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You Want Me To Do WHAT?!

September 20, 2010

By Sarena James

The very thought of a nine foot black wall center the kitchen area would cause most people to ask exactly what Raphael asked me, “Are you serious?


We were looking to create a central learning space for our children that would both inspire and celebrate their individuality; a simple space that would spark their imagination to explore freely. Where could they all gather yet have separate areas? Hmmm. A black wall seemed appropriate, and two quarts of chalkboard paint would certainly get the job done.   

One Friday at midnight we started painting the ivory colored wall.  Three broad strokes later we both wondered who we would jokingly fault if this project went completely wrong!  Saturdays’ sun shed light on a smooth black surface, like that of freshly poured tar on a newly paved road. “Wow, did we just paint the entire kitchen wall black? ” We anxiously waited for the children to wake up so we could show them what mommy and daddy had done while unsupervised by them.  

Wow, did we just paint the entire kitchen wall black?”

Our oldest one was the first to see the wall and she was sure we had collectively lost our minds until we handed her a lime green piece of chalk and said, “Here, draw.” One big heart with The Jonas Brothers written in the center, and she was sold on our risky idea!  Our littlest one, who appreciates the smallest of surprises, was overjoyed by the Yes Wall.  “Yes sweetie, this is a wall you can actually draw on without upsetting mommy and daddy!”

Our son, however, was not as easily impressed. He circled the area several times not quite trusting such a dramatic change.  At his pace, he placed his hand on the wall and quickly removed it to see what, if anything would happen. Feeling safer, he picked up a piece of chalk and drew one big circle. Then he looked at us as if to say, “Is this the idea we’re going for here?”  That was over a year ago, and hardly a day has passed without him excitedly approaching the wall.

The oversized chalkboard wall has allowed us to reinforce most of the work and activities that Grant does at school. We write our names, the alphabet, the numbers 1- 10, and draw shapes almost every day.  It has also helped with his pre-writing strokes and enhanced his fine motor skills. Finding what works isn’t always obvious, nor does it always come with approved popularity.  But if it works for your family, make no apologies for it!

 Maybe people look at you sideways. Maybe they call you crazy, but have you found an unorthodox approach to your family’s situation that is a perfect fit?  We want to know about it.  Introduce us to your “Bright Idea” by leaving a comment below.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Aimee Tilley permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:32 pm

    I just painted a chalkboard wall in our kitchen this weekend! I was very scared of the black, but the reaction of my eight and six year old completely outweighed any apprehension I felt. I am enjoying my ‘cool Mom’ status – however fleeting it may be! 🙂

  2. September 20, 2010 9:50 am

    This is a wonderful idea! We did this in my son’s room and it’s great to write homework assignments and even little reminders (brush your teeth, etc) as well as fun things like ” It’s costs a nickel to use the toilet in this room” .

    One of the things that I think kids will remember most from the childhoods are the things that are sort of out of the ordinary. Imagine their friends’ reactions when they tell them ” Oh yeah, write on the wall in our kitchen!” Trust me, this will be a story they tell their own kids too!

    Love it! (PS also in my son’s room we have magnetic paint under the chalkboard paint and dry erase paint on the closet doors so you can write there too!)

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