Family travel blogger Jessica Bowers (suitcasesandsippycups.com) made a chalkboard-fabric map so that her kids could chart their progress on long road trips. "It's so versatile," she explains. "It rolls up very nicely but can easily be unrolled to explore geography whenever we want." The states are drawn using a jigsaw puzzle for a template.
To make one, you will need:
- 1 yard of chalkboard fabric (available at fabric stores or online at joann.com)
- Yardstick or straightedge
- Melissa and Doug's U.S.A. Map Floor Puzzle (the 2- by 3-foot size and individual state pieces make this an ideal template; $12.99, melissaanddoug.com)
- White paint pen (medium thickness)
- Rubber letter stamps (optional)
- 1-inch eyelets and application tool (optional)
- Chalk markers or chalk
- Trim the chalkboard fabric into a roughly 28- by 36-inch rectangle, using the yardstick or straightedge as a guide.
- Using the various puzzle pieces as templates, trace the states with the pencil onto the fabric. Some East Coast states will require freehand drawing. If you don't have the puzzle, you can make paper templates by tracing the state outlines of a similar-size map.
- Trace the pencil outlines with the paint pen. Work from top to bottom and left to right (if you're right-handed) to avoid smudging your work.
- Add a title. We used rubber letter stamps inked with the paint pen.
- Attach eyelets for hanging your map, if you like. Eyelets and application tools (with instructions for their use) are available at craft and fabric stores.
- To write on or color your map, consider using chalk markers instead of chalk for more durability. The markers are dust-free and erase easily with a damp cloth.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of FamilyFun.