Magnetic Board... With Bonus Project!

You didn't think I'd just go buy one, did you? Where's the fun in that?

Yes, I could've bought a magnetic whiteboard. But they're pretty expensive, and the white surface gets gross after you write on it a few times. I'd rather use my small portable whiteboard for writing during circle time and this big, soft-surfaced one for flannel-board type activities.

Materials Needed

• A piece of joist panning. Don't panic. Just go look in the ductwork section of Home Depot or Lowe's. You're looking for a flat piece of metal that's approximately 18" x 30". One end will have an odd sort of fold in it. It costs about $5 or $6. Watch your fingers on those sharp edges.
• 1 yard of fabric. Get something that's a medium weight in a neutral color. Avoid patterns.
• Spray glue
• Strong scissors or metal snips
• Optional: 1/4" eyelets and eyelet tool; hammer; large nail

How to Do It

1. First, use your scissors to cut off the folded edge of the metal. Save that piece for the bonus project! Then round off the corners for safety. Please, please be careful. The edges of the metal will be sharp and the pieces will have the tendency to fly around. Wear gloves and eye protection so you don't end up bleeding like I am right now.
2. Optional: If you want holes for hanging, now's the time to make them. Use a hammer and large nail to do it. Make sure you put the metal sheet over a very thick pad of newspaper or a phonebook... Or, have someone handy use a power drill with a large bit; test the bit size on scrap wood first by drilling a hole and sticking in an eyelet. (Thanks, Dad!) Make the hole slightly bigger than you think it should be.
3. Put the metal sheet on newspaper. Spray it all over with spray glue and position your cloth on top of it. (Yes, even over the holes.) Press to smooth out wrinkles. Spray glue is usually repositionable to some extent, so if there are wrinkles you should be able to lift up the cloth and fix them.
4. Trim your cloth, leaving a 1" edge around the metal. Flip the whole thing over and glue the cloth around the back. For a neater look you should start by pulling in each corner and gluing; then do the sides. You may want to use a more easy-to-control glue on the back. I used Gem-Tac.
5. Optional: Locate the holes under the cloth and carefully snip the cloth open over each one. Insert an eyelet and attach as directed by the eyelet tool instructions. If you can't get the eyelet to bend due to the thickness of the metal, you may have to use a strong adhesive like Gorilla Glue to attach it.

Variations & Tips

• Add a fancy trim with ribbon.
• If you like, make the bottom third of the board green (for land) and the rest blue (for sky). This would be perfect for storytelling of any kind.
• When you're done, you have lots of options for making figures to put on your board. You can use cardstock printouts or fun foam sheets. Just cut off a piece of magnet tape and stick it to the back of each one. You can even attach magnets to those old flannel board pieces! You can also get printable magnet "paper."

The shapes in the photo above were made out of fun foam with magnet tape on the back. They took less than five minutes to make.

Bonus Project!

Use that leftover length of metal to make a magnetic strip to put anywhere in your classroom. Glue and wrap it with the extra cloth and attach to the wall with Velcro.


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