All Things Chalkboard

From last year’s school planning archives because these basics still work well with rising 8th, 7th, 4th, K and soon-he’ll-be-a-four-year-old…

I love chalkboards. I love chalkboards. I love chalkboards.

And even though right after our school year ended, we went through a rather reluctant classroom revamp, the classroom still needed attention. Before getting any further into the nitty gritty of preparing Tapestry of Grace, setting up notebooks, purging more – we needed to really assess the bones. The real set up of our workspaces. I needed to switch things around as a teacher. Plus meet the growing needs of upcoming 7th, 6th, 3rd, K4 and a before-we-know-it-he’ll be-a-three-year-old (last year).

Our converted living room is our school room.

Over breakfast on Friday, July 2nd, Hodgepodgedad and I talked about what to focus on the rest of our weekend. He had some extra time off work. And we’d made a list of updates we’d like to do throughout the house. (Made use of the road trip time talking through lots of goals. See Mama on Vacation: Planning and Goal Setting). With the new school year coming up quickly, we decided on the classroom.

We addressed each of the problems with solutions:

Bulleteldest girl needs her own space to work. Sharing the desk with her brother didn’t work very well last year. Her own desk in her room would be great. On a recent trip to IKEA, we’d seen some affordable corner desks that would fit in the small space of her bedroom. She has a birthday coming up! That way…

Bulletrising third grader could use the desk space and storage for her workboxes. She would share the nice stretch of desk with her brother, rising 6th grader.

But what about this desk – the focus of our work surface… what if we painted the top with chalkboard paint??? Wouldn’t that solve the stray marks problem?

One of Hodgepodgedad’s first jobs was working as a paint salesman at Sears. He knows all about paint and proceeded to pull down the classroom shelves and repaint them as well. Fresh coats of white paint. They are beautiful!

By that night the second coat was dry on the desktop, he’d painted the bottom storage white and we had a brand new desk!

He drew a road with chalk and added some Cars characters to surprise everyone the next morning.

A chalkboard desktop on the desk my brother built! Plenty of storage for stacking workboxes below.

BulletScience. While Hodgepodgedad painted, I enlisted the help of the children in moving books. We’d found out over last year that we often pulled out our science books right after lunch. Sometimes headed out the back door to do Outdoor Hour Challenges. Wouldn’t a bookcase dedicated to our Science studies make things easier? This bookcase is in the family room, right next to our kitchen table.

More details in arranging Nature binders in Outdoor Hour: Summer Tree Study.

BulletHistory/Tapestry. At the same time we worked on putting History books for our Tapestry studies on a matching bookcase on the other side of the room. The same ideas applied here. Tapestry binders will find their home on the bottom shelf. Our library books for the week’s study can find a spot here. Just like our science studies, we often found ourselves in the family room reading aloud our Tapestry books and working on projects together. Now all our books and binders would be where we needed them. And since we also do Arts & Activities with Tapestry

BulletArt. In wanting to say yes to a mess, we found that our art supplies were scattered all over. Some in the classroom, some in the laundry room, some in the kitchen cabinet. So I set about pulling it all out. And decided that all art supplies should be kept over easily-cleaned surfaces like linoleum! So, this organizer in the laundry room – right off the kitchen – was made into the art wall. We never put canned foods in there as originally intended.

I haven’t made them yet, but the top two shelves will have a sign that says ASK FIRST :) Smocks are on the bottom shelf.

BulletThe big box of pastels? (Hodgepodgedad found they had stained the music room carpet :( We put them right where we use them. In the storage right under our kitchen table. DUH! That solution was right in front of me all along! Now they are ready when we need them!

Back to the classroom…

BulletPencils. How many times is Math stalled due to lack of a pencil or a proper eraser? These sweet buckets we’ve had since our eldest two were toddling. They were stacked someplace. Now they are a solution. Hodgepodgedad used cup hooks to put them within easy reach right above the new chalkboard desk.

BulletMore chalkboards. I told you I am addicted. So then my three, beloved magnetic chalkboards made their way into the classroom.

It’s really where they should have been all along. Now each of the younger two have their own just-the-right-size desk with a chalkboard right above. And they each are on either end of the big chalkboard desk.

The third chalkboard greets our students in the foyer that adjoins the classroom (our classroom is really supposed to be the living room). We are aiming to commit to memory this verse my friend little sanctuary put as her status on Facebook last week.

BulletGeography. It’s one of those things I need to work in a bit more in our studies. And here’s a visual we can’t miss.

Nana got these on Ebay for us a couple of years ago. We hadn’t figured out how to use them until we decided, as she had suggested, why not as window treatments? And what a wonderful history discussion for Year 4 of Tapestry. This map has to be at least 20 years old since it still has U.S.S.R. across the top.

BulletReplacement curtains. Our curtains, which are really just white, flat sheets, were a bit torn, worn and magic marker stained. So we were able to replace the tattered with these that we moved for the maps!

Need a place to keep all those state fair, homeschool expo and participation ribbons? Use them as a classroom curtain topper. (Shh. Don’t tell Hodgepodgedad – we just used the stapler to keep the ribbons up  – it’s just cheap, flat sheets).

BulletService Opportunities an upgrade. We made one more addition with our chalkboard paint. Something most practical I am so excited about. Hodgepodgedad shares about it in Service Opportunities: An Upgrade.

**A huge thank you to my husband for all of this labor. What a guy I am so grateful for! He leads this family and makes all this homeschooling possible**

A very full summer week! And yes, I am berserk for chalkboards.

Joining in the School Hop with Heart of the Matter!



