DIY Vinyl U.S. Wall Map
A removable United States map for homeschooling your kids. It sounds easy, right?
This post is a looong time coming. It took me over two months of walking away from my computer in a frustrated tizzy before I got this piece of homeschool wall decor ready to show.
This will be easier if you have a die cutting machineor a deft hand with a sharp blade. At the end of the post I’ll share some ideas for implementing the project in homeschool or just for kicks.
Do It Yourself U.S. Removable Wall Map
You will need:
- Vinyl (available at craft stores in the die cutting aisle or available online)
- Die cutting machine or craft blade
- Inordinate amounts of patience
- Vinyl transfer tape
- Clean wall
- Adhesive spray or light glue stick application
Using state templates found online, resize them as necessary so that the states are in proportion to each other.
I’m trying to make a PDF you can download, but let’s stretch my powers one at a time.
(Editor’s Note: We’ll let you know when it’s available!)
Print out your templates, and using your craft blade, cut around each outline. We are die-hard imperfectionists at our house, so we are fine with inexact edges. How precise you choose to be is up to you.
When finished, use a light spray of repositionable adhesive and apply the templates to the TOP side of the vinyl. Trace lightly, or use the craft knife. Leave everything in place until you have finished cutting. Do not use a deep cut. This is called a “kiss” cut, because you only want to cut through the vinyl layer, not the backing layer.
Now, peel off all the vinyl NOT part of the states. All the surrounding vinyl can be discarded. (You can also give it to your kids as sticker paper, but you may want to add a backing of wax paper if you do this.)
Finally, peel the backing off the vinyl transfer tape and burnish—just a fancy word for rub hard at all the edges— and peel at a right angle starting at a corner. Peel until all the states are now applied to the transfer tape. Carry the tape to the wall, and position your states. (Burnish again.) Use a craft stick or the back of a spoon to place.
Stand back and admire your incredible genius. Then maybe have a drink, because there are 50 whole states.
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A few things to keep in mind:
- If you do this without a die cutting machine, it will take longer.
- The vinyl is compatible with dry erase markers, but your wall is not, so warn children with stern warning and eyebrows about not getting marker on your wall. (Just kidding, it will come off your wall, but it may cause discoloration.)
- To do this project with a die cutting machine, you will need the appropriate software and files. I used Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) and a Cricut Expression. I imported images from SCAL and clicked “Keep proportions.” Then, I did the best I could to align the states. I then selected all, enlarged within proportions. Finally, I cut and paste the pieces onto different pages in SCAL so I could cut at the size I wanted. They don’t all fit on the 12×24 cutting mat.
I cut out of paper and laminated the state shapes in the same sizes. You could do this with your paper templates. If you don’t have a laminating machine, you could use clear Con-Tac paper or take it to a print shop.
It also makes a nice floor puzzle, on which kids can use dry erase markers. Children can label states, capitals, major bodies of water, territories, and learn other map skills. Additionally, you could use the cut outs as a kind of matching card game, or use them to match to the wall art. Students can mark what states they’ve been to visit, routes for car trips, where grandparents and relatives live or explore old highways, like Route 66. You could even use Google Earth to show different portions of different states.
I left space between each of my states, because I wanted each one separate, but you could simply cut out a large US map.
I would love to see photos of what you come up with and hear other useful learning ideas.
Oh, if you buy the black vinyl, you can use chalk or chalk markers on it, not dry erase makers.