’t have a play set that would work.
I just used a Command hook to hang a metal bucket with chalk and erasers next to the chalkboard. All three kiddos, ages 18 months to 4 years, use it every time we are outside!
When possible, I love to integrate easy learning activities into what we are already doing. If I present it as a challenge, I find that the big sisters are more excited and open to trying these chalkboard learning activities:
- Number Challenge: Write a number and ask your child to draw that many of anything they want. Smiley faces, snakes, and balloons are the favorites here since they are easy to draw!
- Pop the Balloons: Show your child how to draw big balloons all over the board. Write a number, letter, or sight word in each balloon. Ask your child to call out what is in the balloon and then pop it by erasing it.
- Blast it: Write what your child is working on all over the chalkboard. It might be shapes, letters, numbers, or sight words. Let your child use a spray bottle, squirt gun, or rubber bath toy to blast it with water after they call it out.
- Spot it: Write their name, address, phone number or just numbers or the alphabet in order on the board. Ask your child to close their eyes while you erase one letter or digit. Can you spot what’s missing?
- Draw & Label: Let your child draw anything they want, then work with them to label the drawing. “You drew a puppy? He’s cute! What do you think puppy starts with? What other sounds do you hear in puppy?” Keep it casual, but talk about the sounds with them as you label the different things in their drawing.