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Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

Third Grade History Activities: Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

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How-To's for Third Graders

It's no secret that kids love to do art. Now they can learn a new kind painting (well it's actually not very NEW at all!) In prehistoric times, the cavemen used pictographs (symbols that stand for words) to communicate and express beliefs. Ancient pictographs are found in caves and on overhangs of rock around the world. These symbol paintings were the basis of hieroglyphics and other written symbol languages and they're easy for young cave dwellers (or even house dwellers) to do!

This activity encourages the prehistoric urge to mark our surroundings with images and ideas. It also teaches kids how to make their own chalk, which rinses off sidewalks easily!

What You Need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • About 1 1/2 - 2 cups Plaster of Paris (dry)
  • Powdered or liquid tempera paints
  • Disposable plastic containers ( yogurt, margarine or cottage cheese containers)
  • Large plastic spoon or chopstick for stirring
  • Molds for the chalk (use small paper cups, egg cartons, small yogurt containers, duct tape or toilet paper rolls)

What You Do:

  1. Chalk it up to a good time. To make chalk you'll need to prepare molds for the chalk to form in. Do this ahead of time. If you are using toilet paper rolls, be sure to wrap duct tape around the rolls and cover one end of the tube. It's important that the mold be waterproof. Line the tube with wax paper to keep the chalk from sticking. If you're using cardboard egg cartons, be sure to line them too.
  2. Pour warm water into the disposable plastic container. Stir in small amounts of Plaster of Paris until the water doesn't absorb any more powder. The mixture should be the consistency of frosting (stiff but still easily stirred).
  3. Quickly, before the Plaster of Paris sets, add a few teaspoons of tempera paint. For pastel colors, mix colors with white tempera. Stir thoroughly for solid-colored chalk or leave swirled for a marbled look. Make sure to do one color at a time.
  4. Pour the color mixture into the molds and then let them dry completely. This can take anywhere from half an hour to a day. It can take even longer depending on humidity and the amount of water in the mixture.
  5. Remove the chalk from the molds and they are ready to use.
  6. Now let your child express himself using pictures instead of words. Ask him what his favorite memory is or what his biggest dream is. Have him draw an image that represents his ideas. Before you know it your sidewalk or driveway will be filled with stories. Just be careful . . . once you have a caveman living in your house, all kinds of adventures can happen!
Updated on May 28, 2013
Printable Workbooks from Education.com
Find a printable workbook to go along with this fun activity. See Workbooks
See more activities in: Third Grade, History
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