If your kids are anything like mine, they have much more fun outdoors than on the couch. One of our favorite outdoor activities is playing with sidewalk chalk. And lately, we’ve ventured into making our own.
After trying a few DIY chalk recipes, I settled on the following method. Get started on your own batch by gathering these materials:
- Kitchen knife
- 4 empty stick deodorant applicator containers
- 1 Tbsp. organic coconut oil
- 4 cups of craft plaster powder
- 2 2/3 cups of cold water
- 4 disposable containers
- Various natural fabric or food dyes
To get started, use the kitchen knife to clean out all the crevices in the deodorant containers.
Melt the coconut oil in your hands and use your fingers to coat the inside of your applicator. This will keep the final product from sticking to the sides when retracting it.
In a large disposable bowl, prepare the plaster with water according to the package’s instructions, taking all recommended safety precautions. Separate the goop into your four disposable containers, and add a few drops of varying dye to each mixture. Stir well.
Next, pour the mixture into the empty deodorant applicators. The formula will thicken within minutes and it’ll harden in less than an hour. Let it cure overnight (at least 8 hours). Click here to see a quick video tutorial.
This method of DIY chalk is my favorite because it’s retractable and gives small hands a substantial, mess-free holder for the chalk. When you’re done playing, simply cap the colors and toss them in a basket or drawer for next time.
Now that you made your chalk, it’s time to play! Here are three sidewalk chalk games for the perfect group outdoor activity:
1. Be Still My Art
The artwork you create with your chalk is just the beginning; it’s how you interact with your masterpieces that make for the best pictures (and the most giggles)! For this one, have your child doodle an imaginary place. This could be a baseball park, a prehistoric forest, or an enchanted castle.
Then, have your kids pose inside the scene as characters. Don (or draw!) accessories that may show up on or around a character’s head—think a royal crown, unicorn horn, or fairy wings. Put a thought or speech bubble near her head that says something only she would say…
2. Four Corners with a Twist
For this activity, start with a basic, no-frills game of Four Corners. Once players get the hang of it, discuss and agree upon a random category. Consider things you’d find in a river or foods that start with the letter “G.” The next time a player is eliminated, they have the chance for redemption by naming three items in the specified category. If Suzie is “out,” for example, she may shout out “garbanzo beans, goulash, and grapes!”
3. Sun Salutation
At around 8 a.m. when your child wakes up, go outside together, have him mark an “X” on the driveway, and stand on it. Then, using your DIY chalk, trace his shadow. Talk about what makes a shadow and how the sun moves throughout the day. Have him point to where he believes his shadow will be in three hours, and watch the magic as the day goes on.
At 11 a.m., go outside again, and have him stand on the same “X.” Where’s his shadow now? Talk about why it moved, tracing his shadow again and having him point to where it’ll be in another few hours.
Repeat your tracing activity every couple of hours, and at the end of the day, take a picture of all the silhouettes. Older kids will even be able to discuss how shadows may change with the seasons as well as the hours in a day.
Outdoor playtime is the best, and making your own art supplies for play is half the fun. Plus, you’ll show your kids how to reuse old containers—one of the best lessons a junior conservationist can learn.
Snap a picture of your chalk art and tweet it to @TomsofMaine!
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.
Why It’s Good
There's no need to cringe when considering the amount of waste your family produces. Things like deodorant applicators can be reused, transformed, and given a new life—especially when combined with kids' activities. Not only is this a great way to spend time together, but you also cut down on wasteful trash and show your kids how to do the same. That's something the whole family can feel good about.