How To: Dry Erase Calendar

Time to wrap up this week’s worth of Back to School stuff- ministry style! Want to see what we were up to? Click here to see the post about B2S care packages, here to see a Youth Room makeover, and here to see how we communicate with parents and students throughout the year. Today, we’re rounding things out with a fun DIY project that anyone can do. Remember our “In the Know” center from yesterday?youth room 083My favorite part of that command center is the life-size calendar that we created to display all sorts of happenings for each month. This project was sort of on a whim and turned out to be one of the coolest additions to the space. I love it because anyone can put something like this to use- teachers, parents, college students, even kids for their bedrooms. Let me be up front by saying that I did not come up with the idea (I saw it first on the Home Depot website when I was reading about the RustOleum Dry Erase kit from yesterday’s post). However, the picture I saw did not come with instructions, so that part I made up on my own and figured I’d share just in case someone else would ever want to do something similar.How To- Make a Dry Erase Calendar (2)Supplies Needed:

  • Background paint color
  • Roller for regular paint
  • RustOleum Dry Erase Paint Kit (we used some that was leftover from a larger project we were doing- you definitely won’t use anywhere near a full can for this project)
  • Foam roller for DE paint
  • Painters’ tape (I recommend something that you really trust to make CRISP lines!)
  • Tape measure
  • Level

Step 1: You’ll need to create a colorful background (it doesn’t have to be a bright color- it can just be the color of your walls like the picture on the website). Because our walls are white, I had to create a darker backdrop so that the dry erase squares would be visible. Note to anyone who can’t paint directly onto the walls: You can still do this project! Simply get a sheet of thin plywood, cut to size, create calendar on that, and attach it to your wall. youth room 049I taped off a 30″x30″ square and used some leftover teal paint from our Spare Bedroom as the base color.youth room 050Step 2: Using painters tape, create a grid for your calendar. I used the picture from the HD website as my guide and made up my own measurements.

youth room 052Helpful Hint: Use the width of your painters’ tape to your advantage! For my 30″x30″ square, I decided on 7 rows and 7 columns of boxes (with the top not divided to allow space for writing the month), each 3″ wide and high. The outside border is 1.5″ (I just used the width of the tape I had) and the inside “dividers” are 1″ (again, just using the width of a different roll of tape). This step is more tedious than hard. My advice: USE THAT LEVEL! Not all of our boxes ended up being perfect, but they’re close enough for me.

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Step 3: Cover the entire surface with Dry Erase paint. I did at least 3-4 coats because I wanted to make sure that you wouldn’t be able to see the teal behind it. youth room 053The HD website recommends putting a coat of primer first when covering darker surfaces, but for such a small space (and lack of time), I just added a few extra coats of DE and that seemed to do the trick.youth room 054Step 4: Remove the tape right after the last coat goes on. This will prevent peeling paint, as opposed to removing after the paint is already dried. Side Note: Predictably, this is the most exciting part so soak it up!

youth room 055Step 5: Let it dry and cure (the instructions say for three days) before writing on the DE surfaces. Even thought it’s hard to wait, at least you have something pretty to look at!

youth room 068We debated going over some of the less-than-crisp edges with a small paint brush, but decided that it wasn’t worth the time (maybe sometime in the future I’ll tackle it) and you really couldn’t tell unless you’re up close and staring.

youth room 056Step 6: Go ahead and add your dates…youth room 069…and other calendar “fillings”!

youth room 070And you’re done! How fun is that? I can’t wait to be able to have a space that is so large to visually represent what’s coming up in our calendar year- here’s to hoping that it’s a helpful tool for both our students and our leaders! If nothing else, it looks cool and draws you over to take a closer look and maybe even sign up for a trip or event!

youth room 084Well, that about wraps it up for today- and the week! Thanks for hanging out with us… have a great weekend! Oh, and HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL!




