A DIY Growth Chart

Why use a pencil, when we could use a knife? It seems that that rationale helps explain some of my family of origin’s culture. Before moving to Kenya, we lived in two homes I remember well in Oregon–and there were growth marks notched with the tips of knives leveled over our very heads in both of them. In my grandma and grandpa’s house, that always smelled of a wood fire even in the thick of summer, there was a threshold into the kitchen with an array of grandchildren’s names and various vertical achievements (which, I must say, are modest), no doubt written in medium point Bic pens from Grandpa’s letter writing collection. I think I passed my grandma and some of my aunts around age 11; who knew the young lady adopted from Korea would be amongst the tallest in the family! In terms of character and love, however, my petite family members are giants (which, I might add, is literally what my kids’ pediatrician calls me). Sigh.

All this to say, I grew up with a healthy reverence (and a little trepidation given the size of knife) for the growth chart on the wall thing. When my Enneagram 7 husband decided one day, early in our eldest’s summit to adulthood, to measure him against a random wall in the middle of our house, I knew that that decision would land me in a project one day called Let’s Not Permanently Mark the Middle of the Hallway Anymore.

Thus, this budget friendly, easy DIY project, just a mere 7 or so years later. I’m getting ready to paint over that endearing but not-ideally-placed growth chart, and call it heretical, but I had to transfer the data to a new medium in order to do so. I found a discarded remnant board at Home Depot, which they gave me, and some leftover paint, and now we’re ready to grow some more.

In this day and age, living in a place for very long is kind of rare; it surprises our friends, as well as us, that we’ve lived in this home for 8 years now, and on the same street for almost 12. Now, no matter where we go, we can take record of the kids’ incremental height adjustments with us. Perhaps this would work for your family, a baby gift, or a grandma’s house too.

Supplies:

board, pencil, paint/brush, ruler, paint or permanent pen, number stencils or removable stickers, hanging bracket

  1. Sand your board and get it to the color you want; if you have a nice natural piece of wood, a stain with black numbers and marks is really pretty and easy with Sharpie markers. I picked up a beat up board though, that already had white primer, so a random color was the new game plan.
  2. Using a ruler, along one side of the board, pencil on ruler marks, making sure to stay perpendicular to the side of the board (parallel with the ends). Decide how tall you want your board to reach, then measure the length of the board to know your shortest height marked. (I wanted to use ours upwards of 6′, so since it is about 5.5′ long, it starts at the 6″ mark.) I decided to make lines only every 2 inches, instead of every inch.
  3. Using stencils or removable stickers, position large numbers at the foot increments desired. Use permanent or paint markers to go over lines and numbers in the desired color. Given the darker base color of my board, I went with white and was able to use chalk markers for the lines, and white paint for the numbers. A pen would have made for neater numbers.

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4. Sand if a distress look is desired. Attach a hanging bracket to the back of the board and position next to your old growth chart area if you need to transfer measurements, being sure to hang it so that, measuring from the floor, your “ruler” is accurate.

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5. Enjoy your movable growth chart for years to come. (PS: a pencil works just fine; you can forgo the knife measurement method.)

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