DIY: Make your own tabletop easels for preschool

I have been hanging on to a stack of left-over boxes trying to decide what I could do with them. I am terrible about throwing something like this away so I decided to try making my own tabletop easels…

I had already cut the boxes into pieces and so I started with the boxes all flattened out with the extra flaps cut away leaving me with a set of long, rectangular, cardboard strips.

I took the cardboard strips outside and painted them with fast drying high gloss spray paint. Painting the strips isn’t something that has to be done but I had a bunch of paint left over from a previous project and thought it would be fun to add some color…

Once my pieces were dry, I folded each cardboard strip into three parts and then taped the ends together with a strip of colorful duct tape…

So this is what I had completed so far…

To finish off the tabletop easels, I added a clothespin to the top of each easel for holding the paper…

The clothespins were attached to the easels with Velcro…

Now that my easels were all completed, I put paper on each one and set them out ready for the children to give them a try. The children can try a variety of tools like crayons…

And watercolor paints…

The easels don’t just have to stay on a table. We will try them on the floor and outside too!

The one tip I can already share with you is to be sure to select fairly heavy boxes for the easels so that they will hold up under a bit of pressure. I think mine just might need a little reinforcement but we will see how it goes!

Update: See these easels in action by clicking here!

By |2011-07-09T06:00:24+00:00July 9th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. KM July 9, 2011 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Soooo awesome!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      I am glad you like it!

  2. Michael July 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    I like you blog and how you have pictures with descriptions below.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      Thank you Michael:)

  3. Jackie July 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    These are great. I had made some similar out of diaper boxes (I saw a tutorial somewhere) but we could never figure out a good way to attach paper to it. I love the clothespins and also the bright colors. Can’t wait to make a few!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm - Reply

      I like being able to remove the clothespins when I want so the easels can be used in other ways too:)

  4. shar July 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I love this idea. So portable too! Thank you 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm - Reply

      Thank you Shar:)

  5. Isil July 10, 2011 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Great idea, thanks 🙂

  6. jennie_hi July 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Hi, about how big was your original pieces of cardboard? Love this idea. I wish I hadn’t thrown away my large boxes. 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Hmmm, about 10 feet long but after folding it goes up about 4 feet tall.

  7. Patricia Giménez July 11, 2011 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Great idea ! Thanks for sharing

  8. Trisha August 3, 2011 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Walmart sells sturdy boxes in their packing area (where they sell bubble wrap and packing tape). I bought a 16x16x15 box for 88 cents! I just cut off the flaps and one of the sides. I used them to reinforce the easel. I wasn’t as motivated to paint mine as you were:) So I just used colorful duct tape (sold in the home section) to tape on the reinforcements, tape the folds, and as a nice looking trim all the way around. It’s very sturdy and nice looking.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Colorful duct tape is a great way to give it a finished look! I love how you can get so many colors now:)

  9. Dani August 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Hi – I clicked the facebook link and put it on my facebook page. Then I read, contact you if I wanted to do such a thing. So, is that ok? Sometimes I post things simply for my own reference… I love the cardboard easels. I’m an art teacher, been racking my brain for ideas on how to afford easels for my 475 students. I saw yours and now my problem is solved! I love your idea! Thanks, Dani

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 5, 2011 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Links on your facebook page is okay any time – no need to ask permission for sharing links!!

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 5, 2011 at 11:04 pm

        I really need to fix that so it doesn’t show up when you try to post a link!!

  10. Vicki Blacken September 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Hi, Another great idea and a thrifty use of old cardboard boxes! I took your idea a bit further and covered two of mine with some old felt I had around, so now we have two tabletop art easels along with two small, portable flannel boards. Even my one year old grandchild can sit on the floor at the flannel boards and stick on the felt pieces. I made mine with slots instead of tape, so they all fold flat for storage. Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      Terrific way to change things up!! I love it when folks use their own ideas and this sounds wonderful!

  11. Goya November 13, 2011 at 9:00 am - Reply

    This is the BEST blog to spend time (almost the whole day on weekends)
    I am a Montessori teacher and the ideas that you post and describe are wonderful…love it!!!!! Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. November 13, 2011 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Why thank you Goya:)

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