This week, we’ve been knee deep in Back to School stuff… Youth Ministry style! If you’re playing catch up, you can read about Tuesday’s B2S Care Package idea here and yesterday’s crazy Youth Room Makeover here. Today is all about the nitty gritty- how we communicate what’s going on with everyone. Having quality programming is great, but if no one knows it exists, then none of that actually matters.WhoWhatWhereWhenHowThis won’t be a super wordy post, just a few of the ways that we communicate with our students and parents throughout the year. Oh, and to top it off, I’ve got a few other photos that didn’t make the post yesterday- that’s right, a little behind the scenes action plus an area that got a makeover, but not airtime at all yesterday! Get pumped.

Ok, onto the communication thing- we do our best to tell people what’s going on in a multitude of different ways and through a host of different platforms.

  1. Church Website- We are in the process of a website makeover actually, so when the new one is up and running, I hope to use this as the primary “hub” for finding all things Youth Min.
  2. Snail Mail- One of the best, in my opinion. There are so many emails floating around these days that the chances of important information getting deleted are high. We don’t mail everything home (for postage reasons), but here are a few examples of things that do make it to UPS (feel free to click on the links for a generic Word Doc. sample that you can tweak and use for your own purposes).

Welcome Back Sample: This is a packet that gets sent out at the beginning of each year to each student. It includes three pieces: a Welcome Back Letter,Welcome Back…a document that gives a run down of the ways that we communicate throughout the year,So How Do I Know

…and a general schedule for September-December so people can start marking their calendars.Mark those Calendars

In addition to the Welcome Back Packet, we send out postcards for big events. Here’s an example of our Kickoff postcard that each student received in the mail:FUSION- Kickoff Postcard SampleFUSION- Kickoff Postcard Sample 2Sorry for the blurred out faces, but it’s for privacy/safety purposes (don’t worry- the unblurred ones are just Mitch and I). Unfortunately, I can’t attach the tweakable version for your use (because it’s a Publisher document), but you get the idea. Oh, and with anything we send home, I always (always always) sign it myself. The postcards even get a quick note to each student, telling them that I’d love to see them there- I want them to know that they were individually thought of enough and that each correspondence that they receive is intentionally meant for them.

Bonus: Every month we send out a Youth Newsletter (this is not mailed, but available in the Youth Room and online). Click the link for a version that you can fiddle with for your own program: September Newsletter Sample .September NL Sample3. Social Media- We have a FB page, a Twitter, and an Instagram for the Youth Ministry and we give all of that information out at the beginning of the year.

social media

4. Emails- We call them “In the Know” and they go out weekly with what’s happening that week, the following week, and in the future. These are crafted using Constant Contact.

5. Cards- I love writing cards and have a whole basket in my office devoted to stationary. I do my best to send at least one card to each student every year. We’re still working on getting the birthday card system down…

Annnnnd that’s about it- all (or most) of the ways we spread the word about things around here. Now for that backstage pass I promised. Remember the chalkboard above the Sink Nook from yesterday? Well, here’s what it was looking like mid-makeover:youth room 038

I have a habit of doing this

And the space that got a mini-makeover, but no airtime? It was the hallway! All of the walls are painted white and can become very monotonous, but we happied it up with some fun borders (they truly are a great “fix all”) and a few fun additions. First, we announced the upcoming arrival of our Youth Mail Center. Our church has a place where every family has a mailbox and I wanted to do the same for the youth… plans are in action.youth room 008

And on the other side, we started our very first Picture Timeline. Essentially, I covered all of the tack strips with happy green borders, printed/mounted/laminated a sign for every month of the year, and strung twine going all the way down the hallway. The plan is to add photos of things we do during each month as we work our way through the year. That way, anyone passing through can stop and take a look at what’s happening in the Youth Ministry. youth room 100youth room 103 youth room 104Just these few tweaks have made such a difference to an otherwise bleak hallway. Yay for simple, but effective upgrades!

Ok, enough out of me- see you tomorrow for the How To on our new calendar!:youth room 083

Have a great day!