  1. 1


    My second child recently graduated, I have been homeschooling for 16 years, and sometimes I look at my 4 year old and wonder where am I going to find the energy to do this for another 13 years – and then I visit your site and get excited about homeschooling all over again! Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your home school! I love the map window coverings and the all of the chalk board ideas. And I think I might be less exhausted if I put up lots of “ask first” signs around the house. 😉

    • 2


      Alea, I need to sit by you for a spell, learn from your 16 years experience! Thank you for your kind words. You do know, that ‘ask first’ signs are not a guarantee… :)

  2. 6


    Love all your creativity. The pails hanging for pencils is awesome! We also use maps for window treatments :)
    Stopping by from the apologia blog

  3. 7


    Fabulous! Love the roller-shade maps! And the chalkboards are fun – but I’ve always hated chalkboards because I’m allergic to the standard chalk; contributed to getting bronchitis EVERY SINGLE YEAR throughout elementary school. No fun.

    But back to your school room; it looks like a delightful place to learn! And I still want to sneak in one day for one of Nana’s pastel lessons. 😉

  4. 8


    I love your world maps and chalk boards, I think I’ve said that before! He did such a great job on the re-arrange last year! I too used photos from last year, and took fresh shots of the table this year. Excited for the adventure to continue!

  5. 10


    I love love love the antiqued mantel with the pencil buckets. I love chalkboard paint to. I painted the table top of our school table. I also love your pull down window shade maps. I saw that idea on another site and really want to do it but our current school space doesn’t have a window. Aren’t those wire racks the BEST I use them for my scrapbook supplies right now. GREAT space! Oh and I love the antique desk too!

  6. 14


    Wow! Great job! So beautiful! I love that shelf above your desk and have just been itching to use chalkboard paint! I do now believe that urge is much worse! Have a great year!


  7. 16


    Loving those hanging buckets! I never thought about maps for the window shades. That would be perfect in our office (where we keep school stuff), because the window is near the cat box and I don’t dare put curtains there anyway. :)

  8. 21


    Wow! A place for everything and everything in its’ place! I love Ikea. I really love the chalkboard pained desks. Great idea. Great photos, too!

  9. 23


    I love the idea of chalkboard paint on the table top! I also love your service opportunities ideas – I think I am going to borrow this idea!

  10. 24


    Howdy, I normally come check you out from Weekly Wrap Up…I love your room! I pinned the Maps as drapes because that is simply brilliant! You’ve done a wonderful job I hope you just love it! Kyle

  11. 25


    Thank you all ladies! Frugal is the way to go. Cheap, plain sheets for curtains. And the chalkboard paint goes a long way and is not that expensive :) Appreciate you stopping by our school room.

  12. 26


    Ok, you just gave me 2 AWESOME ideas for maximizing space in our tiny schoolroom! First off, can you tell me the brand of the chalkboard paint and where to purchase it? That is awesome! Second, putting the maps on roll-up window treatments is a great idea, I love it! Can you tell me where you got the shades that are behind the maps and how you attached the maps to them? GENIUS!

    • 28


      Jennifer – it is quite a lengthy post – I can see why it would be easy to miss the chalkboard paint :) The maps (shades) are actual, real, scroll up type from a 6th grade classroom. My mother bought them on eBay. So my guess is to do an eBay search. As far as mounting the maps, my husband bought a certain type of bracket from Home Depot and mounted them with an electric screw driver. I hope that helps some? I could take a photo of the bracket if that might help? Just let me know if I need to clarify further.

  13. 31

    Heather says

    I love your homeschool space! We live in a small apt. so we use just about every room for homeschool supplies. We have bookshelves in every room, even the hall. The tiny bathroom is the only room that escapes our schooling madness. Lol I would love to have a space just for school. I love your art shelf, I am going to try to do something like that here. I’m always looking for more storage solutions that we can take down when we move one day. Thanks for inspiring me.

  14. 33


    Hi from a homeschooling family from Manila, Philippines! Thank you for posting those pictures. I guess my husband and i are neat freaks, want everything in their proper places but I think we’re asking too much from our 8 year old and 5 year old 😉
    Lots of ideas we picked up from you especially the art supplies hanger and the chalkboard desk. Why didn’t I think of that? Love it, thanks!

  15. 35


    Came across this post as I am looking ahead to next school year.
    Love the way you broke down your ‘zones’ and addressed systematically addressed your needs.
    Has the room functioned this school year as you had hoped and intended?

  16. 37

    Kathy says

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the maps as window shades!!!! We are currently converting our 2 car garage into another room and will be setting up school in there as part office, part school room, part playroom. We have 2 windows on the wall where the desks are planned to be so it should work perfectly! (If I can get the Mister to agree). Thanks for sharing and I will certainly be following you! Great ideas!

  17. 39

    grace says

    Tricia, I stumbled upon your blog (not sure how :-) and immediately signed up to follow you! Love reading it (from what I read so far :-) — especially this post, it’s so real and you are not trying to impress other homeschoolers moms out-there that you got everything under control – that your homeschool room is meticulous and perfect and organized (well they are organized) but they are real and not made up :-) Also, I especially love the art lessons … I am starting teaching a couple kids art lessons and very nervous. They want to do it for hour and a half .. what am I going to do art in that long period of time? My son can finish a drawing in 10 min .. hah! We’ll see, maybe several projects together but I really love the pastels ideas! Thank you for sharing with us and Nana is just so precious! :-) Have a blessed day and enjoy your weekend with your family.

    • 40


      Grace – thank you so much for your sweet comment! I will surely pass along your compliments to Nana. She and I will be sharing 10 Days of You Can Be An Artist in about a week. I hope that will give you some ideas for your lessons. You probably know this but my best advice is to plan around a theme – then have plenty of projects. Here’s a link to my art Pinterest board where I’ve gathered lots of ideas!

  18. 41

    Hope says

    Just curious, where did you find the wooden desks? They would be perfect for my boys, who are all left handed!

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