I recently acquired an awesome train table from a tag sale (for twenty bucks! Woohoo!) Overall, it was in great shape, but it had been well loved and the top was looking pretty worn out. Instead of writing it off or living with the chipped and faded surface, I decided to give the whole thing a couple coats of chalkboard paint-and now it looks amazing and it’s functional!
You can easily make your own chalkboard activity table!
Just paint the surface of any child sized table, or even a coffee table with chalkboard paint. The can of paint I had suggested using a very smooth foam roller with the paint, but for this project I used a brush and I was pleased with the results. Once the paint dries (give it at least 24 hours!) make sure to “season it” by rubbing the whole thing evenly with the side of a piece of chalk and then erasing it. Otherwise, whatever you write first won’t properly erase.
If you don’t want to take the time to make your own chalkboard activity table, you could, of course, always buy one as well.
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What’s so great about having a chalkboard activity table?
Obviously, you could just use this as a play table- for trains, blocks, cars, etc. You could also just use it for drawing with chalk. However, I’m most interested in combining the two- the 2D drawings and the 3D toys. That’s a lot of dimensions of possibility!
Here are some ideas;
#1- Make a small world
The original surface of the table had images of mountains, rivers, grassy areas, etc. What’s fun about the chalkboard surface is that your child can be creative and create their own world to match their toys and ideas! You can draw ponds, dirt, grass, trails, etc, then add blocks and other toys to create whatever environment you want.
Pictured: The Safari Farm Babies Toob.
#2- Draw roads for cars
Similar to #1, but more specific. Vehicle-loving kids will have a blast drawing their own network of roads, highways and parking lots. Combined with block houses or castles, or a train set, there are a million ways to play! Bonus points if you recreate the roads and landmarks in your own neighborhood for your kids to navigate.
#3- Play-dough prompts
The kindergarten teacher in me can’t resist turning everything into an opportunity for learning. You can use chalk to write numbers, letters, or sight words, and have your child try to create them with play-dough. Similarly, you could write out simple math problems and have your child use pieces of play-dough or small toys to figure out the answer.
The playdough here was from our “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” Play-Dough Activity. You can find my recipe for play-dough here: Pumpkin Spice Play-Dough Cupcakes
#4- Make shape puzzles with blocks
We used to do something similar in my kindergarten math curriculum- we called them block “footprints.” Take a block- or several- and outline them on the table. Challenge your child to match the blocks to the footprints. For an added challenge, they can try to build a whole structure within the outline.
In the picture- our favorite textured foam blocks.
For another way to help your child learn shapes, make sure to check out Washi SHAPES! Free printable Reader!
You can use chalk to draw colors or shapes on the table, then challenge your child to find things that fit into that category. This is another idea with endless possibilities. Let your child come up with categories, and see where they go! You could also draw a giant venn diagram and teach about similarities and differences.
A chalkboard play table is bound to be a lot of fun!
Home Stories A-Z has a great idea to play board game on a chalkboard table and use chalk to keep score (check it out here.) There’s a great post here from “Ikea Hackers” about how to make a chalkboard art table with an attached roll of paper.
What else would you do with a chalkboard activity table?
Leave a comment and let me know!
For another amazing and multifunctional play table, don’t miss my EASY DIY 2-in-1 Light Table and Sensory Bin! This chalkboard table would also be a great match for a black light play center. Find out more here: 5 Ways Black Lights Make Learning Awesome!
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