Room RENO: Youth Room Edition!

Well, folks, we’re taking this outside. Outside the walls of our house, that is. The timing of this project worked out nicely because I was getting a little bored with our own home stuff (although there is plenty more to do and share) and have been itching to take a breather in exchange for something new. And boy, is this new! youth room 075At our church we have two (well, now three) rooms that are used by the Youth Ministry- a small classroom that we use for HS Sunday School and some Small Groups and a larger classroom that we use for MS Sunday School, some Small Groups, and regular Youth Group. The bottom line? We were quickly outgrowing our space, so we were thrilled to adopt a new, even bigger room into the mix. All three rooms are in the same hallway, making it really easy to use all at once or have everyone all together in one space.

As thrilled as we were for the new space, we had just about a week to switch it from its former role as a Pre-School room into a brand spankin’ new Youth Room. Are you picturing long days and longer nights to make it happen? Well, you’re right on the money. But let me tell you- it was totally worth it. Enough from me, though, let’s get on with the makeover! Here’s what the room looked like before any work started- purely Pre-School:Pillows 023And if I pan a little to the left:

Pillows 024And back around to the right/behind me:

Pillows 025There are two doors that lead to the hallway, four (laaaarge) closets, two windows, and a sink. We call this: good bones. First thing was first- we had to empty that baby.

Pillows 027A big thanks goes out to our movers (aka. some of the High Schoolers) for helping me take out the Pre-K stuff and bring in a few of the bare essentials- couches, Foosball tables, etc. Before we get too much further, let’s talk about the room itself. In thinking about how we would use more space if we had it, I had already come up with a vision and a list of things I would love for the room to be able to do for the ministry:

  1. Be a space that could hold everyone all at once (our previous large room was not big enough for all of us).
  2. Have the capabilities of being broken into “zones” (more on this later)
  3. Be a space that students can come and hang out outside of programming
  4. Have some sort of space with couches for comfy sitting and talking
  5. Have some sort of space with tables and chairs for games, card playing (we play a lot of Dutch Blitz), and homework (we have students who come and hang out after school to do homework and have never had a space that they could actually spread out and work from)
  6. Have a bar of some sort to separate the two, but maintain the open, airy feel of the room
  7. House our Youth Library (organized and maintained by one of our very own students) and information desk (aka. “In the Know)
  8. Be a space full of places for students to let loose, create, and be free to use their imagination
  9. Have capabilities of projecting movies, song lyrics, etc. somewhere
  10. Be able to one day serve as a space for other teens in our town to hang out (Coffee House, open game room, etc.)

Whew, that’s a long list! Some of this will happen over time, but most of it was accomplished using the space we had and very few newly purchased items. I think the best way to do this is to show you the finished product and then we’ll go more in depth about “how did it get from Point A to Point B” breakdown. Ahhh, this is so exciting! I’m grinning like a fool and wringing my hands as I try and write this. Ok, here we go:

BEFORE: Looking into the room from the main hallway.Pillows 023And AFTER:youth room 092

BEFORE: Panned a bit to the left.Pillows 024AFTER: Adding an interactive dry erase wall and “In the Know”.youth room 086BEFORE: Looking back toward the main door from the sink area.

Pillows 027And AFTER:

youth room 096And that closet corner BEFORE:

Pillows 025AFTER:

youth room 090

So here’s how it went down… I’m actually going to do this in “zones” (see Vision #2 from the list) so you can see how each part of the room developed. Let’s rock and roll.

Comfy Seating: When you first walk into the room from the main door, you are greeted by the seating area. We pulled in two large couches that we already had (one L-shaped wrap around and another regular one) and arranged them in a large L-shape. We debated bringing in a large square coffee table, but are holding off to see how this room gets used before pulling the trigger. So far, less “stuff” in the way has been helpful for piling in more bodies.youth room 005Game Zone: If you turn to the right, you’ll see we dragged in the Foosball tables for optimum game playing and tournament happenings.

youth room 099

A word about the lights- I grabbed two lighting kits from Ikea (the kind with a bulb attached to a cord that just plugs into the wall- no ceiling light box needed) and stuck them in a couple of lampshades we had from unused lamps. Boom, two hanging lights.

