January 17, 2012

DIY Activity Center Tutorial

I saw the idea - where else? - on Pinterest to use an oil drip pan as an activity center. With so many refrigerators not being magnetic anymore, I thought this was the perfect idea for an activity space for kids. The person who originally posted about this used it as a magnetic board just as it came, so that is a perfect and simple option, and still looks cute. You know me though - I like to complicate matters :) - so I changed it up just a bit. Here is what you'll need if you'd like to make one too.

--Oil Drip Pan (I got mine at Wal-Mart for $10)
--Chalkboard Paint (I used Martha Stewart from Michael's)
--Spray Paint
--Painter's Tape
--Moulding (optional)
--Small paper mache' box (optional)
--Magnets (optional)

1. Spray paint your drip pan if you wish. Since I was running low on spray paint, I didn't paint the side where I knew I was going to put the chalkboard paint. You'll notice there are some words embossed on one side of the pan, but I don't think it's all that noticeable once you put magnets on it.
2. Use a foam brush (or brush of your choice) to paint half of the board with chalkboard paint. Now. As you can see, I let my impatience get the best of me, and painted despite the fact that I was out of painter's tape. I do NOT have a steady hand, so the results were a little rough. That decision still haunts me.
3. Because of my mistake above, I decided to pick up a piece of wood moulding from Michael's to cover up my messy line. It was on sale for $1, and I just used a regular pair of scissors to cut it the length I needed to fit the board. Then I spray painted it the same turquoise as I'd used on the rest of the pan, and glued it down.
4. Michael's also had some of their wooden shapes on sale for 17 cents, so I picked up a few and hot glued a magnet on the back. I also added some alphabet magnets from my teaching days.

5. For the chalkboard side, I bought a little box from Hobby Lobby and added a few old stickers to it. Then I hot glued 2 magnets on the back so I could use it as a chalk holder.

And that's it! Manny absolutely loves it and it is providing lots of great entertainment. The person who originally posted about this said she used 3M tape to hang it on the wall and that worked fine. Right now, I just have it propped up in the living room until I decide where I want to put it permanently.

Happy Tuesday! :)

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  1. So fun Sarah!! I have seen a "busy board" on Pinterest that I keep thinking about making for Cooper, but it seems like a LOT of work. maybe I'll try this instead :)

  2. I love it! Such a great idea.

  3. What a great idea! I love it!

    I'd love for you to link up and share: http://tutusandteaparties.blogspot.com/2012/01/pinteresting-party-week-twenty-two.html

  4. This is perfect! Our stainless fridge doesn't hold magnets which made me sad when I wanted to buy an alphabet set. This is a great alternative.

  5. Hi Sarah, I am so glad you able to use my Pin It button tutorial! I used the button just now to pin your activity center. What a clever idea, I love it!!!!

  6. Sarah this is just perfect! Bryson would love something like this. You are so creative!!!

  7. How cute! And, it looks like Manny loves it too!

  8. As always, thanks so much for your tutorials! I am going to make one of these for my classroom!

  9. loving it!! I think I am going to try this for my 3 year old:)

  10. yay, this is so fun and so doable! thanks for the post!

  11. hey sarah! i'm thinking of making one of these for levi and i was wondering if you had any issues with the paint chipping? just curious... love how yours turned out!

  12. SO thrilled to see that you can paint these trays without affecting the magnetism. AWESOME. :D

  13. Brilliant! I also along with Kimberley would like to know if the paint scratches or chips. I'm going to make one for my art room for inspiration ideas, sketches, color wheel etc..

    1. Hi there! It's been over a year and ours hasn't scratched or chipped at all basically. Still in great condition!


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