This do it yourself project outlines the process for making your own sidewalk chalk. Buying ready made chalk is easier, but making it offers up lots of learning opportunities.
The basic process is to make your molds, mix up some glop, fill the molds with glop, and wait patiently for the glop to dry. Let’s add some detail to that basic outline:
You’ll need to create a mold for you chalk. We’ll look at two options–what we’ll call Chalk Stick Molds and Chalk Hunk Molds.
Chalk Stick Molds
Start by cutting your cardboard tubes into 4 inch long lengths (if you’re using toilet paper tubes, you’re good to go–no cutting is necessary). Next, use masking tape to close off one end of the tube. Now, cut a sheet of wax paper about 5 inches square and form it into a cylinder that’ll slide easily (and fit snugly)inside the cardboard tube. Take your time with this step–smooth waxed paper leads to smooth sticks of chalk. After sizing, use masking tape to secure it. You’ll need to create one of these molds for each stick of chalk you create.
Then slip the wax paper cylinder into the tube.
Chalk Hunk Molds
This option is a bit less labor intensive–just use small-ish plastic containers as molds for your hunks of chalk. In our test drive, we used condiment cups we had in the storage room.
Now, it’s time to mix up the glop that’ll become your sidewalk chalk. This recipe makes enough glop for two sticks of chalk if you fill them about 3/4 full. Combine 2-3 tablespoons of paint with half a cup of water, and mix thoroughly. Next, add 3/4 cup of Plaster Of Paris and mix well. You’ll end up with a colorful and sticky glop.
The next step is to get that glop into those molds. Pour away! We found that mixing the glop in recycled containers (cottage cheese, butter, yogurt) worked well because you can squeeze the sides and make pouring easier.
Gently drumming your fingers on the side of the tube/container will help the glop settle and eliminate air bubbles and voids.
It takes some time for the glop to dry–up to three days in our experience.
If you’re making chalk sticks, let them set up for 12 hours and then gently remove the cardboard tube (leaving the waxed paper). We found this was easier than removing it after it was completely dry.
Is It Dry Yet?
Here’s an easy way to tell if your chalk is dry.
Hold the chalk lightly against your cheek. If it is cool, it is not finished drying. If it feels like it is the same temperature as the room, it has dried completely and is ready for use.
When you chalk is completely dry, gently remove the container or waxed paper. A sharp knife comes in handy for removing stubborn bits of waxed paper.
Is it easier to buy sidewalk chalk? Sure it is. But like so much in the early learning world, the value is often found in the process. Going through the above steps to create your own sidewalk chalk is a process that’s full of opportunities for STEM learning and more. Things like following directions, cause and effect relationships, self-regulation, and more. You’ll find more reasons to do DIY projects like this with kids here.
As always, we’d love to see your thoughts and images in the comments if you give it a try.
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