Let’s round that corner so I can show you Favorite Part of the Room #1…youth room 089This wall seemed like a great spot for some “go ahead, draw on the walls!” fun. All it took was a can of Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint, some painters tape, and a bit of patience (you can’t actually write on it for a few days while it cures).chalk

Some tidbits that might be helpful to you if you’re planning on using this product: It went on just like paint, we used two coats, and it calls for a four hour drying period between each coat with a three day curing period after the last coat. Also, make sure you condition the surface (rub a piece of chalk on its side over the whole surface and then erase and wipe clean) before writing on the wall. When it was finished curing/conditioning, I just added a message at the very top, encouraging anyone and everyone to start creating.youth room 094Ok, moving on to the other side of the room (and Favorite Spot #2)…

Dry Erase Nation: I knew I wanted somewhere in the room to function as teaching space, projecting space, and a wide open area for students to create/write/do homework/etc. In the spirit of using what was already there and not sinking a lot of time and money into the project, we opted to embrace the obstacles on our only blank wall in the room. youth room 046

We were dealing with a bulletin board (glued and screwed into the wall) and tack strips that ran the length of the wall (also glued and screwed). Both would have caused major damage to the dry wall that would need extensive patching and repainting if we removed them. Since we were on a tight budget and had a fast approaching deadline, we decided to change plans and work around them. The decision: We would use the bulletin board as our “screen” for projecting things and the entire U-shaped space around it would get the Dry Erase treatment. Now, this is the cool part: Rust-Oleum also makes a Dry Erase Paint that you can literally paint onto the wall and create a huge canvas of white board. I ended up getting two kits and using one and a half for this project (I might have used more than necessary, but I wanted to be thorough). Since the “during pictures” don’t look any different than the before shots, let’s just skip to the finished product:youth room 087To help our artists remember to keep their art on the actual dry erased treatment, we lined the covered bulletin (covered for projecting purposes with a sheet from Ikea clearance) with border strips (found at Becker’s). We also created an outline of the dry erase space to help students differentiate between DE and regular white walls by adding teal zig zag borders along all four sides, utilizing and hiding those boring brown tack strips while we were at it. I even painted a “reminder” on the wall next to it: Hey Artists! Please keep all dry erase art INSIDE the marked box and off of the screen. Thanks!

youth room 085Oh, and that teal caddy? The first basket holds all different colors of Expo markers, a few Expo erasers, and some cleaning solution. The middle basket holds tons of chalk and chalkboard erasers. The bottom is empty, providing some extra storage space should we ever need. This came from Target and caught my eye because each basket is removable so that students can take them out and bring them anywhere they might be using those supplies. And just like the chalkboard, I added a few examples and a note to get things started:

youth room 088

It was so much fun to see people crowding around this wall, putting their own drawings and art all over it- I can’t wait to see how this space evolves. The dry erase wall leads seamlessly into our “command center”, aka. In the Know.

youth room 086In the Know and Youth Library: There’s not too much before/after action here because we just dragged the shelves in from the previous Youth Room to create this nook. The two large shelves on either side make up the Youth Library (you can see the check out clipboard on the left there). The middle shelf has all of our school supplies, Newsletters, and Sign Ups. Each clipboard has a different event on it, allowing students to sign up for upcoming events and activities at any point in time. The calendar is also a new addition, but I that’s all I’m giving you for now because there’s a full post coming your way on the “how to” (hint: it involves more Dry Erase paint) so stay tuned!

