Do you really need yet another homemade paint recipe for kids in your life…the answer is yes! I wasn’t sold on chalk paint at first, drawing with chalk is already a favorite, what could painting with it add? I decided to try it out anyway and can tell you I’m absolutely thrilled with this new art material! Here’s why you should add chalk paint to your repertoire:
- It is much thicker and more vibrant than drawing with chalk.
- It can be painted on any surface you typically draw on with chalk.
- It wipes/washes clean easily, just like chalk.
- It’s easy make it yourself quickly, especially if you have chalk powder on hand.
There are a number of recipes for sidewalk chalk paint online, typically they use a cornstarch and food coloring mixture OR require you to grate/smash pieces of chalk to make chalk powder. Both of these methods work. The cornstarch recipe, though, is goopy and needs to be continually mixed to keep the cornstarch and water from separating. And grating pieces of chalk is just not something I have time for….so when I was at the hardware store and saw chalk powder for construction chalk lines I knew I had hit pay dirt for an easy chalk paint recipe.
You can pick up a plastic bottle of chalk powder at the hardware store or Amazon for a couple dollars; I bought Irwin Powder Chalk for $2.50 a bottle. The only limitation is the color selection, our local store carried only blue, fluorescent orange, white, and terra cotta red. In construction the colors are used for different applications and degrees of permanence. Online I saw you can also pick up white, black, yellow, and green. I haven’t tried purchasing white and tinting it but who knows, maybe that will work too…..
Hardware Store Chalk Paint
Note: this tutorial is for art paint, not furniture chalk paint.
- Step One Pour some chalk powder into a jar.
- Step Two Add water to the jar; I used a 3:1 ratio of chalk to water.
- Step Three Put a lid on the jar and shake it around until mixed or stir the chalk and water together until the chalk is fully dissolved. Add more water if necessary to make the consistency you want.
You’re done! Told you it was easy….now go outside and paint! My daughter started painting the tiles on our back patio and then quickly moved to her hands and feet…looks like I need to investigate homemade face paint a little more…anyhoo I could see chalk paint being used for sidewalk art or hopscotch or writing big messages on the ground….
We also tried it out on our chalkboard wall inside the house. Yes, I held my breath a little on that one since we were inside and the temptation to splatter chalk paint is high…. Luckily all went well.
This is one instance where you don’t need to be alarmed at seeing paint all over your floor, when you are done, the chalk paint wipes clean with a damp cloth.
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I’ve been obsessing over all things mobile ever since receiving a hand made frog mobile as a baby shower gift. As a designer I was already predisposed to liking them, after all aren’t Alexander Calder’s mobiles every design snob’s dream art piece? Of course I’d need a proper place to hang one as well, but I digress….
I can’t say that this mobile is even remotely close to a Calder but it’s a great way to combine science and design for kids in one sweet little project: a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile. I toyed with a number of ideas for how to build this bird feeder before reminding myself that there is no perfect solution to any project, so go down one path and enjoy the exploration. This homemade bird feeder is perfect if you are looking for a kid’s craft focused on nature and recycling with a little physics thrown in for good measure!
Side note: FYI I suggest using a stick that has three branches minimum so that a bird can actually land on it and get to the birdseed. My first version was truly a balancing mobile and I saw a poor blue jay dive bombing it to knock the seed off since he couldn’t land on it!
Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile
- Small branch or sturdy twig
- Cardboard tubes, cut into strips
- Light Corn Syrup
- Bird Seed
- Wax Paper
- Hole Punch
- Step One Punch a hole in the top and bottom of each of your cardboard tube strips.
- Step Two Pour the corn syrup, Cheerios, and birdseed into three separate bowls.
- Step Three Using a paint brush, paint the outside of a cardboard tube with corn syrup, the more the better! Alternatively you can roll the tube in the corn syrup to coat the outer surface, this is a quicker way to do it.
- Step Four Dip your sticky tube into the birdseed. If you use a Tupperware container you can put the lid on it and shake the birdseed and tube around to cover the tube. Once covered, place the tube on the wax paper to dry.
- Step Five Repeat corn syrup and birdseed steps with more tubes.
- Step Six Cut a length of string and thread a Cheerio on it. Pull string through the bottom hole of one birdseed covered tube. Thread on 5-10 Cheerios then thread the string through the upper hole. You can add more tubes onto this string or move on to another string. Repeat this until you have about 6 strings completed.
- Step Seven Now it’s time to start putting the mobile together! Cut three long strings. Tie one string around one branch and repeat with the other two strings/branches. Gather the three strings together and knot at the top. Tie a loop with the excess string. If you don’t use a loop at the top your mobile will overturn if any weight is put on it. Hang it up in an easy to reach spot.
- Step Eight Tie your birdseed covered tube strings to the branches. Make sure they are secured tightly.Try not to dangle them too far from the branch or it will be hard for the birds to get to the seed.
- Step Nine Trim all your excess string and hang the mobile in it’s final position.
Now enjoy watching the birds flutter around it and attempt to eat birdseed off a swinging mobile….if they can’t do it, they will knock the birdseed off the tubes and eat it from the ground. Hey, sometimes design is pretty not practical!
Apparently the birds in my neighborhood are talented enough to pull off the balancing feat, see my action shots below. I’m not sure if this is a physics lesson for kids or for the birds….