DIY Magnetic Board

How to make your own magnetic board on a budget!

If you haven’t seen how to make your own magnetic board yet, then you will want to see this one my daughter made for my grandson’s bedroom and then consider making one for your own child’s play room or your classroom…

Gather the Materials

I have shared our use of the magnetic board in my classroom on many occasions only the magnetic board I purchased before came from an auto supply store.  This magnetic board (oil pan) came from Walmart and cost about $11.00. I purchased two of the grease pans so I could use one in my classroom and one for my grandson’s bedroom…

The oil pan comes in a very pretty shiny silver which you could leave and use as is.  I like painting my oil pan to add some color but if you choose to paint yours, it is important to find a good spray paint that is meant for painting metal surfaces. Once you have selected your paint color, then you are ready to paint…

Painting the Magnetic Board

I started by painting the inside of my boards. My grandson’s is painted with an off-white color and my classroom board is painted with a bright white…

Then I flipped the board over and painted the back of my classroom board a pretty blue. It looks much better once the paint dries. And oh, my board had a few dents in the corner that I never noticed until I brought it home – so be sure to check your board over before purchasing it unless you don’t mind a few dents…

Create Magnets with Everyday Objects

After your paint dries, then you are ready to use your DIY Magnetic Boards for play.  My daughter attached her magnetic board to my grandson’s bedroom wall for play.  My daughter also made a few of her own magnets to go on his board as well like these foam block magnets.  She simply hot glued magnets on the back of a few large foam blocks. (Sorry that the following pictures are a little fuzzy but I took these with my phone)…

And my daughter added two magnets to the back of each of these animal shaped wooden blocks…

Enjoy Exploring the Magnets

And now my grandson has his very own magnetic board in his bedroom for play…

And when he comes over to play at my house, we often stop by my classroom and check out the magnetic board there too!

Safety Considerations

As a side note, be sure to check to make sure any magnets you make yourself will work well if you plan to put them in a toddler environment. We found that magnets hot glued on the back of wooden or foam pieces stay on much better than magnets put on something plastic.  And of course, you want to keep an eye on anything you give a toddler to play with!

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On…

Are Preschoolers Interested in Magnets? from Teach Preschool

DIY Playdough Lid Magnets from Teach Preschool

See more ideas for Magnetic Play on Pinterest

By |2018-12-20T12:48:57+00:00August 11th, 2012|

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. Vicky August 11, 2012 at 10:44 am - Reply

    This is just genius. I like the added touch of painting. Really makes it looks pretty anywhere. Such good ideas for creating magnets as well. Vicky from

  2. Nancy August 11, 2012 at 11:59 am - Reply

    What a great idea!! Guess I am heading back to Wal-Mart!

    🙂 Nancy
    Joy of Kindergarten

  3. Robin August 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Hi! I love this idea. Move been thinking about it for awhile now. I’m concerned that the magnets will scratch the surface, painted or painted. What have you found?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      It depends on the type of paint you use and how much abuse the board goes through. The one I currently have in the classroom has been out all school year and it has a couple of scratches on the white but my kids haven’t seem to notice:) But I will touch it up before school starts back up and it will be good as new.

    • Connie-Little Stars Learning August 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      Robin, It helps to lightly sand the entire thing with 100 grit sand paper, or use a liquid sander, then a coat of metal primer and two coats of a good quality metal paint for durability. My cookie sheet pans have been in use for over five years without scratching at all, and they get dropped and used for all kinds of activities that could scratch them up. I was a commercial painter early in life.

  4. Jane @ Mama Pea Pod August 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    What a great idea! We use a cookie sheet for magnet play at home, but I love this much bigger wall version!

  5. Lee August 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I bought one today and am curious how you hung your board. Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Lee,
      My husband used a drill and drilled a hole through the pan then screwed it to the wall.

  6. Robin August 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for all the input! I’ll be adding a drip pan to my lst for the next time I’m off my home island!

  7. Sandy August 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Great Idea!! You never mentioned how you hang this up on the wall?What did you use? Thanks!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      We drilled a hole through the pan and screwed the pan to the wall:)

  8. Joyce @Childhood Beckons August 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I love your how to! I’ve been wanting to get a drip pan for my son’s playroom for so long! Right now we just have a few cookie sheets, but I think we’ll be upgrading soon. I love that you painted yours. I wouldn’t have even thought of that. I’m sharing. Thanks for posting!

  9. Andrea Diuguid August 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Love this… but am wondering how to hang on cinderblock walls… any thoughts? Our building is OLD. 😉

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      Hmmm, I don’t know. Do you have any carpenters in your area? Do you have any backs of shelves you could attach it too?

  10. The Iowa Farmer's Wife August 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    FUN!! I posted about our puppet theater today! Thank you SO much for the inspiration and idea!