Coffee Shop: Here comes that coffee bar/seating area that I had dreamed about. We’ve already put it to good use as students ate pancakes and played cards around the tables. I look forward to them actually having a space to spread out their books to do homework when they come after church. We’re taking some Dollar Tree white plastic table cloths for a spin as we figure out what we’ll use (if anything) to cover our mismatched tables.youth room 097

So far, our “bar area” is two Ikea Expedit shelves on their sides, pushed together. It’s a nice divider to the room that doesn’t break it up visually and adds some awesome (and much needed) counter space. Oh, and we were even able to squeeze in a mini fridge and microwave on the one side of the bar. Function, function, function people!youth room 096 From the other direction, this side of the room looks like this:youth room 092Wait, before we move on, let me just harp for a quick second on those lights. These were my most exciting purchase for the room (we already had one, so I grabbed two more from Ikea to match). They’re called Knappa (if you’re looking) and are so stinkin’ cute and make that side of the room feel extra special. I mean- what’s not to love about a geometric (?), flowery pendant light that DOESN’T NEED A LIGHT BOX?! Here’s the money shot for ya:

youth room 098

Yep, they have 15′ cords that just plug into an outlet, so we ran them along the ceiling and wired everything into the same surge protector so all it takes is a flipping one switch to turn them on and off all at once. And this , my friends, is the lap of luxury for me- rather than unplugging each individually. It’s the little things.

Which brings us to (we’ve almost made it full circle!) the Sink Nook:In my mind, I refer to this as my Favorite Spot #3 because it is the first thing you see upon entering the room and immediately draws you into the space. Not only is the sink super functional for us (hallelujah), we’ve outfitted the area above to be yet another space for our young artists to dream. Except this one has a twist… I’ll get to that in a second. First, the how to:chalk over sink

For the most part, it was the same process as the other chalkboard. The only difference is that I added a border (again, from Becker’s) to give it a little bit of spunk. As soon as it went up, we all stood back in awe of how much of a difference the red edging made- so simple too! Let me take a minute to pontificate on my new love for bulletin borders… they were the MVPs in helping us add color to an otherwise white-walled room. They come in all sorts of colors and patterns and ran us $3.99 per pack- best $3.99 we spent by far. Subtle, but total game changers. Just scroll up a few pictures to see the photos that don’t have them vs. the ones that do to see what I mean.

But I digress. Back to the twist on our second chalk space. Take a closer look at the Welcome message on the board…youth room 075

See it? Check out the P.S. at the bottom. We decided that instead of being a free for all, we’re going to use this board to host a seasonal art contest. Students will get the chance to submit their board designs and the winning designer will get free reign (within reason, of course) of the Sink Nook to decorate it and have their artwork displayed for the entirety of the season. Can’t wait to get this underfoot and I’ll be sure to pop back in every so often to show you some of the talent that we uncover!

Well, I think we’ve just about made it around the entire room (good thing, as this is turning into the longest post E.V.E.R.), but let me complete the tour by showing you the final wall.youth room 004

Our other bulletin boards started out gray (like the projection screen), but I thought they needed some color. In the interest of saving on fabric, I grabbed an XL sheet set that was on Clearance at Target and was able to cover three bulletin boards (two inside, one out in the hallway) for $10!sheets The left sports information on upcoming events and activities and the right is designed to be a space for students to let us know what they are involved in outside of church activities. They post their sports schedules, club activities, musicals, concerts, etc. and we encourage them to go to each other’s stuff and I do my best to show up to as much as I can throughout the year.

Another simple, yet noticeable upgrade are the bright white curtains (just scroll through the pics to see them in action). We grabbed three packs of Vivan panels from Ikea and they have been great- light and airy, but still helpful in grounding the windows and creating a homey feel in the room.youth room 097

Annnnndddd that about wraps it up- consider this your grand tour around our brand new Youth Room. We’re psyched about it and can’t wait to put it to good use… there has already been art on the walls and pancake syrup on the tables, so I’m happy. This is where I leave you, friends. Thanks for sticking with me through this novel! You’re the best.