Our blackboard wall used to feature a drawing of the two older boys by our artist friends (A side note, our friends recently illustrated some prints and I am loving them! You can see them here, and they are available for purchase). I loved the picture very much, but because it was drawn in chalk, it was getting smudged out by the boys. So recently, I sadly took a wet rag and gave the wall a clean, and decided to use the wall for our learning efforts.
Since Junior J wanted to learn more about the solar system this week, I drew up the solar system on the wall one night. The boys were delighted, and spent some time examining the planets.
Then as we continued with our readings, Junior J started adding things to the wall. He asked for chalk to draw in the red spot for Jupiter. I was busy one day with baby, and I asked him to add in the asteroid belt. He couldn't remember the location of the belt, so he went off to flip his books, and I came back to see a beautiful belt extending across the entire wall!
He added various moons, he wrote in the diameter of the planets. He added rings to Uranus. He learnt what "km" meant. Watching him work was wonderful: the focus and concentration, his attempts to write even though he still mixes up his small letters and capitals.
Junior J is a visual learner, just like me, so I think having a huge "canvas" to draw on works for him, and it helps him to "see" facts. Lil J is different though, and tends towards the auditory and kinesthetic side. So I'll have to find other ways to engage him (just today we pretended he was the sun and we orbited a globe around him to learn about night and day!).
I'm hoping we'll be able to continue using this board for our lessons, so stay tuned for more blackboard drawings in the future!
I've gotten quite a few questions about our blackboard wall, so I thought I'd just post answers to some FAQ here:
1. How did you do this wall?
We got our contractor to paint the wall using blackboard paint when we were renovating our home a year ago. The paint was from Art Friend (by Martha Stewart, which I think comes in other colours like grey and pink), and I think there is also a spray version. I've also seen adhesive sheets that can be stuck onto the wall, if you are not keen on paint.
2. What about the mess? Is it easy to keep clean?
So far, the kids only get chalk when we head to the playground. I've tried letting them use chalk previously at home, but right now Lil J's idea of drawing with chalk is vigorously rubbing the chalk until everything crumbles, then sweeping the chalk dust everywhere!
So only Junior J gets chalk to work on this wall, and sometimes Lil J gets to draw bits and bobs, but he's always under supervision. The dust generated is minimal, and Junior J has to wipe up the chalkdust on the floor after he's done with the wall. Cleaning the wall is easy: A wet rag does the trick pretty quickly.
3. Why a blackboard? Why not a whiteboard, or just mahjong paper?
I like the fact that the wall gives us a whole lot more working surface compared to mahjong paper, so you can add more details. At the end of each week, we plan to photograph the finished work, and start on a new topic. This way we don't use up paper, and don't have to decide what to do with the finished work.
I prefer the look of chalk on blackboards compared to whiteboards, and I'm not too keen on using markers which tend to have fumes. Chalk is also easier to wash off clothing and furniture compared to markers!