My kids love these magnetic boards.
They use them with their magnetic letters, shapes and numbers, but also for keeping their craft items from being pushed onto the floor or into their neighbor's work zone. N (pre-k) is using one to work on his color word spelling, using the color word wall as a reference if he gets stuck.
We also use them for marble painting. I just saw a blog post that used magnetic marbles and a wand magnet underneath a cookie sheet to manipulate the marbles in a more precise manner. We will definitely be trying that soon. Since we use these a lot for art projects, I wanted something that cleaned up easy. I am thinking about painting the backsides with chalkboard paint, to have the best of both worlds. We have very large both indoor and outdoor chalk boards, though.
Since they have a hole in the ends, and nest, we store them on the manipulatives closet's door on a hook. If you use a good quality paint, they hold up very well. I've been using mine for 7 years and they show very little wear even though they've been scraped, dropped on the floor, etc.
As a professional commercial painter for many years, please take my expert advice. If you want these to hold up, don't skip any steps!
- Take an old cookie sheet, light rust is fine
- Sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper or go over with a liquid sander
- If you are using a USED cookie sheet, ensure it is entirely free of grease
- Spray with a metal primer, let dry
- Spray with a light coat of a good quality enamel for metal, let dry
- Apply a second light coat
- Let dry thoroughly, preferably a week to let the enamel cure hard
UPDATE: Since I posted this nearly 2 years ago, it's gotten a lot of traffic and a ton of copying. Here's some of what others have done with the idea: