Making a Hanging Door Sign

We’ve created an activity guide on creating stoplight-inspired door signs! This project was inspired by The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan written by Joan DiCicco, and illustrated by Ebony Glenn. A tale of heroism and inventiveness, Garrett Morgan invented the Safety Hood that firefighters and wartime heroes adapted for use to this day. And if you rode in the car lately, you will have benefitted from his invention that created our modern-day traffic light. In this activity guide, we are taking inspiration from the traffic light we see in our streets today to create hanging door signs!

His story and legacy live on in our Chill Zone collection. Read on to learn about the heroic innovator whose inventions he so selflessly shared.

STEP 1 - Gather Your Materials

For this maker guide, colors are the most important part. Considering that stoplights have 3 symbolic colors, we looked for collaging and coloring materials in red, yellow, and green.


  • Cardboard Base (we used 8.5 x 13 in.)
  • Extra cardboard to cut circles out of
  • String
  • Brads/Brass Fasteners
  • Coloring utensils (green, yellow and red markers/crayons)
  • Scratch sheets of paper
  • Fabric to collage with


  • Canary cutter
  • Scissors
  • Liquid Glue
  • Screwdriver/awl

What materials will you make with? If you don't have something, what alternatives can you use?

We are taking a break from hot glue this month and using the classic liquid glue! But if you are using materials that require hot glue, it is also welcome.

STEP 2 - Let's talk about stoplights and traffic!

What are stoplights? Stoplights, also known as traffic lights, are devices that live on streets, usually at intersections. Their purpose is to manage traffic. The three colors on a stoplight represent different commands for drivers:




This door sign can be made for many places, including our bedrooms, classrooms, or even an office. Creating a door sign that uses an arrow to point at these colors can show the other people we live or work with when it's okay for them to enter the room. It's like managing room traffic but also a quiet way of asking for privacy! For this sign, we associated each color with a statement:

GREEN - Come in!
Encourages others to enter the room.

YELLOW - Knock!
Welcomes others to come in but reminds them that a knock first is much appreciated.

RED - Busy!
Let's others know that it's not the best time to come in and that they should wait until that sign is changed.

STEP 3 - Making a Stoplight Door Sign

Every new project starts with a rough sketch. How do we want our sign to look? Is it a horizontal sign or a vertical one? Where does the arrow go? We'll go over how to incorporate a moveable arrow in this guide, but where the arrow goes is up to you. Make a sketch. We went with a vertical sign design with the arrow on the left side.

Next, cut your cardboard pieces out.

Cut List:

  • 1 Cardboard Base (Ours is 8.5 x 13 inches)
  • 3 Circles
  • 1 Arrow

STEP 4 - Attach the arrow

So you cut all the pieces, but before you glue anything down, let's make the arrow slider. The slider will be attached using a brad so poke a hole in the middle of your arrow using the awl/screwdriver. On the cardboard sign base, draw a line where you'd attach your arrow. We recommend drawing the lines up to the middle of the first and last color, so the slide won't go past these marks. Cut that line using your awl and canary cutter. Feel free to loosen it a little by running the awl/screwdriver up and down the line, but not too much so your brad and arrow can still sit in place when you need the arrow to point on a certain color.

Slip the arrow and brad into the slit line. Open the back of the brad so it doesn't slip out of the sign.

Glue the circles onto your cardboard sign base and collage materials on top. We used a mixture of drawings/colors on scratch paper, scraps of fabric, and colored paper to collage colors onto the cardboard circles.

Step 5 - Add String

Lastly, add brads to the top corners of your sign. Cut some string that you can loop around the brads. This allows you to hang the sign onto a nail on a door, but you can easily untie the string as well if you need to adjust how high or low your sign hangs.

Optional: Add the statements onto your sign so people know exactly what it means.


We’ve successfully created a stoplight door sign! One of the most important things we must do to make sure this sign is effective is to make others aware of it. Maybe call a meeting with people in your household or office to tell them that this sign is here, and this color means, "Please don't bug me" and this color means, " Come right in!" Also, consider if this sign can be utilized anywhere else or be used for a different purpose. 


 Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources to access our Tiny Techniques videos and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your door sign, share it with friends and family. If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr so that we can see yours!

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