Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Nonfiction Roundup: MakerSpace Edition

Today I’m sharing with you some of the new nonfiction that I’m loving for Teen MakerSpace and making ideas. As you know, I believe making is a combination of traditional arts and crafts or technology, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. There are lots of great titles out there. And when it comes to making with teens, I have been known to find inspiration in books that are geared and marketed for younger kids even, because you can find inspiration anywhere and just adapt the activities accordingly. So here are some fun titles that I am exploring as we speak. Have fun making!

TPiB: DIY Chalkboard Fun

completebookofchalkboardletteringWe’ve all seen pictures of some of the amazing chalkboard signs outside of book stores with their witty saying about reading. I give everyone bonus points if they make a Tardis reference because I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. Plus, the Tardis is just cool.

Workman Publishing has a great book that will help us all learn the fine art of creative chalkboards called The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering: Create and Develop Your Own Style (by Valerie McKeehan). They sent me a copy in the mail and it will come as no surprise to you to hear that The Teen immediately grabbed this one and started playing with it. And since we were in full locker craft mode, we came up with a couple of ways to make our own chalkboards so that we can practice the fine art of chalkboard lettering, though I should point out that there is in fact a chalkboard or two inside the book itself provided for your practice needs. The book is amazing and is a lot of fun, so do check it out.

The main thing you are going to need for this craft is, of course, a chalkboard surface. A simple walk around the craft store and you will find that you have a lot of options. There are chalkboards that you can glue onto other surfaces, there are chalkboard stickers and there is chalkboard paint. For our purposes we used chalkboard paint. And because I’m investigating making chalkboards in a teen craft setting, my goal is both less expensive and easier to make. If you are making a chalkboard for yourself and have a little more money to spend then there are no limits to how creative you can be.

Chalkboard #1



  • A blank canvas (purchased at Michael’s)
  • Chalkboard spray paint
  • Duct tape
  • Chalk

This version was actually pretty easy to make. We simply spray painted our canvas with the chalkboard paint and waited for it to dry. I recommend using a couple of coats, which means drying in between coats. We had some other chalkboards around so we practiced our lettering using the book while we waited for the paint to dry.

We then decorated our chalkboard and made boarders, etc. with our duct tape. Pretty simple but satisfying.

Chalkboard #2



  • Old picture frame (purchased at a thrift store for a quarter)
  • Spray paint (any color)
  • Chalkboard spray paint
  • Matte board
  • Markers, etc. to decorate the painted frame

To prep our project, we first took our frame apart. You can safely discard the glass. We then spray painted our frames our color of choice, in the example above blue. After drying you can use sharpies to draw doodles on the frame if you would like.

To make the chalkboard, you first need to cut a piece of matte board the size of frame so that it fits inside. Then give it a couple of coats of chalkboard paint, allowing the paint to dry fully in between each coat. When your chalkboard is dry you simply put the frame back together with the chalkboard inside.

We had a lot of fun making these and they were a big hit. Together with the book you can do some fun chalkboard things. If you make a bigger chalkboard using a larger frame that compliments your teen area you can create a fun space for your teen area as well to do signage and fun displays.

About the Book:

Hardback, 176 pages  (also available in Electronic book text )

ISBN: 9780761186113 (0761186115)
Published by Workman Publishing
Book provided by the publisher
Ubiquitous at boutiques and cafés, on Etsy and Pinterest, in stationery and home decor, the art of chalk lettering is hotter than ever. Valerie McKeehan, an Etsy standout whose work has been featured in magazines and websites from Good Housekeeping to RealSimple.com, teaches us everything we need to know to create gorgeous hand-drawn chalk designs. The book is also a practice space, with three foldout “chalkboards”—the inside cover and foldout back cover are lined with blackboard paper.In over 60 lessons, learn the ABCs of lettering (literally) and basic styles: serif, sans serif, and script. Next, how to lay out a design, combine various styles into one cohesive piece, add shadows and dimension. Master more advanced letter styles, from faceted to ribbon to “vintage circus.” Use banners, borders, flourishes. And finally, 12 projects to show off your newfound skills: including a Winter Wonderland Snow Globe; a smartphone-themed birthday card to text friends and family; a one-of-a-kind party invitation to create, photograph, and mail; and a bake sale sign guaranteed to put everyone who sees it in the mood for a cupcake!