Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DIY Tabletop Easels from a Cardboard Box

OTs are always raving about the benefits of writing on a slantboard or working on an easel. I'm not sure why but I think it has to do with hand (or finger or wrist) strength and fine motor skills. (Any OT's out there who would care to enlighten us in the comments?) I have a full size easel, but it takes up a ton of space and I never feel like dragging it out of its corner and setting it up. I've been wanting some tabletop easels for the kids, but I've never been willing to spend the money on them. They're crazy expensive.

Every week my husband breaks down cardboard boxes in preparation for recycling day and one day I was staring down at them and had a idea. I sat down yesterday and made these from one medium sized cardboard box in about 20 minutes.

I forgot to take pictures while I was making them, but essentially I cut all the tape and broke the rectangular box completely down flat and cut it in half. The long side of the box becomes the front of the easel and the short side of the box becomes the bottom of the easel. You have to cut triangles off the four remaining pieces to make the puzzle fit together. The right side of the easel is formed by a short half and long half of the top of the box and the left side of the easel is formed by a short half and long half of the bottom of the box. I know that's clear as mud when written out, but I promise it works. Then just tape the thing in place with some packing tape to hold the shape. I also made a tray for the front to catch drips from a piece I cut from a second box.

If someone is really interested in making these and can't figure it out, I'll try to make a picture tutorial another time.

Here's a back view (Sophie likes the easel too.):

Here's Michael working on his first creation with his easel: (something about a monster, a map, footprints, and a hiding hole)

I was absolutely amazed at Ava's picture. I asked her what it was and she told me it was her "kitty fairy". Because I'm that kind of mom I took a picture of it, slapped a caption on it, emailed it to all of our relatives, and put it on my blog. I really do think it is beautiful. I'm thinking of slapping the original in a frame and putting it in her room. What do you think?


  1. What a great idea! I'm one of those pediatric OT's who is always raving about the benefits of using a slanted surface :) The slanted surface helps extend the wrist, which encourages finger movements, rather than whole arm movement, getting the child ready for writing. It also helps strengthen the wrist and hands, as well as promotes a tripod grasp. The slanted surface is just great all around and I love the homemade easel you've created. I will definitely try that. You can read here how I make homemade slant boards for students: http://pediatricotblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-make-slant-board.html

    1. What a wonderful explanation of the benefits of slant boards and tabletop easels. I was so hoping an eloquent OT would pipe in here and explain it to us. I love your DIY slantboard Abby! I plan on spending some more time exploring your site looking for ideas to use around here.

  2. Wow! That kitty fairy is a masterpiece! It MUST be framed! If I were you, I'd also do some research to see if it could be made acid resistant. An heirloom!

    1. Thank you so much. At the moment, it is on the counter. I very much intend to frame it though. I just need more time... Thanks for the compliment. I thought it was lovely too.


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