Introduction: Paperboard Stencil Letters

About: During the COVID-19 crisis, all of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's religious services moved into an online-only format. I generally organize Sunday school activities for the children of the Fellowship …

Making your voice heard is an important part of honoring our UU 5th Principle, which commits us to the democratic process. Voting is the best way to participate in democracy, but when you're not old enough to vote yet, you can still express yourself to leaders!

One of the best way to speak out is through protests and rallies, so being able to make protest signs is a super useful skill. You can, of course, just write letters on a poster with markers, but stencils can help make your signs clearer and more legible, as well as making them faster to put together once you've made the stencils. These stencils can also be used for chalk paintings on sidewalks!

Plus, stencils are just fun.


-empty paperboard boxes (cereal boxes work great)

-scissors or Xacto blade


-markers or paint

-posterboard or cardboard

-masking tape (optional)

Step 1: Cut Up Your Paperboard.

Decide what size you'd like your letters to be. This will depend on the length of your message and the size of your posterboard. I ran out of posterboard after the last rally I attended, so I used a piece of cardboard from my recycling bin. Since it wasn't as big as a piece of posterboard, I just decided to have my sign say "BLM," the acronym for "Black Lives Matter," in big letters.

I cut three rectangles of roughly equal size out of my cereal boxes, making sure they fit on my cardboard.

Step 2: Draw Your Letters.

Using this stencil alphabet as a reference, sketch a letter on each rectangle. The key with stencil letters is that you want to make sure there are periodic gaps in the design so that the stencils will hold their shapes. Make sure you use pencil so that you can erase the lines if you don't get them right the first try.

You can also use a ruler if you'd like your letters to be more straight.

Step 3: Cut Out the Stencils.

If you use an Xacto blade to do this, you might want to get a grownup or an older sibling to help you. Make sure you put some thick cardboard under the letters to act as a cutting surface, or you'll cut into your table, and your grownups or your partner will be unhappy!

If you use scissors, poke one blade through the cardboard to cut out the shapes.

Step 4: You Can Use Markers With Your Stencils...

If you have some masking tape, that helps keep the stencils still while you use them.

Fill in the space in the stencil with your markers. To make the letters pop more, you can trace around the edge of the shapes as well as scribbling.

When you're done, lift up the stencil to see your letter. You can leave it as-is, or you can fill in the gaps in the letters with more marker.

Step 5: ...or You Can Use Paint!

If you use paint, you'll really want to tape down the stencils to keep them from wiggling. Fill in the letters with your paint. It doesn't matter if you get paint all over your stencil; it can take it!

Let the paint dry completely before you remove the stencils. You can fill in the gaps with more paint if you like.

Now you can express yourself with stencils, making the letters you need to say whatever is important to you. Get out there and make your voice heard.