ByRobin DeRosa Lundgren
Now that spring has sprung and your family isspending more time outside, it’s time to break out the sidewalk chalk!
Kids of all ages love playing with sidewalk chalk,drawing pictures or playing classic games like hopscotch, tic-tac-toe andhangman. Best of all, sidewalk chalk provides a wonderful opportunity forcreative play. Children can draw roads to ride their bikes on, complete withstop signs, traffic lights and crosswalks. Add a house and driveway, and kidscan begin an outdoor game of “house.”
Parentscan assist children in this kind of creative play by encouraging them to drawand create games about things that interest them. If your child likes animals,suggest he draw a farm, creating sections or “pens” for different animals. Asflowers start to bloom, encourage your child to craft her own flower gardenright in the middle of your driveway. Kids will enjoy making up their own gamesor creating obstacle courses that they can hop, jump and run through as fast asthey can. The possibilities are endless, limited only by imagination.
For a littleextra fun, help your kids make homemade sidewalk chalk. This is a very messyactivity – part of what makes it so much fun – so wear old clothes and workoutside if you can!
What you need
-Several sturdy disposable plastic containers, onefor each color you would like to make
-disposable stirrer for mixing
– measuring cup
– measuring spoons
-2 cups water per color
-2 cups Plaster of Paris per color
-2 tbsp Tempera Paint (Wet or Dry)
-containers to mold chalk, such as paper cups, egg cartons, or toilet papertubes reinforced with duct tape
What to do
(As you do this activity, please be awarethat Plaster of Paris dries fairly rapidly. Be sure to have everything ready togo before starting the activity.)
1. Have your child measure 2cups of Plaster of Paris and pour it into the disposable container.
2. Help your child measure 2cups of water and add it to the bowl of Plaster of Paris.
3. Ask your child to mix theplaster and water together well, using the stirrer. The plaster should be stiffbut creamy.
4. Instruct your child tochoose the Tempera paint color they want to use. Have him add 2 Tablespoons ofthe paint to the plaster and water and mix well. Explain to your child that heshould stir well for a solid color. To achieve a marbled look, tell your childto just stir the paint in slightly. If your child would like to make completelymarbled chalk, have your child add two or more colors to different sides of thecontainer and stir each side slightly.
5. Help your child pour hersidewalk chalk mixture into paper cups or egg cartons. Note: If you use toiletpaper tubes, they need to be reinforced with duct tape and one end needs to becovered over with duct tape.
6. Assist your child in throwing out any leftover chalk mixture. WARNING: Do not rinse Plaster of Paris downthe sink!
7. Let the sidewalk chalk drycompletely, for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Plaster of Paris hardens in about half anhour, but won’t be completely dry for about a day. However the chalk can beremoved from the containers and used after about 30 minutes.
8. Have your child remove his chalk from themolds and start drawing!
Cognitive skills – themental process of knowing by developing awareness, perception and reasoning.
When working on measuring the ingredients for thechalk recipe, children engage cognitive skills. While using their homemadechalk to draw pictures, kids begin to notice part to whole relationships. Forexample, a truck can be made by connecting a rectangle, square and circles forthe wheels.
Fine motor skills – theuse of small muscle movements in the hands that occur in coordination with theeyes.
Children use these skills when pouring and stirringthe mixture as well as removing it from the molds. Fine motor skills arefurther strengthened when holding the chalk with a proper grasp while drawingand writing.
Gross motor skills – theuse of the large body muscles.
This area of development is targeted when childrencrawl, run, and jump while participating in games and imaginative play.
Language – the expressiveability to communicate ideas and needs, and the receptive ability to understandwhat is said or written.
During this activity, children follow written andverbal directions. Also, without even realizing it, kids naturally usedescriptive vocabulary such as, “I am driving my blue car very fast on thegreen road.”
Social emotionaldevelopment – involves a child’s feelings of self worth and confidence.
Playing with chalk is an activity which facilitatesinteractive play and turn taking skills. Best of all, the creation of homemadechalk is sure to instill a child’s feeling of accomplishment and pride whensharing it with friends of all ages.
This monthly family activity series,”Hands-on-Kids!” is brought to you by a partnership between theChildren’s Science Center (CSC) and FAMILY Magazine. For more activities youcan do with your children to spark their love of learning, visit the CSC web site,www.thechildrenssciencecenter.org. On theirweb site you will also find information about CSC and how you can becomeinvolved. CSC is committed to building a place where our children can freelyexplore and develop a lifelong love of learning.