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White Boards as Tools for Literacy and Creativity

Using white boards to encourage creative drawing

White boards can be amazing tools for literacy and creativity. There’s something magical about the way the markers glide across the surface, dry instantly, and erase easily. My parents purchased a white board for us when I was seven years old, and I still remember how magical it was.

Using white boards to encourage creative drawing

White boards aren’t the novelty item they were when I was young, but my kids love them every bit as much. And, somehow, they eliminate the perfectionist tendencies my kids sometimes exhibit. Emma spelled this sentence out correctly (recognize Lily’s bug?), but I’ve noticed that she is more willing to risk guesses instead of asking me how to spell every single word when she is using the white board. Johnny attempts to write words, as well. Last night he wrote, “Go. T.” and then asked Emma for help with writing “the zoo” – then went on to draw a zookeeper with the word “zoo” written on his shirt, and an entrance sign for the zoo without further assistance.

Using white boards to encourage creative drawing

When Emma draws on paper, each line is deliberate. On the white board, drawings are spontaneous, and she doesn’t worry about perfection. She knows that when the drawing is done, she’ll simply erase and draw another.

Using a white board to explore faces and emotions

We have several small white boards, and the kids love to sit and draw together, often working on similar projects. Here, Emma drew a series of faces exhibiting various emotions. Johnny followed along, drawing his own interpretations:

Using a white board to explore faces and emotions

Do your kids enjoy writing and drawing on white boards?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

36 thoughts on “White Boards as Tools for Literacy and Creativity”

  1. My son is only 20 months old but he LOVES his dry erase boards! We have a couple of them around the house for him to color on. He prefers these to any other coloring/drawing thing he has.

  2. When I was helping in my twins classroom my then 3 year old boy always got out a white board to draw on! But we’ve never had one at home! Going to change that soon.. thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Yes, yes, yes!!! But honestly, only when I allow it… you motivate me to allow more. I just can’t pick up after everything and everyone anymore and unfortunately they don’t manage to always remember to put on caps and keep them out of Phinia’s reach while working.
    I am making progress with tolerance and they are making progress too (?) :) in keeping my rules. :)

    1. How quickly the markers dry out can be a problem. My kids have gotten good at this – I find giving each child one marker at a time helps a lot with that!

  4. Great idea to have the individual boards like that! My kids like to go into their Daddy’s office and draw on his big white board – it is kind of a special event! I have to get some VOC free markers thought – it can get stinky in there – not good!

  5. Abby loves her white board. I remember when I was a kid and I got a chalkboard for Christmas. It was a big one with a tray. I was so excited. We loved to play school and it was perfect!

  6. Hi there, as homeschoolers we’ve chosen to put a huge whiteboard in. We use it for math, history etc. And yes! the kids love it! The smaller children especially love to use, a great outlet for creativity!

  7. Interesting. We have white boards available but daughter is not using them much. She does doodle on her magnetic boards more than on the white boards. Maybe it’s because we are giving her a hard time if she leaves markers uncapped.

  8. Loving the mama and baby bugs. :) :)

    Our lives have been revolutionised since I discovered OUR WHOLE REFRIGERATOR IS A WHITE BOARD. I’m sure my kids would love personal-sized white boards, too, but I’m not sure where to buy them. Any tips?

      1. Thank you for the recommendation! Amazon and I love the fact that my parents are flying over for a visit soon. ;)

  9. We have a board with a white board on one side and flannel on the other. It gets used quite a bit. Just recently my daughter had a friend over and they were making a detailed schedule of how they were planning to take care of their baby dolls, eating, bathing, etc. Very cute.

    1. How cute! White board on one side and flannel on the other – that’s all you need for HOURS of creative play!

  10. My kids love ours. We have a huge one in the playroom and they use it for play but I also use it for math homework and spelling words. It’s just another medium for writing, and it makes it more fun, like they’re at school.

      1. I know you teach college Spanish now – did you teach that to high school students also? I used to teach high school French!

  11. YES! They LOVE whiteboards and all things erasable. :)

    I started my son writing letters on his Magnadoodle, and when I saw how much he enjoyed erasing what we’d created I let him use the whiteboard. He regularly “steals” mine off the fridge and uses it for his own inscrutable preschooler purposes (which are apparently too many to count).

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