DIY Chess set

DIY Chess set


Just like that. Christmas has come and gone. Crazy right? Well, I guess we can say that about this entire year. Keith and I normally don’t normally exchange gifts at Christmas but this year, we decided we should but…we should make each other something. We laid down some rules such as, we were not allowed to spend more than $20 and it had to be something we could use. Oh and Keith was banned from drawing anything, that would be a big disadvantage for me. 😉 Let the brainstorming begin.

Keith has quite a few passions. I racked my brain for a bit but then the idea came to me. It was obvious. The man is obsessed with chess. Why not make him a chess set? SOLD. Next step was researching some ideas. That’s when I came across the nut and bolt idea. Now, it seemed like a relatively easy thing to do. Pop past a hardware store and pick up all the pieces. EASY PEASY… NOT. It turned out to be a mission to find all the pieces, especially the ones that I originally wanted to get. I think I visited majority of the hardware stores in my little town. Believe me, there are plenty here! None had the pieces I wanted and so I had to improvise. The hardest piece to find, which I’m super chuffed to have eventually found was the crown (castle being its official name). Funnily enough, I contacted my one of my Grade 3 students as her family owns a hardware store and they were the only ones to stock these valuable little pieces. SCORE!

These are just some of the pieces needed


So what next? I initially soaked the nuts and bolts in vinegar to remove the rust on some of the pieces but once cleaned up and dried, I wasn’t happy with how that turned out. It seemed to make the pieces worse. Sooo… off I went to the hardware store again. I found one that I went back to several times to grab an extra nut and bolt here and there. They must have thought I was nuts (haha). Some days asking for 16 bolts and then returning the next day for bigger ones, haha. But I finally got all my pieces, cleaned them up and then it was time to spray…

All ready to be sprayed


I decided on gold and silver. Thought that would make a great combo. Spray paint is super affordable and it dries so quickly so I was able to spray more than once in a day. Once the pieces were evenly covered, I then sprayed with clear just to seal it all in. I really like how they turned out.


This gold is so pretty.


Next up was setting up the board. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to use but then I realized it needed to be budget friendly and I figured a wooden chopping board would be light and the perfect size. Off to the stores again. I think the size I chose was perfect as the pieces look great all set up and it’s still small enough to travel if needs be.

First thing to getting this started was using masking tape to cover the entire board. I was paranoid and used 2 layers, just in case. 🙂


I taped horizontally and vertically.


Then it was time to measure and draw the lines. This takes a bit of time but is totally worth it. It’s also quite relaxing, being completely zoned into something.




Once that is complete, you can then begin slicing the blocks out. I used a Stanley blade for this and surprisingly, it didn’t take too long to do.



Now it’s time to spray the board. I think I may have sprayed too much on mine (I blame my excitement at wanting to see it all finished) as it did leak through the tape a bit, however, I actually like the effect it gave. It certainly made it a little grungy. Quite apt.



Remember don’t over spray. I may have been a bit over eager and sprayed too much at once, hence my paint lurking in parts it shouldn’t have been.



Let the paint dry and possibly add a 2nd coat. I certainly did. When you’re sure it’s dry, you can start to peel off the remaining tape. It was quite fun doing this although as I mentioned before, I was a tad disappointed at first with how the paint had crept in. Honestly, I did sand it down a bit, especially on areas, which really needed it. However, I am very happy with the final result. It’s great that it’s not 100% perfect because firstly, it is homemade and secondly, I don’t spray paint and the imperfections make it real. 🙂 AWESOME!

What next?

Now I wasn’t planning on making a storage box for the pieces as I had intended it to be something that is always ready to play in our house. However, Keith does love playing chess and might want to take it somewhere so how could he transport all these pieces. Brainstorm alert…

Keith had designed a chess logo ages ago. It’s a great looking logo and I suddenly remembered he had that, which I thought would be the perfect cover for his storage box. So off I went to Sakura, one of the coolest stores in town selling second hand goodies from Japan. I have found gold in this store over the years. I searched through their massive collection of boxes and eventually found the ideal one. I may have looked like a weirdo sizing the box with my bolts, but I’m ok with that.



I’d also decided on sewing a cushion to house the pieces, safely tucked in with elastic. I was looking for fabric that may have a chess pattern. It wasn’t until the shop owner suggested I use a Kroma, which is the traditional Khmer scarf, when I realised that was the obvious choice. How perfect?

Then I removed the leaves from the top of the box, sprayed it black and started sewing my cushions. Now I think my Mom would be rather proud because sewing is not my strong suit. Or rather I haven’t had a desire to perfect those skills. My Gran on the other hand is incredible with sewing anything and everything. Don’t get me started on her knitting. She always took care of my missing buttons and then Keith took over. He is excellent when it comes to fixing holes in clothes. So yeah, it was rather surprising that I decided to sew. I am rather proud of results. Not too shabby for a beginner. The elastic serves its purpose and we had an original housing for all the pieces.



The chess set was nearly complete. The last stage was sizing the logo and then placing it on. I used my DIY modge podge to attach the logo and am absolutely thrilled with the final results.


Sizing the logo. This is Keith’s original logo. It’s so unique.


I worked on his gift for about 2 weeks, which wasn’t too bad considering I had to be very sneaky and do it in between work. I am really happy with the end result and it was totally worth all the effort when I got to see Keith’s reaction. It was priceless.


Happy little chappy


I hope you had a wonderful Christmas wherever you were and that you have a fantastic New Year.

Good bye 2020 🙂



Happy New Year!


How to fold a mini book

How to fold a mini book



If you’ve been been teaching young learners, then no doubt, you are familiar with all sorts of mini books. We use them for everything from introducing new vocab to reading practice to Science to Math and so on.

There are plenty available online but if you’re like me, you enjoy making them yourself. I love picking out the clip art and choosing the font so be sure to grab yourself the FREE blank mini book template blank template.

If you’re completely new to mini books and are unsure how to fold them, then do not worry. The video above shows you exactly how to do it and also shows how easy it is or keep reading below.

Step 1:



Print out your mini book and cut the outline.


Step 2



Fold the paper in half.


Step 3



Fold the paper on all the vertical lines.


Step 4



Now cut your book on the dotted line in the middle of the paper. This is going to help fold it into its final shape.


Step 5



Now you’ré going to pull the two center vertical lines (where you cut the middle horizontal line) to create this shape as seen above.


Step 6



You’ve reached the final step. Just fold the cover over and you now have your very own mini book. How fun! 🙂

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you think and stay tuned for some more exciting activities.

Download your own Letter P mini book:

FREE mini book template

Have a magical day!

Laura 🙂

Letter Recognition

Letter Recognition

Every single reader who lives on this beautiful planet once had to start at the very beginning. I’m assuming not everyone is born fluent in reading and writing. 😉

As Kindergarten teachers will know very well, before a child can begin the steps to reading, they must be familiar with the letters they are going to be using. We have a fabulous alphabet containing 26 uppercase and lowercase letters. So what now?

The next exciting challenge is to get the kiddies enthusiastic about learning these foreign letters … thank goodness we live in a time with social media. We can pop on over to Google and Pinterest and find thousands of ideas in a matter of seconds. It’s amazing but the search results can quickly become overwhelming. As a teacher (and a woman), I absolutely love Pinterest. I am constantly searching for new ideas for my School.

Today’s post shares a few of the ideas and products we use in our school to help our little ones familiarize themselves with the English Alphabet.



Spoon Match up


One of my favorite activities to do are these adorable Spoon Match ups. They were really easy to prep as you just need spoons (colored and clear) and alphabet stickers. Most book stores will have a variety of sticker options. I am super grateful that my little town in Cambodia now stocks plenty of stickers.

The colored spoons would be used for the uppercase letters and the clear spoons would be for lowercase. I didn’t do anything fancy other than stick them on. There was no need to modge podge them and I haven’t had a single issue with it either. The kiddies are instructed to not pull them off but they seem to have no desire in doing so.

These are a perfect addition for stations or for early finishers. They’re just so versatile and easy to whip out.


Loo match up


I thoroughly enjoy using these match up puzzles, mainly to see the kiddies reactions and of course, to practice. There’s a lot of shocked faces followed by laughter.

These puzzles can also be adapted to suit different levels. Students are able to match lowercase (toilet) to uppercase (toilet paper) and there are also logs, which contain beginning sounds. These are ideal for stations, group or independent work.

The biggest task would be printing, cutting and laminating. However, as a teacher, I think we are constantly creating resources and like I always say, “Once it’s laminated, it lasts forever.”


Magnetic match


You can never go wrong with magnetic letters. I remember how thrilled I was when I bought my very first set for teaching, way back when. My hubby looked at me like I was the weirdo but I remember being SOOO excited at all the possibilities these little letters could be used for.

This is a very easy activity to set up. All you need to do is print out this sheet, provide letters and VOILA, lotsa fun ahead. I LOVE observing the kiddies through this as they’re always super zoned but also very helpful towards their pals. So sweet!

Grab your FREE printable at the end of this post. 🙂


Pirate Match


Our last activity for today’s post is also one of my favorites. I really love how these turned out and it’s another great way to practice letter recognition.

Of course, it does require some more printing and laminating but hey…isn’t that what a hubby is for (haha). My kiddies have all enjoyed matching these up and they have also bring great for early finishers.

What’s not to love right?

Product links:

I hope you enjoyed reading this and I would love to hear from you.

Have a magical day!

Laura 🙂


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