The season for sunshine and outdoor play is finally upon us! School is nearly done, which means every parent could use new ideas on how to fill all those unscheduled hours. Sidewalk chalk is a great way to encourage imagination and physical activity (hopscotch, tic-tac-toe, toy car racetracks, hangman, bean bag toss, checkers, creative chalk photo props, etc). This year, put a spin on this classic summer pastime and mix up a batch of your own colorful DIY sidewalk chalk “pops.”
Materials: Plaster of Paris, tempera paint (neon works best), silicone pop mold, wood craft sticks, plastic cups and plastic spoons. You’ll also need cold water, scissors and measuring cups (not pictured).
A few important notes before we begin:
1. Do not put Plaster of Paris down your drain! It will harden in your pipes and cause damage. We are using disposable cups and spoons for this reason. You can rinse very small amounts off your measuring cups and such, but get the majority of the excess (wet or dry) in the trashcan.
2. This can be messy. I would recommend doing it outside and using larger plastic cups than I did!
3. Cold water means between 40-50º F. Yes, it matters. Chill enough water in your fridge for 30 minutes prior to starting.
3. Tempera paint is egg-based and non-toxic, but Plaster of Paris should not be ingested. Older children may help with the mixing, but little ones probably shouldn’t.
4. The following measurements were enough for my specific Wilton Brownie Pop Mold. You may have to adjust your volumes for different silicone molds.
Begin by cutting down your craft sticks to about 3″ long.
You will need one plastic cup for each color you wish to make. Since my mold has eight spaces, I decided to mix eight different colors.
Fill each plastic cup with 1/3 cup cold water.
Add 2 Tablespoons of tempera paint to each plastic cup. I measured the first one then just eyeballed the rest. Since my paint set only had six colors, I created the purple (pink+blue) and aqua (green+blue) myself.
Use your plastic spoons to gently stir the water and paint together. Don’t worry if it remains a little chunky or separated—it will smooth out in the next step.
Add 2/3 cup Plaster of Paris to each plastic cup. This is where it got messy and I learned my cups were a little too small.
Stir until thoroughly combined. Ideally, your mixture will have the consistency of thin yogurt.
Carefully pour your colors into the silicone mold. Gently tap the mold on your work surface to release any air bubbles.
After two minutes, the plaster will begin to firm up. Insert your craft sticks (cut side down) into the middle of the chalk “pops.” They should be easy to place without having to push hard or hold them up.
Setting these out in the hot sun is a great way to cure them quickly. After an hour, you will be able to carefully remove them from the mold. Leave them in the sun to continue drying.
Most sources recommend waiting 24 hours for the plaster to fully cure. This will ensure a nice solid chalking experience. But I’m not most sources. Are you kidding me? My kids saw these chalk “pops” baking in the sun all afternoon, and it was all I could do to keep their hands off of them. I finally relented after 4 hours of dry time. At that point the chalk was still a little “damp” but firm, and it didn’t crumble one bit.
The wood sticks made it easy for little hands to hold the “pops” without scraping their knuckles on the sidewalk and the colors are more vibrant than any store bought chalk we’ve ever owned.
These DIY sidewalk chalk “pops” are a fun activity guaranteed to fill up at least a few hours of that endless summer daylight. They would be excellent party favors or gifts for summer birthday kids, too. And while they look good enough to eat, please no licking!