  11. Carla August 15, 2012 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Love this! Will definitely make one for my kids playroom. They will have a ball with it.

  12. Anita August 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Just curious how you mounted the board to the wall? Did you drill holes through the pan and then screw it to the wall or did you put something on the back to hang it?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 19, 2012 at 12:47 am - Reply

      Hi Anita,
      I drilled holes through the board and screwed it to the wall 🙂


  13. Aubrey August 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    What kind of magnets did you glue onto the back of the shapes/animals?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Aubrey,
      I used black round button magnets available at Amazon.


  14. Colleen August 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I am going to get me one of these for my daycare for a magetic board, but was also wondering if you do all the things previously mentioned in comments as far as painting it, if it would handle putting chalkboard paint on it. Something lightweight I could move outside when I needed to for chalk play. What do you think?

  15. Beth September 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I would not feel comfortable giving toddlers anything that a magnet had been glued to. An idea that comes to mind, but that I have not tired is to make board covered with a course carpet,I’m thinking one of those that folks put at the kitchen sink, and put velcro (the “hard” side) on the back of the toys. They will hold to the carpet and be repositionable. If you get the carpet smaller than a oil pan, you can use the same spot on the wall. The oil pan will cover up the holes where you mounted the carpet.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      I love how you are thinking Beth! Sometimes the best ideas come when you just go for it and give a new idea a try. I also love how you are considering what will be best for the children in your care – it is important we all do that:)


  16. Linda September 8, 2012 at 7:40 am - Reply

    LOVE this! We put one up in each preschool classroom for the fall. We hung them with 3M heavy duty picture hangers since we couldn’t use traditional mounting hardware in our rooms (we share space with our church). So far, they’ve stayed up with no problem!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Great idea to use the 3M picture hangers. I haven’t tried them yet but I do use the 3M hooks all the time in my classroom for other things:)

  17. Kerri October 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Hi this is great!! Is it magnetic on both sides? I am looking for something like this to magnetize to the side of my refridgerator and then paint with chalk paint.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Kerri,
      Yes the oil pan I used is metal/magnetic on both sides.

  18. Mary November 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    How do you attach board to wall. ..? I’m having difficulty keeping it up on wall:) thanks

  19. Denise November 19, 2012 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Thank you for this great idea. I have a major magnet collection that I want to redo to take up less space. I have been using cookie sheets and pizza pans painted and hung on my kitchen wall and I have run out of wall! I have found sheet metal at home improvement stores but I like this idea better.

  20. Anna Swatogor January 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    What kind of pan is this? Automotive? Kitchen?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      This is an oil pan (automotive) from Walmart. I painted it white and use it as my magnetic board and a board for the table when we are using liquid that spills.

  21. LottieSue January 4, 2013 at 7:02 am - Reply

    May I ask, now that you have been using these boards for a while are they holding up well? Is the paint being scratched or pealing? Did use one coat and how do you mount them.
    Thank you!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 4, 2013 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Hi Lottie,
      I have used this board everywhere and for the most part, the paint is still in good shape and not scratched all up but it is easy to touch up the paint as needed. The board itself is in excellent condition. My husband just put a screw through the board to mount on the wall. The boards I have in my classroom are not mounted to the wall so I can use them on a table or anywhere I need. The key is using a good quality paint made for metal.

  22. Chris March 3, 2017 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I got one of these pans, and mounted it on my cinderblock walls with really heavy duty 3M picture hangers. Once it was up on my wall, I had a really tough time getting it to come off, but I guess the health inspector is a lot stronger than me, because he was able to pry it off. And I was not allowed to rehang it that way (sigh), because he thought that if a child chose to grab on to the top and pull/hang, the pan might come down unsafely. I wonder, what if I had used two sets of picture hanging velcro strips?

    So now I slip it behind a book case, and just pull it out for occasional play on the floor or on a tabletop (sometimes for magnet play, sometimes for other activities).

    Another teacher at my school recently got a drip pan, and she drilled holes in the corner, and then used zip ties to attach it to the back of a toy shelf that has a pegboard backing. She keeps that shelf turned around backwards most of the time, with the magnet board facing out, and the front of the shelves facing the wall (it’s storage for toys not in the current rotation). Besides magnet play, she uses the board for other activities. Sometimes I see zipper bags taped to it, containing an interesting nature find or science experiment. YestredayI sew orange sticky notes arranged in the shape of a rectangle.

  23. […] a little background on how to make a magnet board such as this, go to this post: DIY Magnet Board. To turn our magnet board into a graph, I simply added lines using tape. You can use tape to make […]

  24. Lindsay December 30, 2018 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Has this been tested for lead or other contaminents?

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