Project - School Room: Map of the US (tutorial)
Project:2x3' wall map of the US
This year in home-school, we are going to be doing "Adventures" (with My Father's World) and we will be spending the whole year studying American History. I am so excited! We needed a wall map of the US, but when I began looking for maps, all of the ones I found at big office stores had WAY too much information on them for my children (3rd grade on down). I really just wanted them to see each state, and maybe the capitol.
I found just the thing at World Market (here) on sale for $63.99. That's a lot of money when you know you can do it yourself for less than $10, a little time, and a lot of satisfaction!
www.mrprintables.com that was exactly what I was looking for (here) - just states and capitols - and FREE! I also liked the narrow lettering font, since I wanted the full name of the states (not just the abbreviation).
Staples print it as a 2 x 3' Engineering Print, for just $3.59. (go to their website, and look for "printing services". Then click on any links that say "engineering prints" - it's super easy.) They had it printed out for me and waiting just a few hours later.
I pulled a bunch of old decking out of our scrap pile, my (very patient) man ran them through his saw (to cut them in half width-wise). I think lumber stores have thin (pine?) fencing boards that would work great too, and are pretty cheap, if you don't have a scrap pile to pull from. You can also ask them to cut them to the right length for you.
After a quick lesson on how to use his (very powerful) Bosch saw, I lined them up and cut them to the desired length (approx. 3 feet) - and boy did I feel like superwoman! I made the edges look worn by cutting a little off in random patterns.
We used these Simpson Strong-Tie Mending Plates (from Home Depot) over the joints to attach the boards together. And are they wonderful! On previous projects we connected the boards with other boards, but this was so easy - I even hammered a few. As we used them, we realized we would have only needed the narrower ones - they were plenty strong (wide ones were $.69, narrower ones $.59).
And here they are, ready for paint.
I painted on a coat of primer, using some I already had, and being sure to get in all the little cracks and holes - these are old boards, remember? (Side-note: buy yourself a can of Kilz primer - you will use it for everything!)
Then I gave it 2 coats of black paint, in eggshell finish that I pulled off our garage shelf. (again, a staple for many projects!) Make sure you let it fully dry between coats.
Using a flat head screwdriver, I pressed down slightly with my pointer finger as I "traced" the border of the US and the outlines of the States with the edge of the screwdriver. This is why it's good to have really soft wood! Then I marked where the capitols (stars) were supposed to go. I started out by making a small star, and then gave that up (it was too time-consuming) and made a dot with my screwdriver. I'm all about fast, remember. Lots of kids = limited time for projects!
Pouring a small amount of white acrylic paint onto a disposable plate and using a small paintbrush, I painted in the outlines of the states. Don't be scared - it's much easier than it looks. Your traced outline provides a nice ditch for your paint to follow.
Once that was done, I used a scrap of heavy sandpaper to rough up the edges. I like the way the white primer shows through a bit in spots. I was able to bend the boards along the joints, and sand a little along the edges, too.
We hung it in our school room last night, by using 2 long screws and screwing directly through the front of the wood, into the stud behind the wall. (I'm all about fast, remember). Then I dabbed each screw head with a bit of black paint. Now you don't even see it.
I just love the way it turned out, don't you? Even if you don't have a school room, I think these would make adorable wall art in a boy's room or a family room.
Now, go and make yourself one. Or two. And be sure to let me know if you do. I'd love to see pictures.