Chalkboard Memo Board – The Time I Made a 4th Grade Teacher Use a Power Tool

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Before the end of the school year a REALLY GOOD friend of mine asked if I would give a talk in her daughter’s class about what I do for a living. I hemmed and hawed because I rarely have the free time. But, the main reason I was hesitant was because I didn’t know how to talk to 4th graders about what I do. Saying I’m a blogger is something that is hard for me to vocalize. “I write a blog” sounds simple and easy. But, in actuality, I do so many other things to make this blog a reality. Just a few of my job descriptions are: writer, photographer, builder, crafter, teacher, photo editor, business woman, manager, social media coordinator, graphic designer, web designer and all around handy girl! How could I explain all of that to the students?

Suddenly, an idea hit me! I would waltz into that classroom and use my platform to break down the stereotypes about women and handy people within 30 minutes (or less!) Then I’d empower the 4th grade students by letting them build their own chalkboard memo board AND use a power tool! Lofty goals, but I felt sure I could do it. Little did I know that the students wouldn’t be the only one empowered.

The quiz:

I started out by talking to the kids about what a handy person is. They shared terms that fit the definition of a handy person: fixes things, builder, carpenter, plumber, woodworker, and home improvement specialist. Then I showed them a slide presentation and gave the kids a quiz asking them to tell me which of these people are handy:

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

I showed them one picture at a time and as expected, they got all of the answers wrong.

The answers:

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Amy Matthews, Sandra the Sawdust Girl and Rob VanWinkle aka Vanilla Ice are the handy people. Every child chose Tim & Al from Home Improvement as the only handy people in the bunch. How did you do on the quiz? The kids and I talked about judging a person by their looks and how inaccurate that can be. It was a powerful moment and I hope they remember this lesson as they grow up.

We briefly discussed what I do for a living, but it was time to stop the lecture and time to let the kids build! And USE A POWER TOOL! Woot!


The project:

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

The task was to let everyone build a small chalkboard memo board. I prepped the boards ahead of time to give the kids more time to decorate and use the nail gun.

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

The kids were really wonderful! They were excellent listeners and all showed great DIY skills.

Materials per memo board:



DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

To save time, I pre-painted and drilled holes in the boards. If you have more time, you can have the kids help with these steps.

Hand sand the plywood until smooth. Paint one coat of chalkboard paint on the plywood.

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

After the first coat dries, sand lightly and paint a second coat.

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Pre-drill holes on a short edge of the plywood for the screw eyes (choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw eye width.)

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Let the Kids Take Over:

Decorate the boards with washi tape.

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Be sure to poke your screw eyes through the washi tape and into the pre-drilled  hole immediately after you cover it (or you might have a hard time finding it later.)

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Hand thread the screw eyes into the holes, use pliers to help tighten the screw eyes. Tie the twine/rope through the screw eyes and cut off the excess (if using polypropylene/nylon rope you need to singe the edges or glue them to keep the knot from slipping out.)

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Time to secure the moulding piece. If you don’t have a finish nailer, you can use construction glue or pre-drill small holes and hammer brad nails into the holes. (The moulding doesn’t have to hold a lot of weight, it just makes a nice spot to store chalk or to slip a picture into.)

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Each child came up one by one and I discussed what we were going to do. Then they put on their eye protection and hearing protection. I held the nail gun as the kids pulled the trigger. My friend’s daughter told her later that it was EPIC using the nail gun! 😉

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

At the beginning of the project, I asked the teacher if she wanted to put together a memo board. She gladly took one to work on. After all the kids had come up to secure their moulding onto the board, she came up and set her board on the work bench. She told me I could go ahead and nail it for her. Ha! You know that wasn’t going to fly with me! I told her, “Every one of your students came up here and used the nail gun. You too can do this!” And I showed her how to hold the nail gun and fire the trigger. Of course, she rocked it! 😉

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

It was such a fun experience. I hope all the kids (and the teacher) learned something that day.

Each child got to take home a chalkboard memo board. Hopefully it will help them get organized for the start of school!

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl


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PHGFancySignDisclosure: As a #LowesCreator, I was provided with a Lowe’s gift card to purchase supplies for this post. I was not told what to write. All ideas and words are my own.


  1. What a great idea and good for you for doing this despite your initial reservations! I wish someone like you had come into my school when i was a kid – back then we still had the old “girls study home-ec and boys study shop” mentality. Thankfully its never too late to learn :)

    • Thanks Dale. I agree, I wish someone had been to my school growing up too ;-). And I am still kicking myself today for having taken “relationships” in high school instead of shop classes. But, I guess maybe it helped since I’m still with the same guy 24 years later ;-).

  2. Great project and a great lesson!

  3. Love the post Brittany !

  4. I would have got your quiz wrong.. I forgot about the Vanilla Ice Project! (But I did know the other two fantastic DIY’rs!)

  5. Molly Evans says:

    Brittany, I mostly lurk but wanted you to tell you thank you — you’re inspiring, grounded, and make the world a much better place each and every day. Nice job for the kids, and thank you for your blog. Know it can’t be easy . . . but yours is on a short list of my must reads through the week. You’re pretty terrific! :-) Have a great weekend! MKE

  6. Hi…can you buy precut plywood like that? and if so…do they sell it in craft stores?

    • Sylvia, I’ve seen wood plaques at craft stores. You could use that, but it might be harder to get the screw eyes in because the edges are routed. Alternatively, Lowe’s sells 2′ x 2′ pieces of plywood and you can ask them to cut it down for you.

  7. Those kids are so so lucky! You did a fabulous & I mean FABULOUS job!

  8. That is awesome!! Those kids are lucky they got to see you that day. I bet you influenced and inspired more than one of them. You have inspired me to maybe do something similar at my kids’ new school…. hmmm, the wheels are turning now…

  9. Love you blog! But I have to let you know the intel pop up ad pops up so frequently it’s making the reading experience not much fun. Are you able to fix it?

    • Lauren,

      Thank you so much for letting me know! I need to find out where it’s coming from. Is it one of those questionnaire pop ups? Are you reading on a phone, tablet or computer? Any info you can give me would be super helpful. I despise pop up ads and have repeatedly told my advertisers they can not use them!

  10. Teachers with power tools, that’s awesome! And Vanilla Ice, who would have thought…
    I’m running a power tool school next month, should be interesting to see how it goes.

  11. What a brilliant post! I loved that you did this with a classroom of grade four students. You are so generous to share your supplies and time and I am pretty sure you may have influenced a few to become DIYers! Cheers!

  12. I love this so much, Brittany! I LOVE your passion to empower and your tenacious drive to do accomplish whatever you put your mind to. You are such a great role model.

    <3 your biggest fan!

  13. Barbara Shively says:

    Brittany – I am sooooo impressed with this project. It was a lot of work on your part but such a great lesson for all of the kids. Learning really can be fun!

  14. Well, this is just plain AWESOME! What a great experience for these kids… they will never forget it!!

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