As the painted paper that I had put down on my children's train table was looking a little worse for wear, I sent my husband off to his favourite shop, Bunnings, for a can of chalkboard paint. He returned a few hours later (why does a man need to spend so long in a hardware store?) with something even better - a thin piece of chipboard that was pre-painted and could be cut to size. With no messy paint to deal with, we just slotted it in to the table top so it can easily be removed if needed.
Having a chalkboard as a horizontal surface gives lots of scope scope for games and activities. When the kids are playing with cars or trains, we can draw roads, tracks, houses, lakes and trees wherever we want them, and when we get the animals out we can draw fences and farm buildings. With kids older than mine it would be fun to draw a chess board and use lego figures or something similar for the pieces. Much more fun than having a blackboard easel!