Submitted by My Life and Kids
The summer Even Steven and I got married (and bought a house and moved to Virginia), my mom, her good friend Carol and my good friend (and Carol’s daughter) Erika came down to spend a weekend. We were driving them around to show off some of our favorite places in Richmond, and somehow we got to talking about the United States. And the conversation went something like this:
Anna: blah blah blah…. all 52 United States.
Even Steven: How many states are there?
Even Steven: Try 50…
Anna: Plus Alaska and Hawaii – DUH!
My Mom (always the counselor): Well, I’ve heard it both ways.
Seriously – until I was 22 years old, I thought there were 52 states. While Even Steven stared at us in shock, we realized that my mom, Erika and I all had the same 10th grade geography teacher – Mr. Huntley. We decided it was definitely his fault that we thought there were 52 states.
But Even Steven said he knew that there were only 50 states, along with their names, locations and capitals, before he even went to kindergarten. Apparently, his mom used to look at maps with him or something.
Well, Even Steven and I were both in shock for awhile. It was worse than realizing that I don’t have a rare voice gene that reacts poorly with microphone technology.
Anyways, now that Even Steven and I have recovered from the shock and have had a few kids, I figured I would make sure that they knew from a very early age how many states there are, where they are and how to find us on the map.
When we moved into this house last summer, I knew I wanted to do some type of huge map on the wall in Miles’s room. And for nearly a year, I’ve been casually looking for a child-like map of the United States that would work. And that was also within my budget (remember how cheap I am!? I made curtains out of bed sheets!)
Finally, I decided to just make one myself.
Supplies You Will Need:
- Template for the United States. I used a puzzle. You could use a map or find something online.
- Scissors and a pencil
- Scrapbook paper in a variety of complementary patterns
- Foam craft brush
- Mod Podge
- Stretched canvas in the size you want your map. Mine was 24 x 36, and I found it in my garage (who knows what it was doing there!)
- Paint – if you want something other than a white background
First, I found one of Miles’s puzzles that I really liked. One that I thought – if this was a poster or a print, I’d just use this. I SHOULD have just glued the puzzle to some newsprint, hung it on his wall and been done with it. But that would have been too easy.
While the kids were sleeping (and before Simon was born), I spent several naptimes (as in more than four hours), drawing every single state (all 50 of them!) onto white computer paper. I used the puzzle as a guide for size and shape. I had hoped to trace the states, but each state was not a piece of the puzzle, and the computer paper was just a bit too thick to see through for tracing. I did the best I could to freehand the states.
Once I had drawn all of the states, I cut them all out and labeled the backs. This took FOREVER! And who knew West Virginia was shaped like that?
Then I painted my canvas with some leftover wall paint we had in the garage. I used a foam craft brush and gave it one quick coat.
Then, I went through my massive supply of scrapbook paper and picked out several patterns that I thought would fit a boy’s room.
And I spent another several hours – throughout several naptimes – tracing each state onto scrapbook paper and cutting them out. I tried to pay attention to coordinating the patterns throughout the states.
Then Simon was born, and I put everything away for about two months.
Once Simon started sleeping through the night, I figured I should get back to work and actually FINISH this project.
I really wanted to quit at this point, but Even Steven just kept encouraging me. (As in, “Seriously? You’ve spent how many hours on this thing and you didn’t even make sure it would fit onto your canvas?”)
So – in one final push, I put the kids down for naps, and they slept FOREVER. So I free-hand trimmed every single state. Which means that absolutely nothing is to scale, several of the states don’t fit together well. And poor Montana! But – I figured that Montana, Virginia, North Carolina and the entire East Coast would forgive me, and I pushed on…
I laid out all of the states to find out the exact placement on the canvas. I shifted things up and over after taking the above picture.
Using a foam craft brush, I put Mod Podge on the canvas starting in the Pacific Northwest. Then, I put Washington and Oregon in place. Then I mod podged over the top of the states to keep them in place. I repeated this process throughout the entire United States (including Alaska and Hawaii).
When all of the states were stuck in place, I used the foam craft brush to put a final coat of Mod Podge across the entire canvas for a smooth finish. (I used matte Mod Podge).
I let it dry overnight (mainly because the kids woke up from their naps, and I didn’t have another chance to work on it until naptime the next day.)
Then I used some Elmer’s glue to attach a button to Cincinnati – where we live.
And – I LOVE IT!