Chalk is one of those basic art materials that all children should be using along with things like playdough, crayons, markers and clay. There are endless possibilities with chalk activities, from drawing to game playing, to decorating any number of outdoor surfaces. This crazy mama also loves to make chalk. And I’ve spent well over a month developing this project. It started out as something completely different and morphed into this: Chalk Rocks!
Let me start with a disclaimer only because I can already hear some people ask this basic question: “Why would you destroy good chalk to make chalk chunks?” Well, I initially dreamed up this activity as a way to make use of all those bits and pieces of broken chalk you have lying around and I stand by that reason for making chalk rocks; it’s a great way to upcycle old chalk. But after much trial and error with this project, I ran out of chalk bits and had to buy chalk just to break it. Ah the perils of crafting…anyhoo, if you don’t have loads of chalk bits lying around you can use new chalk, I think making “rocks” is a fun and worthwhile activity in and of itself.
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Art for Kids: Chalk Rocks
- Plaster of Paris
- Chalk bits and pieces (if you are buying new chalk for this project I highly recommend this chalk– the colors are incredible and it’s SO CHEAP!)
- Fine colorful glitter like this (optional)
- Aluminum foil
- Large bin for mixing
- Large spoon you are dedicating to the art gods (i.e don’t reuse it for cooking pleez)
This is a two-part project. The first step involves making a few large chalk rocks and the second part involves breaking them into smaller chunks. Including drying time this project will take about 4 days to 1 week.
Make Large Chalk Rocks
NOTE: Adults ONLY should handle the mixing part of this project. Plaster of Paris heats up as it cures and can burn the skin.
- Step One Rip off a large piece of aluminum foil and crumple it LIGHTLY into a ball. Now unfurl it keeping the crinkles intact.
- Step Two Form the crinkled foil into a bowl shape. Be sure to make the bottom leak proof by pinching any holes together. My kids did this part of the project and then I “leak proofed” their work. For added leak protection fit the final “bowl” shaped piece of foil in a Tupperware container.
- Step Three If you are using old chalk bits make sure to break them into pieces roughly marble to bouncy ball size. It’s okay to have chalk dust in the mix but you definitely want to have some large color chunks. If you are making your own chalk chunks place them on a large cookie sheet or in a bin and smash them into chunks using a rock or hammer. My kids each wanted a turn smashing of course!
- Step Four Have your chalk rock ingredients ready. Plaster of Paris sets up VERY quickly so have all your materials in place. You will be mixing according to the following ratio: 1 part Plaster of Paris, 1 Part Chalk Chunks, 1 Part Water, a healthy dose of glitter
- Step Five Place the dry ingredients into a large bucket or bin and mix well.
- Step Six Add water. Mix quickly. If you find the mixture is too hard to mix add a little bit more water. Don’t add too much though or the final product will be too soft and crumbly.
- Step Seven Quickly spoon the mixture into the foil “molds.” Let dry. We let ours dry for about 5 days. They will be dry to the touch within hours but given the size of these rocks you will want to let them fully dry out before cracking them open. You will know they are dry when they feel lighter because the water will have evaporated.
Break Those Rocks!
Now for the fun part, let’s break those rocks into smaller pieces and see some color! Place the large rocks on a cookie sheet (or the ground like we did!). With adult supervision allow your kids to break them into chunks using a hammer. The ultimate goal is to break these into chunks you can easily hold in the palm of your hand.
You’re done! Use these chalk rocks like you would any other sidewalk chalk. The fun part is seeing the different colors appear when you draw with them.
Duane Hanson. How am I drawing a parallel between chalk rocks and pop/hyperrealist artist Duane Hanson? Well, the idea of making something to simulate a real object, as we did with chalk rocks, immediately conjured up images of the Supermarket Shopper by Duane Hanson. It’s an art piece I remember vividly seeing in books as a child. Duane Hanson created life size and incredibly realistic sculptures of people and his work is full of social commentary. While some of his pieces are not suitable for young ones (during the 60s he created works that tackled subjects like drugs and homelessness) his Tourist Series is a great one for kids as well as the Guard Series, where he created museum guards and placed them in museums; they look so real! If you aren’t familiar with his work definitely have a look.
Making homemade chalk is fun activity for kids. It’s not necessarily a budget buster as chalk is so darn inexpensive but it is a project that will teach kids about how to make a product and then allow them to use the product afterwards. And sometimes I have to admit I like making a project just for kicks. This is definitely one of those random, weird, and fun things to try!
- If you enjoyed this project check out this post with a tutorial on making DIY chalk and this one with easy to make chalk paint using hardware store chalk powder.
- I also love these giant Chalk Beads by Willow Day and these Chalk Blocks by The Lovely Bits
- If you love chalkboards much as me try this paint! We used it here on our DIY Chalkboard Wall.
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