Why Make a 1st Birthday Memory Chalkboard?
When we were getting ready for my older son’s first birthday, I started looking around for ways to display all of the fun moments from his first year. I wanted to do more than display the monthly photos from his first year, and I was looking for something to enable me to be a little more creative. That’s when I came across Memory Chalkboards.
Memory chalkboards are available everywhere now, both online at retailers like Wayfair and Etsy as well as in ‘brick and mortar’ stores like Target and Toys ‘r Us. If you’re looking to save a little money, consider making your own 1st Birthday Memory Chalkboard. It doesn’t take too much time or money and will be something you can display in your home for years to come (or at least until your child brings starts bringing home dates…)
You’ll Need the Following Supplies
To create your 1st birthday memory chalkboard, you’ll need the following supplies:
- a large picture frame (24 x 36 works well)
- chalkboard paint (I use Rustoleum)
- chalkboard pens (I use these as well as a white one, but you can just use white)
- a variety of pictures of your little one
- 1-inch wide painter’s tape (available at most discount or home improvement stores)
- foam rollers for painting (can be found at most discount or home improvement stores)
- paint tray (available at most discount or home improvement stores)
- X-ACTO knife (can be found online or at retailers that sell arts and crafts supplies)
- Double-sided photo tape (also available online or at retailers that sell arts and crafts supplies)
Start with a Large Picture Frame
I waited until frames were on sale at my local A.C. Moore but you can pick up a frame at most large retailers including Target and WalMart. Any size will work, but if you want enough room to add pictures to your commentary, 24″ x 36″ is best. Also, it’s best to get one that has a glass insert instead of a plastic one for this project, since you’ll be painting it with chalkboard paint which will stick better to glass.
You may choose a frame to match your decor; or in my case, I went with black as I felt that it added to the chalkboard theme and didn’t distract from the chalkboard.
Use the painter’s tape to cover the frame itself and protect it from the paint. Use large strips of the tape and overlap them. I find it’s easiest to hold the tape perpendicular to the glass, right up against the frame. Then you can press the tape against the frame where it meets the glass. Next, press the tape over the rest of the frame. Use as much tape as you feel is necessary to protect the frame as you are painting. TIP: don’t skimp on the tape – you don’t want to mess up your frame by getting paint on it. Taping a wide area will also protect against drips and splatters.
Paint the Glass in Your Picture Frame
Open your chalkboard paint and stir it well. Then, pour some into your drip tray and roll your foam roller back and forth in the paint to load your roller. Paint the glass using a W (or zig-zag) pattern. Let the paint dry at least overnight and then apply a second coat.
Now For the Fun Part – Pictures!
You may already have an idea of the moments you will want to memorialize on your 1st Birthday Memory Chalkboard, but I find it’s best to go in with an open mind. Choose the best pictures, or the ones that tell the best stories, and write your commentary to meet those photos. Here are some examples:
- First official photo – the first photo of you and your baby at the hospital
- First car ride – the trip home from the hospital
- First friend – an older sibling, family pet, etc.
- First food – note the kind of food (rice cereal? oatmeal?) and your baby’s reaction
- First holidays – who doesn’t have photos from their baby’s first Halloween, Christmas, 4th of July, etc.
Some less obvious ones:
- First swim – we had some pictures of both our sons in our backyard kiddie pool and one of them was perfect for the board)
- First time in the swing – another great photo I snapped at the playground
- First snowfall – I was really fortunate here in that I was able to get very similar pics of both my boys, wearing the same bunting, in the snow 2 years apart
For a 24 x 36 frame, you should be able to fit about 10 pictures and have enough room for some fun facts (birthdate, height, weight, favorites, etc.).
Create the Layout
If you have a birthday party theme, you can match your layout and wording to the theme. For our boys, each had a sports-themed first birthday. Our firstborn had a baseball theme. His board was titled ‘Rookie Season Highlights’ and was similar to a baseball card. It had information on his height, weight, hometown and which hand he used to bat (TBD) and throw. For our younger son, we had a football theme. His board was titled ‘Freshman Year Stats’ and had information like his height, weight, hometown and draft team (TBD).
I took the paper insert out of the frame and used it to create a draft of how the chalkboard would look. I laid out the photos on the paper and wrote the commentary on pieces of scrap paper so I could move everything around until I was happy with the layout.
Put it all Together
Lay your photos on the chalkboard surface (don’t tape them until the end – you may find yourself needing to tweak the layout a bit). Use your chalkboard pens to write your commentary around the photos. Lastly, tape your photos down to the chalkboard.
That’s it, you’re done! Now find a wonderful place to hang your new piece of artwork and admire your little one!
Do you have a creative way you displayed your child’s 1st-year memories?
Add it to the comments below, we’d love to hear about it!