Introduction: Checker Set - Up-Cycled From LP-Sleeve + Poker-Chips

"Kids Need Kiwanis" and "Serving The Children Of The World" are slogans of my Kiwanis Club (a global non-profit community service organization).

The members decided to reach out to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade kids who might be prone to gang involvement.

Games can provide 'life-lessons', and we hope to be a role model to these young people.

To start this program, we needed lots of games ASAP, and I developed this up-cycling idea.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

You'll want to start with:

  • A cardboard sleeve (cover, jacket) from a vinyl LP album. Keep the LP if you want, because there are lots of creative Instructables to upcycle the vinyl. You might even cut the sleeve in half and use the front AND the back to make two checker (or chess) boards.
  • A cardboard box from a 30-pack - soda pop or beer is great. Even a poster board will work, right?
  • A ruler and a pencil (not pictured)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Two spray-paint rattle-cans of different colors. The official (American Checker Federation) colors are green and tan, but flat black and white were inexpensive.
  • Twenty-four poker chips. Two contrasting colors of 12 chips each. If not, we'll just paint until we do.

Step 2: Why CHECKERS ?

Checkers provides a vehicle to teach several valuable 'Life Lessons':

  • Critical Thinking
  • Following Rules
  • Strategic Planning
  • Sacrifice
  • Consequences of One's Action
  • Perseverance In The Face Of Adversity
  • Getting Along With Others - Young And Old
  • Good Sportsmanship

The MENSA library offers two books about checkers, and none about chess. That alone should tell you something.

Step 3: STENCIL: Preparation

The board will have 64 squares - 8 squares across by 8 squares down. Thank goodness , only 32 squares will be painted with this stencil. A typical LP sleeve is about 12-1/4" by 12-1/4". If each square is 1.5 inches, the pattern fits nicely onto the sleeve.

You will make TEN strips of cardboard that are more than 12" long. (This will also require the brief use of a ruler and a pencil). Draw lines 1.5 inches apart on the large side panels of the box. Draw more lines perpendicular to the first set.

With scissors, cut each strip the LONG way (the short way is the wrong way). Measure twice; cut once, right?

Step 4: STENCIL: Assembly

The 'master plan' is to paint 16 squares, let them dry, and paint 16 more. You will make a STENCIL with 16 holes, each 1.5" x 1.5".

Space five strips horizontally. On top of them, place five strips vertically. Note how the penciled lines help to space them accurately. (This is where precise placement will pay off).

Tape the be-jeebers where the cardboard strips intersect, using about 40 pieces of tape (an inch or so long). Turn it over, and use another 40 pieces of tape

Step 5: BOARD: Undercoat

If the sleeve is mostly dark, choose black as the undercoat. If it is white with text or a light color, start with white. You might even glue the sleeve shut, if you wish.

Since Neil Diamond went 'blackface' in the 1980 movie 'The Jazz Singer', I felt that flat black was appropriate for the first layer of paint.

Shake and rattle that spray-can before spraying an even coat. When dry, examine it for spots that need to be touched up.

Step 6: BOARD: Stencil 16 Squares

To paint the first 16 squares, place the stencil on the sleeve. Adjust it to about 1/8" from the edge of the sleeve, and square it up.

Rattle the flat white can, and spray all 16 stencil holes. After a minute or so, lift the stencil and admire your work.

No, it isn't a masterpiece, and a bit of spray will sneak past its intended boundary, but it's a game-board, not the Sistine Chapel.

Set it aside and start making more boards, now that you have your stencil.

Step 7: BOARD: Stencil 16 More Squares

When both the board AND the stencil are dry, position the stencil to paint the next 16 squares. Peek into the holes of the stencil, and be careful to avoid overlapping even a tiny bit of any of the first squares.

Shake, rattle, spray, and dry. The board is complete!

Step 8: CHECKERS: Side One

Next is the matter of game pieces, or checkers. Our Kiwanis Club needed lots of sets quickly and inexpensively.

Thrift stores to the rescue! Very few full sets of real checkers were found, but there was a veritable plethora of plastic poker chips, which happen to be 1.5" diameter.

Into little baggies went a dozen white plus a dozen colored, again and again. We has lots of leftover white poker chips. What to do? Why, let's paint them too!

Place a dozen white chips on another piece of cardboard and find the flat black paint. Shake, rattle, spray, and allow to dry.

Step 9: CHECKERS: Side Two

When the flat black paint is thoroughly dry, flip the chips over and paint side two.

Stand back and admire your frugality!

Step 10: Look at What You've Done


Along with these up-cycled checker games, our Club has added a store-bought plastic JUMBO set, and made a 5' x 5' canvas 'board' for outdoor activities.

I also sprayed a 16" checkerboard pattern (with 2" squares) onto the steel side panel from an old desktop computer, and bought a couple dozen round colored magnets.

In an informal classroom setting, we offer slideshow presentations with these titles:

  • How To Beat Grownups At Checkers (basic rules & goals)
  • Weapons Training (basic tactics)
  • Power Tools (advanced strategies)
  • End Game

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Thanks for your precious time in reading through this material.

PLEASE vote your thumbs-up for me in the TRASH-TO-TREASURES up-cycling contest.

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